Seven Trends in Worship Service Times

If your church has one service at 11:00 am on Sunday mornings, it is likely in the minority. In a recent reader survey we conducted with 1,649 responses, slightly over half of the congregations had only one worship service on Sunday morning, and the times of that single service varied.

The “sacred hour” of 11:00 am is no longer the worship time for a majority of churches.

Though we don’t have definitive information on the origin of the 11:00 am worship time, it appears to be related to an agrarian society. We started our services late in the morning so the farmers could milk the cows and do necessary farm chores.

So what are the trends in worship service times? Our information is based upon the survey we noted above as well as anecdotal data derived from our interaction with thousands of churches.

  1. Churches with multiple Sunday morning services will soon be in the majority. This trend, once more common with larger churches, is now taking hold in congregations of all sizes.
  2. The 11:00 am worship service is no longer the designated time for a majority of churches. The so-called sacred hour of worship is not sacred in most churches. This change started slowly, but it is pervasive now.
  3. Earlier Sunday morning services are gaining in popularity. Worship services with start times from 7:00 am to 8:30 am are growing in many churches. This trend seems to be related to the growth of empty-nest boomers.
  4. The growth in the number of non-Sunday primary services is steady but slow. There has not been a huge upsurge in the number of primary services on a day other than Sunday. The steady growth, however, is an indication that this approach will soon be common in many churches.
  5. The number of churches with concurrent worship service times is small, but will continue to increase. Concurrent services require either a video feed or different preaching/teaching pastors. As the trend in multi-site churches continues to grow, so will these service times.
  6. The most popular worship times start between 9:30 am to 10:30 am. This mid-morning worship time attracts attendees in churches with both single and multiple worship services. As I noted in number three above, I anticipate a shift in popularity to even earlier services.
  7. Worship wars over service times will continue to wane. Though the worship wars have largely been about music style, there have been many wars over worship times as well. We will see fewer of these battles as more churches adopt varieties of worship times.

What are your church’s worship times for its primary weekly services? Has your church made any major changes lately? What have been the results? Let me hear from you

Posted on May 25, 2015

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • I’m a little behind the curve on commenting to this post, but… Our church is about to begin two services. I’ve read in some places that it’s best to change the current service time when adding the new time. For example, we begin at 10:15am. Based on some things I’ve read it would be advisable to change the 10:15 time to 10 or 10:30 but not leave it at 10:15 and then adding the earlier service. In my opinion it doesn’t seem to be a big deal either way. Am I missing something? Would love to hear any opinions or thoughts.

    • Hi Scott! I will be more than happy to address the quarter hour topic. I attend a contemporary Methodist church in the Midwest and have been in our building about 10 years. This might get lengthy but here we go:

      School year schedule: It used to be 9:00 1st service with concurrent Sunday School and 10:15 second service right after we moved into our building. We quickly learned we didn’t have sufficient space to hold SS, and attendance would decline over the course of the year, and moved to 2 services with a stand-alone SS time in between. We decided upon 8:45/9:45/10:45. This time was a compromise between what we called the 8:30 group (I want to worship so I can get going on the rest of my day) and the 9:00 group (I want to go to first service but there’s no way I can get my kids ready by 8:30). Ironically, the first service has about half the attendance of the second.

      Summer schedule: We go to a single service during the summer. This time has bounced all over the place. In the first years of the building, it was at 10:30, then we switched pastors and the service went to 10:00. We switched pastors again and a group emerged that advocated moving the service to 9:00, again stating the time would allow them to get going on their day. This was gaining some momentum until the ministry groups (band, ushers, tech, coffee) came forward with a statement that if the service went to 9:00 they were all taking summers off. After some debate, the service time became 9:45, and has stayed there for 5 years. We also have a Wednesday night service during the summer, and averages about 25-30.

  • This is a pretty timely issue for us as we are considering changing service times. We presently have 8:15, 9:30, 11 Sunday schools and 9:30 – contemporary (band driven) 11-Blended (choir/orchestra driven) schedule. We are looking to have a Unified Sunday School at 9:30 and the blended moved to 8:30am and the contemporary at 11am. Is anyone else doing this? How has it worked for you?

