One of the key pillars of our mission at Nativity is to reach the unchurched and influence other churches to do the same. That means we need space to welcome the unchurched as well as visitors from across the country and around the world that come to us each week.
Less than two years ago we opened our new church building with seating for 1,000. This Easter we completed the balcony with space for 500 more. During that construction we also expanded our parking with hundreds of additional spaces. We also launched a shuttle service, encouraging parking off campus to free up even more space for guests. Meanwhile, our vibrant online experience allows curious people to try us out in the comfort of their home before showing up to our Timonium campus, and we have continued to invest in this campus.
In part due to these strategies, Nativity has experienced measurable growth in the last two years. Which is great. But growth in turn brings its own challenges. One Sunday morning this spring I spent time experiencing our campus and facilities at peek times (from a guest’s perspective) and I was amazed at the volume, and the ensuing traffic jams and tie ups, inside and outside. It became clear to me that something needed to be done, which is when we began an internal discussion about our weekend schedule.
This weekend we will be announcing a new schedule to be launched the weekend of August 3rd & 4th:
Confessions Saturday, 12:30-2:30pm
Masses Saturday, 5pm, Sunday 9, 10:45am, 12:30 & 5:30pm
We will be adding children’s programs for grades 1-5 on Saturday at 5pm (as well as those on Sunday morning). Student programs will be scheduled on Sunday afternoons and evenings.
Obviously, the basic change is a little more time between Masses. What’s the big deal? Well, that additional margin, we believe, will create more “space” in three major ways:
We want it to be as easy and as safe as possible for the unchurched to come to Mass. Increased time between Masses will allow our parking ministers to safely improve traffic flow and maximize parking space availability. We’re also rebranding our shuttle service (“The Nativity Express”) and launching a promotions campaign for the fall getting more church members to park off of West Ridgely Road.
Volunteer ministers are the key to creating a positive first impression for guests. It starts the moment they arrive on campus with our parking ministers but continues with greeters, hosts, and café ministers. Increased time between Masses will allow our ministry teams to regroup and be better prepared.
3. Concourse & Café
Our Concourse and Cafe naturally encourage guests, members, and staff to stick around after Mass and mingle. These interactions create the relationships that lead to real community and conversion. More time between the Masses makes this more manageable and more attractive. We’re also rebranding our Guest Services Kiosk on the Concourse as our “Welcome Center” where our ministers can meet and greet our guests.
We are looking forward to kicking-off our new Mass schedule with you in the coming weeks.