In 1787, John Wesley recorded in his journals the outcome of a worship schedule change.
The Methodists changed the time of their prayer and preaching service to be the same time as regular church. This was undoubtedly not something that Wesley was enthusiastic about, but I suspect was urged strongly by Methodists who were not as attached to the Church of England as he was.
In his estimation, according to a note on Nov. 5, 1787, that experiment failed.
The congregation was, as usual, large and serious. But there is no increase in the society. So that we have profited nothing by having our service in the church-hours, which some imagined would have done wonders.
We can see here Wesley’s practical side, but it is more striking to me how he measures the success or failure of the move: Did it enhance the size and work of the Methodist society?
In other words, if I interpret him properly, what mattered was not bodies in pews on Sunday but disciples in formation as part of the society. In our language, what he really wanted was not more worship attendance, but larger numbers of people engaging in “intentional faith development.”