Is a bite-sized church service a helpful introduction for those who are new to faith, or simply an easy way for too-busy Christians to tick ‘church’ off their to-do-lists?


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When I heard that St David’s Church in Penllergaer, near Swansea, is set to offer a 15 minute ‘microchurch’ service to accommodate people’s “busy, working lives”, I immediately felt torn.

As someone with ADHD, I find that if a Sunday sermon stretches beyond the 30-minute mark, I’m rarely able to remain focussed, even if I’m enjoying the message. The “little and often” approach to my walk with Jesus is the most effective way for me to remain close to God.

On this basis, 15 minute church could be a helpful addition for some people. Christians have often been described as “leaky buckets”, starting the week feeling full from our time together on the Sabbath but, over time, gradually starting to feel empty. This could be an excellent opportunity to top up, pointing us back to Jesus and filling us afresh with his Spirit, grace, patience, discipline and love for others.

Much like going to the gym for the first time, church can be daunting for non-regulars

On the other hand, it could be seen as a (lesser) replacement for going to a (longer) Sunday gathering. For some, it may encourage the view that attending church is just one more thing to tick off your to-do list as you go through the week trying to balance all the spinning plates without hearing the crash of crockery.

Post-Covid, many people have still not returned to in-person church attendance, choosing to instead watch online. It’s possible that this might encourage apathy and laziness – the (rightfully) dreaded “lukewarm” approach to faith which Jesus speaks very strongly against in Revelation 3:15-16.

Too busy to make time

It throws up other important questions too.

If your faith is important to you but you’re regularly too busy to attend church for longer than 15 minutes a week, are you too busy? Personally, I think so. I’m cautious to set an amount of time that Christians should devote to being with God each week, but if God is supposed to be the main thing in a Christian’s life, I would say that 15 minutes a week isn’t enough.

As a full-time content creator, another question also crossed my mind: Is this initiative about busyness or attention span? And what impact is social media having on the latter? I wrestle with this all the time.

On the one hand, it’s true that humankind have always loved entertainment. Games, comedy, music and performances are as old as the hills. But what has changed is how we consume them. Rather than having to go somewhere to be entertained in our free time, we can now access almost everything at our fingertips, whenever and wherever we want.

This has had a wide - and often negative - impact on many aspects of our lives. Studies show that mental health has gradually declined since the introduction of the smart phone. People report being lonelier than ever before. Attention spans are getting shorter.

No pain, no gain

So do these brief church services meet people where they’re at, or exacerbate the problem? Do they risk pandering to those who need to be stretched, or are they a great opportunity to spend a little extra time with God?

I guess much depends on how these bite-sized services are led. Much like a good personal trainer wouldn’t encourage a client to only exercise for 15 minutes a week, a good pastor wouldn’t assume that a quarter of an hour is enough to help people “train themselves to be godly” (in the words of 1 Timothy 4:7-8).

If you’re too busy to attend church for longer than 15 minutes a week, are you too busy?


Rev Dr John Gillibrand

In defence of the man behind 15 minute church, Rev Dr John Gillibrand, I don’t for a second think this initiative is about replacing Sunday church. More likely, it’s about providing an extra opportunity to ‘train’ midweek, or even hear the gospel for the first time.

As Rev Gillibrand says, the services “are open to all, not just existing church members.” As such, and to continue the exercise analogy, it may well be that, for some, this is a bit like a gym induction or trial session. A chance to try something new in a bite-sized way. Because let’s face it, much like going to the gym for the first time, church can be a little daunting for those who aren’t regulars.

If it’s led in a way that extends an invitation to wider church attendance, this initiative could be a great introduction for those not yet regularly attending church - and an excellent opportunity for those who do to top up during the week.

I will be praying for St David’s Church, and Rev Gillibrand, that 15 minute church does exactly that for the community.