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Featured Canceling church services and other stuff

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by SmalltownPastor, Aug 25, 2015.

  1. SmalltownPastor

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    We canceled our Sunday evening church service this past week because so many families weren't going to be able to come. It would have been my family and one senior adult, who sometimes comes and sometimes doesn't. So I called her and let her know we weren't going to have service that night. I also texted anyone who I thought might come, even if they weren't regular Sunday night attenders, just in case.

    I received a text a little after the time evening service usually starts from a family who visited our church a few weeks ago, asking if we were going to have a service. Apparently, they drove to the church in order to visit us again. I responded that I was so sorry, and that we usually do, but that we had canceled service that night.

    I don't like canceling services. I usually have the mindset that we should stick to the schedule, and we can worship no matter who's there. But since we "knew" that it was going to be an extremely small crowd, I made the decision to cancel. Now I regret it. I've been praying for this family since their first visit, and now I feel like we've given them a bad impression of our church.

    I know that God is sovereign, and that I can't mess up His plan, but I really get down on myself about these kinds of mistakes. I feel like I make so many of them that I'm not really fit to be a pastor. I mean, I know that it's a higher calling that any of us are really capable of fulfilling perfectly, but I feel like I let my church down all the time.

    Do you ever cancel church services? Have you ever had a circumstance like this?

    Or, maybe my deeper question is, do you ever feel like your mistakes are keeping your church from being who God wants them to be? How do you deal with that?
     
  2. padredurand

    padredurand Well-Known Member
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    In 23 years we have cancelled one service because of flooding and three due to snow. I've had services where - beside my own family - there was less than five people.

    Unless you are endangering yourself, I would suggest you go prepared to preach to a thousand and minister to those who come regardless of how many. You'll drive yourself bonkers trying to anticipate who may or may not show.
     
  3. annsni

    annsni Administrator
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    A couple of thoughts:

    Yes, we cancel usually at least one service each winter due to snow/ice/dangerous friving conditions.

    Try to get everyone's email and even visitors. We have an email list set up so we can email everyone to let them know a change in service times/vital info/etc. we let visitors know that we won't spam them and if they wish to be removed from the list, we will do so. we send out maybe 4-5 emails to this big list a year.

    I'd say that even with a small group like you were going to have, plan to have it no matter what unless it is insafe to get to church. If it is on the church website, honor that commitment. We are more apt to cancel our small home groups because we don't have people just show up for them. So I would say to next time go as a family and have a prayer time for an hour of no one shows up.

    Oh and I forgot. Guilt is often a pastor's sidekick. There are so many things pastors can beat themselves up over! I wouldn't let it hurt your ministry. Take notes and move on. :)
     
  4. exscentric

    exscentric Active Member
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    Small churches are the pits at times. We had a small one for awhile, started a prayer meeting, no one came, we continued for week after week - my family in attendance.

    After many weeks I announced that we would no longer have the prayer meeting. One of the more outspoken women stood in the middle of announcements and demanded to know why I was canceling the prayer meeting. I politely told her - that no one had ever attended and that the family could find a much easier time to gather to pray for the church.

    Many other woes came across in that little church but God did what He wanted to in spite of me or the people.

    Hang in there and do the best you can, God will do the rest. Christ said He would build His church so we don't have to worry about it, just follow His direction.
     
  5. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant Active Member

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    We have cancelled services because of hurricanes. But there are times when we will cancel a Sunday night as when we have a dinner on the grounds after the AM service or on Mother's Day.

    Ann is spot on about the issue of guilt. You made a decision, if you think it was wrong now, determine to not do it again. But put it out of mind. Another side kick of pastors is continually 2nd guessing ourselves about past decisions. You make the decision, live with it or change the decision. It can often paralyze us into not making decisions at all.
     
  6. sag38

    sag38 Active Member

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    Four or five times a year we don't have evening services on Sunday and Wednesday due to special church events or holidays such as Labor Day or Memorial Day. The staff likes the afternoon off to go and be with their families rather than having to be at the service with the skeleton crew. There are a few who object but I have asked them to justify their objection based on scripture and not tradition. In other words, show me in the Bible where is explicitly states that we must have church every single Sunday night, no matter what. So, far no one has been able to produce.
     
  7. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant Active Member

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    At the first church I pastored, I asked the Deacons if they thot it might be good to cancel services on Super Bowl Sunday night. They said no, so we had the service. Not a one of those deacons were at church that night. :BangHead:
     
  8. sag38

    sag38 Active Member

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    Exactly Tom....They insist that there be a service but let something come up and they won't be there. I think this has to do with the attitude of we are paying a pastor and staff for three services and they better perform them come hell or high water.
     
