First Baptist Church of New Albany will soon have multiple morning worship services beginning on October 6. First Baptist has experienced growth in worship attendance as well as Sunday School for the past year and after prayerful consideration, the church membership decided the best way to move forward would be with two worship services on Sunday mornings.
The first service will be at 8:15 a.m. with Sunday School to follow at 9:30. The later morning service will start at 10:45 a.m. This offers all those coming to either worship service the opportunity to attend Sunday School fellowship and be a part of group Bible study.
"This is not a problem, it is an opportunity," said First Baptist pastor Andrew Chesteen. "The best way for us to move forward at the present is to offer two services. We must have a place to seat people and also have an opportunity to bring them in.
"We cannot continue to run in excess of 80 percent and expect people to keep coming," Chesteen said. "We believe people are attracted to our church because we are preaching the gospel faithfully and providing a meaningful worship experience."
Mark Mathis, Pastor of Worship and Media at First Baptist says that both of the worship services will have the First Baptist choir to lead in the music service and that the music will be exactly the same for both as well.
There will be no changes to Sunday School other than the slight time change to 9:30 and no programs for the youth will be affected according to Chris Moore, Pastor of Youth, College and Families.
"The First Baptist deacons were unanimous in moving forward with two services," said deacon chairman Shane Scott.
Scott offered three important reasons for the multiple services: more people can hear the Gospel, more people can be loved, more people are concerned.
"We must step out in faith and try to reach more people," said First Baptist deacon vice-chairman Ed Grisham. "This is an opportunity and we need to take advantage. Nothing is being taken away from what we have and we need to prayerfully roll up our sleeves and work."
This move to two morning worship services has not been last minute decision, the deacons have been praying about going to two services as far back as January 2018.
First Baptist has experimented with multiple services on Easter Sunday since 2017 and saw great results in worship attendance for both services. Instead of having an early morning Sunrise Service which had been the practice for many years, First Baptist decided to have two services in order to accommodate the huge attendance they were experiencing.
The ministerial staff also met with other churches which were similar in size to get input on the positives they experienced as well as any possible drawbacks. Also, the staff sought direction and advice from the Mississippi Baptist Convention on how to proceed with planning and preparation.
"Lots of research and study has been done by the staff to decide what two services entails," said Chesteen. "We will have no constraint on time for our preaching plus we will have time to visit with visitors and fellow church members following the services.
"We will also still be having our 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening service, there will be no change at all there. Our number one priority is to love the Lord, love New Albany and to do that we must have open doors and open seats."