Considering a Contemporary Service? First UMC, Bullard Offers Seven Helpful Tips

Date Posted: 3/14/2019

By: Sherri Gragg
After months of prayer and planning, First UMC, Bullard launched its new contemporary worship service, “encounter,” on January 20, 2019. The Rev. David Brasher shares the lessons his church learned through the process.
1. Know Your “Who, How, and Why.”
The leadership of First UMC, Bullard began the process of establishing a new contemporary
service by slowing down long enough to ask themselves three questions: “Why do we want to
begin a second service?” “Who are we hoping to reach?” and “How will this service help us
achieve our mission?” By taking the time to think through those three questions, the leadership
team was able to move forward with purpose and intention.

2. Invest Time in Careful Planning.
First UMC, Bullard proceeded slowly at first to ensure they laid a solid foundation for the new
service through careful planning. “We
showed an interest in starting a contemporary service and who were the kind of people who
would help us think through what one would look like,” Brasher said.
3. Learn from Those Who Have Gone Before.
When it comes to launching a new service, there is no need to start from scratch. First UMC,
Bullard went through the VCI process just before beginning the new service which allowed them
to learn from Conference leadership dedicated to church renewal. They also sought out print
materials on how to begin a new service and visited contemporary services in their area.

4. Prepare Your Congregation.
It is not unusual for a congregation to feel hesitant to embrace change. First UMC, Bullard
eased the transition to an additional service by remaining committed to great communication
with the congregation every step of the way.
5. Spread the Word!
Explore all options to let your community know a new service is on the way. First UMC, Bullard posted photos and videos regularly on social media and encouraged church members to share them. They also invested in professionally printed 5”x7” invitation cards and distributed them in their community.  
6. Make a List and Check it Twice (of a Thousand Little Details).
Here are a few First UMC, Bullard Checked Off Their List:

  • What are your staffing needs? First UMC, Bullard searched extensively for the right worship leader.
  • Consider the timing of the service and how that will impact attendees of the traditional service. You can’t please everyone but move forward thoughtfully to minimize disruption.
  • Do you have your technological needs covered? Here is some good information about using technology in your church:
7. Keep Your Eyes on the Main Thing.
Thanks to careful planning, faithful prayer, and a lot of work, First UMC, Bullard’s contemporary worship service is off to a great start. When Brasher is asked to offer advice to pastors following in his footsteps, he points back to the first questions his church asked as they were considering whether or not to move forward with the new service. “Don’t forget why you’re doing this in the first place,” he said, “Always remind yourself its about reaching new people for Christ. Design your service for those who aren’t there in your pews already.”

Could your church benefit from VCI? Reach out to VCI Director, the Rev. Mike Tyson for more information (713) 521-9383 ext:313,