  • “Classic” Worship is at 9am with Choir and Hymnals
    Sunday School is at 10:10am
    “Contemporary” Worship is at 11:11am with praise band
    Sunday School attendance is about 200
    Classic Service attendance is about 150 to 165
    Contemporary Service Attendance is about 140 to 155
    Sanctuary seats about 350 comfortably

  • We currently have 2 campuses, at one campus we have two service times: 9:15am & 11:00am second campus service time: 11:00am.

    We will be moving into a new facility in the fall that will accommodate our total Sunday attd for all 3 services plus room for growth. We are considering continuing with 2 services or moving to 1 service. Do you have any thoughts our recommendations concerning 1 versus 2 services?

  • Still 11 AM. Still the worship “hour.” Out within minutes of 12 Noon (+/-).

  • Brian White says on

    We have a Saturday night 7p service which started because of the large number of Delta Airlines families in our community. It still remains a viable service. We also have traditional service at 8:30a and 11a in the main sanctuary on Sunday morning and a 10:45 contemporary service in the fellowship hall. We’re a Lutheran church with our own touring praise band/team and a second praise band/team. The music in the contemporary service is a combination of Christian radio covers, original works by the band and contemporary arrangements of traditional hymns. We also have two ordained Pastors and a thriving Lay Minister team … These assets make holding several services of varying style possible. I could not imagine being able to pull off that schedule every Sunday without all these volunteers.

  • We have a 9am & 11am with Sunday School in the middle. Our 9am is our contemporary service and has grown over the past 5 years to the point where we will soon match the traditional service. The two major reason people prefer that time slot; 1. People that have young children. They are already wired to be up at that time because of school. 2. Lots like to still have activities on Sundays and can do both when they attend the earlier service.

  • Sundays
    8:30am prayer meeting
    9:30am Bible class (Galatians series, continues on Wednesday nights)
    11am Worship service (Congregational hymn singing, Isaiah series).
    6pm Evening service (student pastors teach on rotational basis
    7:30pm Ministry workshop (systematic theology, church history, etc.)

    9am ladies prayer, mens ministry mentoring
    10am Family class (Proverbs series)
    6:30pm prayer meeting
    7:30pm Bible class (Galatians series)

  • Hi. I know times have changed but I really do miss and prefer the 11:00 a.m. start-time for the main church service. Getting used to the 10:30 a.m. service has been difficult for me, especially as we don’t live as close to our church as we once did. Also, although this may seem like a very personal/individual reason, we like to watch the CBS Sunday Morning show with Charles Osgood before going to service and it ends at 10:30 a.m. It is one of the few positive, inspiring, and uplifting (though non-religioius) shows, and really gets one off to such a positive mindset before even leaving the house, that it also became a Sunday morning tradition in our home. Recording it and watching later would just not be the same.

  • Hal Hunter says on

    Over the past 15 years we have changed things around several times, trying to find the “sweet spot.” We have not had a lot of resistance to changes (after the first time – those who strongly objected left for a church that observed the obviously Jesus-approved 11:00 am worship time), We have ended up at 9:00 and 10:30, (both services identical contemporary style) with a recently added 6:00 pm (identical to morning, but with different music set with fewer musicians). Kids 5th grade and younger meet at the same time adults and older students worship. We ran out of adult small group space years ago and weren’t willing to mortgage our grandkids to build extra classroom space, so no adult Sunday morning “Sunday School.” They meet in homes during the week in LifeGroups.

    We added back Sunday evening because there are many who simply work or are otherwise obligated Sunday morning. We are not asking people to come back a second time – we are seeking to accommodate a different group entirely.

    Our High School students have a primary worship on Wednesday evening, and Middle School on Thursday. This includes a student-led worship set, a message, and age and gender separated small group time.

1 3 4 5 6 7 9