We are now about 6 months into doing a 2/3 service at Grandview Church in S/C IN District. Our 2/3 service is our solution to several problem areas we see across the country in most small churches: inability to come together to name one missional focus, power-struggles over worship style, and having a worship place to invite new people into joining.

Thus, we’ve gone from blended to what we are calling a 2/3 service. One service is split into three parts and incorporates two distinct worship styles. The first part is strictly traditional worship (hymns, responsive reading, offering, etc.). The second part is for church family events (like baptism, baby dedication, VBS presentation) and sermon. The final third is strictly contemporary worship (IWorship, worship team, flags, children with ribbons and instruments, etc.).

If you want to attend a traditional worship service, you only stay for the first two-thirds. If you want to attend a contemporary worship service, you come for the last two-thirds. Yet, everyone in the church is together for the same sermon at the same time.

The traditional people feel like they have a stable service they can count on and like. The contemporary attendees are much more free than they were in the blended service; they don’t feel now like if they act like they enjoy the praise and worship they are offending someone else in the congregation who does not.

Our children are released from childcare for the third-third to worship with parents. On about week 3 or 4, parents suddenly realized they could relax – it didn’t matter if the baby toddled across the row – no one noticed in the more casual atmosphere. Children didn’t have to sit stone still – they could grab a sand shaker or ribbon and actively worship. It was great to watch this realization come over the parents. We are considering renaming this section “family worship” as we don’t feel “contemporary” is a good tag anyway.

What do we do for transition you are probably wondering (that’s always the first question). We have brought back the Brethren greeting time. As people enter who are coming at the start of the second third (because they want a contemporary worship experience), we break with a countdown video. Everyone greets one another and then settles back in together. At the end of the second third (after the sermon) we have a prayer ministry time in which those who are leaving can exit and children come in – we start in with an IWorship song to give the praise team time to gather and get things going again. We’ve just started trying a countdown video during this second transition as well.

The number one thing we hope to accomplish with this style is to be able to set aside the traditional versus contemporary underlying tensions long enough to come together over ministry focus. Some leadership have misunderstood and thought the two-thirds service was going to cause dramatic church growth alone (which it has not – though a number of people who left the congregation because of the blended worship have returned to attend the traditional service, and we have some families more engaged now that we have the contemporary worship). We are now concentrating on getting leadership to identify and go with one God-given ministry focus. We are also launching ministry teams this summer with a full launch this fall (but that’s another post).

We are happy to answer questions about how we make the transitions work, what impact it has had on the children’s department (our greatest care was placed here going in), how we resource it with both people and ministry resources, etc.

Pastors Lisa G. Yoder & Gary D. Yoder
Grandview Church of the Brethren
S/C Indiana District