We know change is never easy, and Ekklesia in particular has seen its fair share of it. As such, we want to make sure you all know the reasons why the leadership decided to change the Worship Gatherings to Thursday night.
1. We see an incredible opportunity to have an impact!
a. There are no College and Young Adult gatherings on Thursday Nights
Currently there are no worship gatherings in downtown Bellingham happening on Thursday nights for the age group Ekklesia has a passion to reach. We believe that we have the opportunity to fill the gap and make it possible for any college student or young adult to hear about Jesus any night of the week.
b. The Ekklesia community needs to be on mission on Friday nights.
In addition, we believe Jesus followers are called to live lives which radiate light in dark places. Right now the Friday night gathering is robbing our people of that opportunity. As many of you know, Friday night is the biggest party night in Bellingham, and the leadership wants to give the community the opportunity to go into those place and show people a more excellent way of living.
We are still committed to being a stark contrast to the party culture in Bellingham. Though Thursday nights, or “Thirsty Thursdays,” are not as big of a party night, they are most definitely a big bar hopping night. A Thursday night gathering will continue to be an alternative to bar culture, but on a night not yet being addressed by the young adults ministries in Bellingham. By living on mission on Friday nights and having our gathering on Thursday nights, we believe we can have a more thorough impact on our city.
c. We believe, for someone who doesn’t know Jesus, a Friday night gathering hinders them from coming to Ekklesia.
While strategically gathering on Friday nights has been incredibly formative for many in the community, we believe people who don’t know Jesus would be more open to an invitation to come on a Thursday night. The Ekklesia leadership has heard many people in the community express frustration because people they invite are not coming. We think this is due, in part, to the high cost of asking someone who doesn’t know Jesus to “give up” their Friday to come to church. That we believe, in many of their minds, is a hurdle many people can’t get over. A move to Thursday night allows the gathering to meet people where they are at.
In addition, many of the young adults in our community have communicated that, due to their rhythm of life, a Friday night gathering is difficult to attend. We want to be sensitive to all the people in our community and we hope Thursday nights will provide a greater opportunity to participate.
2. A move to Thursday nights will address two parts of the Ekklesia culture we believe need to be reshaped.
a. Spring Attendance Dips
One of the most incredible things about Ekklesia is the sense of belonging to a community. A huge way that culture is generated is worshiping together. In the two years since we have moved our gathering to Friday nights we have seen a 30 percent dip in attendance each spring. This is a steep contrast to when Ekklesia met on Wednesday nights and there was only a ten percent dip in attendance. We believe this is because many people desire to enjoy the incredible playground of God’s creation and leave Friday afternoons to take advantage of the weekend. Moving to Thursday nights helps continue to cultivate a community of worship and gives our people the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors during the narrow window we have in this incredible state.
b. Bridging the 7pm and 9pm Cultural Divides
It is no secret that there is a stark difference in attendance between the 7pm and 9pm Gatherings. Despite various attempts, we have not been successful in addressing this issue. Moving to a midweek gathering will aid in leveling the attendance between the two gatherings, which will in turn promote the transformative experience we love about Ekklesia. In addition, we believe this will open up space in the 9pm gathering so more people have the chance to experience it.
3. A Friday night gathering no longer aligns with our Philosophy of Ministry.
When Ekklesia originally moved to Friday nights, what it “was” was still being defined. The leadership at the time were playing with the idea that Ekklesia was going to be its own church, and making a move to Friday nights was inline with that vision. In the last few years the Lord revealed this was not the direction Ekklesia was supposed to go. It became apparent that Ekklesia is a focused ministry of Christ the King Community Church which seeks to reach out to 18-28 year olds. Because of this philosophical shift we now see that a Friday night gathering is too close to the CTK Saturday night and Sunday morning services. This creates a redundancy which detracts from people’s participation in the broader church community. We understand that many people consider Ekklesia to be their church home and we are ecstatic about that. However, for those who want to participate in the broader life of the Church we want to insure our rhythm does not hinder them.
4. Ekklesia has changed and our gathering needs to adapt.
a. We have financial considerations to take into account with Norway Hall.
We bought a building and are extremely excited about it. With this, however, we need to make some decisions to help make this a cost effective move for Christ the King. Currently, the Ekklesia tithes and offerings only cover a fraction of the cost of Norway Hall. We are exploring many different options to make up the gap and one of those options is renting Norway Hall for events. While all potential rentals will be secondary to Ekklesia’s use of the building, we believe Friday nights are more desired for events and want to ensure that night is available to help balance the cost of our incredible space. Moving to Thursday nights, will allow more people to use the building, which will simultaneously generate revenue to support the cost of Norway Hall and allow us to meet the needs of the community of Bellingham.
b. Ekklesia wants to use the weekends to help make relational connections (e.g. retreats, BBQ’s etc)
Ekklesia people have some incredible ideas for how to progress the mission and spiritual life of community. Without the use of Friday nights, we have not been able to entertain many of these ideas. (a few examples: Retreats, Conferences and Concert series). Right now, Friday nights tie our hands from being able to realize some of the incredible ideas the Lord is giving the community. Moving to Thursday nights will provide freedom to dream about things we can do to help train, develop and create prolonged spaces for the Lord to encounter the Ekklesia community.
We have told a few people about this move and here are some of the very legitimate concerns we have heard. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you any questions at all feel free to contact any of the Ekklesia Staff.
"Friday is test day at school… I need to study."
We want to you to succeed in school. We really do. If you have a test on Friday that you are studying for on Thursday we think that taking a break from studying will not only help you retain information (studies back this up… See here, and here) but will allow you to take any anxiety that you may have to the Lord.
"My schedule is already set, now I can’t come."
We know that many of you have arranged your schedules to make space for Ekklesia on Friday nights. We are so thankful for your willingness to make Ekklesia a priority you schedule around. We see this as a permanent change. If you have been part of Ekklesia for any amount of time, you should know that change is inevitable. We are asking that you maintain a posture of grace as we continue to discern how to be the people of God in this culture and please rearrange your schedule so you can worship with us. It is the prayer of the staff that this doesn't come across as us guilting you into coming. We trust that you know your self best and we know it is unrealistic for people to be there every night. But we want YOU there because we believe in what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life, and we believe a night change creates an incredible opportunity for us. We will need every person who is committed to the mission of Ekklesia to be on board in order for this opportunity to meet its full potential.
These are the first steps for an incredible next season of Ekklesia.
We know that this is big news and we did not make this change without thoughtful consideration, prayer and wise council. We know that this will not be popular decision among everyone in the community but we are asking that you all trust the Ekklesia staff, come along side this decision and get other people on board with the move to Thursday nights. We believe big things are in-store for Ekklesia. The purchase of Norway Hall, a move to Thursday nights and the continued emphasis on relationships in the context of Community Groups are the first steps we are taking into an incredible new season for Ekklesia.
Let’s follow Him together… It is going to be wild and great.
The Ekklesia Staff,