7 Tips for Asking People to Change to a Different Service Time


Come to the Early Service [Episode 1 // Above] [Episode 2 // Bieber]

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You may be aware that your church has an “optimal inviting hour” … that time on the weekend that first time guests are most likely to attend your church. (For a lot churches it’s somewhere around 11am on a Sunday.) I’ve found over the years that growing churches are regularly trying to move “long time attenders” out of that service to make room for new guests. We’ve done this on an annual rhythm at our church over the last few years. Here are all the ways we ask people to make this change …

  • EarlyServiceClear Core Message // We’re faced with a bit of a communications hassle in that our campuses have different service times. We wanted a unified campaign among all the locations so we ended up with the language “Come to the Early Service!” Basically we wanted people to have the “take away” be that we wanted them to come to an earlier service … regardless of what that time was. At each campus we customized the hosting delivery to state the time … but the campaign was branded under the same name. The sub-messaging for us on “why” people should come to the early service were:
    • Make Room For New Friends! // We’re mainly appealing to people’s altruistic sense with this sub-message. Our hope was to reinforce that coming to the early service is a way to serve guest who aren’t here yet.
    • It’s spring … get up early and get out! // We didn’t really stress this in the verbals or in the video projects we did … but we did roll this campaign out during the lead up to spring so the secondary messaging focused on the fact that people could get up and out earlier. (I know … feeding people’s sense of just wanting to “get it over with … check the box” … not great … but some people think that way.)
  • Direct Mail // We sent a 6×9 direct mail post card to every family in our database. This piece was straight forward, clean and had a direct ask. Please come to the early service. Our hope in landing this at home is that it’s a reminder while people aren’t with us to think through a different Sunday schedule.
  • Spring Catalog // We dedicated a full page spread in a spring mailing to 5,000+ homes to this campaign. [Click here to read more about our spring catalog and what we’re attempting with this piece.] Our hope is that as people as people are looking through all the things going on in our church this spring they will be reminded to try an early service.
  • Email Calls Out // We send out a email every week to our database highlighting what is coming up our church … we’ve been communicating this messaging through that channel. This is an important reinforcement because it lands on Friday … getting people to think through their weekend and how they can help us make room for new guests.
  • Stickers on Volunteer Teams // For two weekends at our campuses we had all of our volunteers wear large-ish stickers that reinforced the message. Our hope was to surround people even when they were with us for a few weeks with the messaging! [Click here to see my goofy grin with one of the stickers on!]
  • Two Funny Videos // As a part of our “video announcements” package that we show at every campus we made two 30 second spots that we’re designed to make people smile and to deliver the message that we need them to come early. You can see links to these videos at the top of this post. These went over great! I love hearing people laughing in church. Good for the soul.
  • Pastor Call Out from Stage // Finally … at the end of a series our Lead Pastor made a quick call out about the next series and the fact that we need people to move to the early service. [Watch the last 2 minutes of this video to see it in action.] My sense is that so many people start with this one … they think if they just get the person who talks on Sundays to plug their need it will translate. That’s just not necessarily true. Of course, whatever the Pastor says does carry a lot of weight in a church but I think we can over depend on that. I’m happy that he didn’t need to land it on heavy … all he needed to do was give his perspective on the next series. He gave people an insight into the direction of the series and asked people to move  to the early service times. Because we’ve done everything else in this campaign he was able to focus on the pastoral part of what he wanted to teach on … not on the nuts and bolts of the service time change.

What have you done to ask people to switch to a different service? I’d love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment.

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  1. Very timely and helpful tips. We’re in the process of phasing out our Saturday night service and adding two evening times on Sunday to accommodate growth at one of our campuses. We have to isolate our communication to attenders of that one campus, but many of these ideas are still applicable. I like that you promote being direct and clear with the messaging by simply telling people what you want them to do.

    1. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

      I sometimes think we make the messaging too obscure… Don’t make people guess what you want them to do!

      Have a great week. I’d love you to drop back and tell us how it goes!


  2. Rich, we’re facing this issue right now at our church! Are you aware of any studies/surveys that have been done to validate the “optimal inviting hour” for visitors?

  3. Great information! We have three service times on Sunday morning and our middle service is packed while we have room for growth in the other two services. I’m interested in seeing your videos, but I’m having problems opening them up. I get a message that they are “private”.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.