Pastor Rick: What Happened to the Traditional Service?

by Pastor Rick Henderson

Recently I went to dinner for the first time since moving to Minnesota. The server apologetically informed us that it was their first night back and they were offering a limited menu. That didn’t bother me. It was my first time there and I didn’t know what I was missing.

If that was your favorite haunt, however, you would know exactly what you were missing. Imagine the disappointment of going to your favorite restaurant, after months of lockdown, only to find out that your favorite dish wasn’t being served—yet. That may describe how some of you are feeling regarding the traditional service. I was recently asked, “Since we’re open, where’s the traditional service?”

Just like the restaurant I mentioned, Autumn Ridge is opening with a limited menu. We are excited to offer Sunday services that you can attend. And yet, the majority of people will continue to engage by watching our services online or on ABC Channel 6. Thousands of people watch our service broadcasts weekly, yet the maximum that we can accommodate at our weekend services is 500.  

This means that staff and pastors of Autumn Ridge are busy producing digital services and in-person services. That often means twice the effort. Approximately 170 hours are spent each week producing video content. We will continue to produce a contemporary and a traditional service for broadcast. At this time, we can only conduct one kind of service at our weekend gatherings. There simply aren’t enough staff hours or resources to do both.

So, why have we opted for a contemporary service? I’m happy to share why. Before I do I want to make clear this is a temporary decision. There are no plans, desires or strategy to eliminate the traditional service. We will bring it back. We simply can’t bring it back yet. Here are some of the reasons that have guided our decision.

  1. We are unable to include most of the elements that make the traditional service great.
  • Because we are limited to one singer, we can’t host a choir.
  • Many traditional service volunteers, musicians, and attenders would consider themselves part of the higher risk category.
  1. We are not mandating, but we are encouraging those who are in the high-risk group to not yet attend. We would have to violate our commitment to love if we asked high-risk volunteers to return at this time.
  2. If we can only provide one service, it will be the service that has the broadest possible appeal. Our weekend services will regularly include songs that should cause lovers of the traditional service to feel at home.

Just like restaurants, we are open. The menu is limited; it’s just a matter of time.