  9. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql Member

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    Occasionally my church ( www.lighthouseminstries.org ) has had to cancel some of her corporate services due to weather.

    This past February middle TN was hit with a massive snow/ice storm that pretty much crippled POV transportation. Even our pastor couldn't make it on time. While he eventually made it to our campus, I was told that there was only a small handful of folks who braved the hazardous conditions. Even I-24, which is only a mile from the church campus, wasn't entirely ice-free.

    Middle TN doesn't usually have really very bad ice storms whose aftermaths linger on for more than a week, but February-March of this year was an exception.

    Of course, this past winter's ice storm(s) was no match to the May 2010 "!,000-Year Flood" we experienced some five or so years ago.

    These were the only two exceptions that we've had to actually cancel our Sunday AM corporate services in the 22 years I've been with LCF.
     
  10. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman Active Member

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    Most churches that I know who have cancelled do so due to snow, tornados, etc,etc. One church I know, though, the pastor showed up and had rounds of services with whoever showed up.

    Usually if a church cancels a service, it is usually weeks/months ahead of time and the advertise the cancelled services.
     
  11. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman Active Member

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    As far as the mistakes, if you feel you have, acknowledge, apologize, and move on. Don't keep on beating yourself up about it. Other people will beat you up enough.
     
  12. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman Active Member

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    By the way, Cancelling a service is not the great "transgression". Let it go. Let it go. Shake it off. Taylor swift.
     
  13. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    If your concern is mainly how that family sees the canceling of the service I feel ya bro. I would say, however, that if there were any negative perceptions by them over it that can be overcome by calling them and just set up a time to come by and visit with them. That may do more for them than having been at that service. Also, consider that had you had the service as usual there could have been any number of negative things occur to create a bad perception or just end up with a bad evening. God is still in control and it all fits nicely in His intentions for your church and for that family. Pray for them, talk to them, and carry on.
     
  14. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    I concur with some of the other advice. Even if it is just you and your wife at the service -- preach the Word!
     
  15. OnlyaSinner

    OnlyaSinner Member
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    This describes our pastor, though it would be for an activity rather than a scheduled corporate service. I can't recall one of the latter being cancelled in any of the four churches we've attended since 1981. The one probable cancel was before we attended our current church, in the record flood of April 1987 when rising waters marooned the pastor and family (fortunately on an "island" which included a motel) as they were driving home on a Wednesday afternoon. In 2003 we had 24" of snow between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning - only nine made the service, about 100 fewer than average, but pastor and family were the first ones there. We were the 2nd, even though 45 minutes late because the snowfall was way taller than my snowblower.
     
  16. annsni

    annsni Administrator
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    Our senior pastor has said that it's easy for him to get to church since he lives across the street but he doesn't want to be responsible for someone else getting into an accident because they have to be there (staff/volunteers/leaders) if we open the church. So when the roads are dangerous, we shut down the church for the safety of everyone!
     
  17. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql Member

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    This is one reason why I enjoy being a member of a church that offers small group Bible study and prayer meetings.

    While traditional Sunday & Wednesday corporate services are fine, I'd prefer to be connected with smaller, more personally intimate groups of church members where we can be more open with our prayer needs and also get to study God's word in a less formal setting.

    If you want to get an idea how the church of which I've been a member for over 20 years offers this kind of thing, visit my church's website at www.lighthouseministries.org and then click on the Life Groups tab in the lower lefthand corner of the main page.
     
  18. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant Active Member

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    We are keeping watch on Tropical Storm Erika this weekend and might have to cancel something.
     
  19. annsni

    annsni Administrator
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    One thing that I don't get is when a state of emergency or a snow emergency is declared and the local government requests that you stay off the road - and yet churches are open. Is this not a bad idea? I think it is. If we are asked to stay off the road due to dangerous driving conditions, or some other safety issue, why are we still asking people to come to church?
     
  20. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    Well, those churches are the ones that take Hezekiah 25:1-2 which states, "thou shalt NEVER cancel a Sunday Worship Service or a Wed night Prayer meeting.

    But lets keep in mind that the OP had nothing to do with weather.

    Several years ago, our church had an evening service - on two people showed up, the Pastor and myself (asst Pastor). My wife did not come because of work. One family did not come because they lived about 45 minutes away (most of the trip was on I-90)
    Others only had excuses; even the pastors wife.
     
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