Pastor Dean Taylor’s church recently decided to continue conducting Sunday evening services. His thoughts below are aimed mainly at the Calvary congregation, but they offer a helpful perspective on why one church is keeping the practice going—as well as some ideas for doing this service effectively. —Editor
I’m speaking of a national trend. Many churches that used to have a Sunday evening service don’t anymore. There is much theorizing about reasons for that. Thom Ranier wrote about it last year. His article, along with the comments, is very helpful in understanding this trend.
Our pastors recently spent time analyzing, discussing, praying about, and planning for our Sunday evening gatherings at Calvary. We believe there is great value in what is provided during our second Lord’s Day gathering. This service is a vital part of our church’s life. We are refining the service’s focus and content and encouraging our people to make the effort to avail themselves and their families of what we prepare and offer. We want to give our people good reasons to make the second trip.
One significant change we’re making is the start time. Previously the evening service has started at 6:00 pm. Our new start time, beginning this Sunday, is 5:00. We plan to finish by 6:00. This enables families with children to get home, have some family time, and get the kids in bed at a decent hour. It also allows people to have unrushed fellowship during the evening. There’s time to get together at someone’s home or go out for a snack. This is a great opportunity to grow closer to one another.
Another adjustment we’re making is the content focus of the service. Our second Sunday service is not a repeat of the first, and it is not just another of the same kind. We will still give praise to our Savior in song, but our singing time is a little less formal, with more of a family sing-a-long feel. We will often have times of testimony, either from people who are asked or open sharing from our church family. The content of the preaching and teaching will be focused on passages and topics that relate to daily life and our walk with God in practical ways.
We want everything we do to have purpose and be shaped by that purpose. Some people may ask, “Why would I add another event to my day? Why should I make another trip? Why go to church twice on a Sunday?” Here are my answers to those questions.
- God’s Word is infinitely rich with truth and wisdom, and we can always learn more. The second time we gather to learn from the Word is an opportunity for us to grasp more of these wonderful truths and apply them to our lives.
- Jesus is worthy of praise because He is Lord and because He loved us and gave Himself for us. During our second Sunday service, we praise Him with our songs. We also give thanks to Him with our testimonies. These personal stories of God’s blessing and working are encouraging to all.
- In the evening service you learn what the Scriptures have to say about topics that relate to your daily life, your family, and your walk with God. It is the goal of the pastors to make the Sunday evening messages practical. We will explain the Word and talk about how to live by it in specific areas of our lives. The upcoming topic relates to how we communicate with one another—we all need help with this!
- If you stay for a few minutes after, you can converse with others and get to know members of the Calvary family. You might even decide to go out for a bite to eat together. People are in a little more of a hurry to leave after Sunday morning. In the evening, there is more time to just sit and talk, to meet that new person or hang out with your friends.
- If you have children, they will be learning and growing in groups designed for them while you do the same. Truth Trackers for kids and Youth Group for teens is going on at the same time. Don’t just drop them off and keep going. There’s something for you, too!
We always find time to do what we value. I look forward to spending time on Sunday afternoons with the Calvary family.
Dean Taylor is Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. He has served in pastoral ministry for twenty-five years. Dean is a graduate of Bob Jones University and Seminary (BA Bible, MA Theology, MDiv) and Northland International University (DSM). His delights include his family, reading, and the great outdoors.