Why and How We Started a Sunday Evening Service

"On the first Sunday of 2019, our church started a Sunday evening service. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that we 'resurrected' it. Like many churches, our Sunday night service died a slow death years earlier. " - 9Marks

798 reads

There are 6 Comments

TylerR's picture

Editor

We're sort of starting a Sunday evening service! We're primarily doing this to better fulfill the command to love one another. In other words, it's a vehicle for fellowship via bible teaching. This is how it'll go down:

  • Once per month; kicks off 20 October
  • 90 minutes; 1700 - 1830
  • Hosted at a church member's home; location rotates monthly
  • Snacks and coffee
  • Relaxed, very informal environment
  • We begin with prayer, and go through Regular Baptist Press' two BuildUP series. It'll take awhile, and I don't care if it takes years.
  • Goal is to get to better know each other, and study God's word in a very informal, collaborative way.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

T Howard's picture

Paul J wrote:

I think that is what many churches call a small group. Smile

Yep!

That reminds me of a former pastor who railed against churches who canceled their Sunday evening services. He would often guilt the Sunday morning congregation into attending Sunday evenings.  Eventually, he “downgraded” and turned the Sunday evening service into Small Group night.  But, because these small groups met on Sunday evening, he was able to claim that he didn’t drop the Sunday evening service. 

Strange, the things we cling to.

TylerR's picture

Editor

To be sure, I'm not billing it as a Sunday evening service - cuz it isn't! It isn't a "small group," because everyone is invited - not some specified number of people going to Shelly's home, while other folks meet at Ralph's house (etc.). It's just the church, meeting for bible study and fellowship together in someone's home once per month.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dgszweda's picture

Am I getting too old, when we are now talking about "Starting a Sunday Evening Service"?  When I was younger, it was unheard of not having a Sunday Evening Service, then it became fashionable to stop having them and now we are announcing the starting of an evening service.  I am really not this old.

TimG's picture

As a new pastor in the early 2000's, I began serving as our pastors fourth pastor since its founding in the early 1970's. The founding pastor had established a pattern of Sunday School, Sunday morning, Sunday evening services and Wednesday Evening prayer service. Had I been planting a church, I probably wouldn't have set things up that way but accepted what I had inherited with respect and deference toward those on whose foundations I build.

Then in 2015 I was in a DMin class at TEDS (E-Free) and Lawson Younger was decrying what he felt was the absence of theology in the churches. He said something to the effect of, "We are not teaching theology in our churches. We get one half-hour sermon a week that is often evangelistic and small groups always degenerate into fellowship... and YES, I used the term degenerate and fellowship together." I sat that discussion out, being a fundamental Baptist. But I marveled at how they pondered the pointlessness of trying to "bring back adult Sunday School classes" as they were a tool of the past. At that point I felt a bit of culture shock because 60% or more of our adults participate in adult SS and the program is integrally designed to offset the weaknesses of my pulpit ministry (I go through entire books of the Bible rather slowly, SS seeks to cover the entire Bible and Grudem's Systematic Theology every 12 years or so). Sunday evening sees over half of the congregation returning--many small-group ministries would love to have that level of active participation and rarely can assure a robust biblical content. Finally, about 1/3 of the church returns for Wednesday evening prayer. The prayer portion of the evening is 25-35 minutes each week and represents the longest season of prayer for most of us who attend each week. 

I say all of that to say that I'm glad I recognized myself as a man who builds on the foundation of others. While the church is not bound to traditions of the past, a degree of humility and caution about changing things together with some deference toward what I have inherited has come around to be a blessing in many ways. Our Sunday evening services are just one of those blessings. Having said that, it is also the first service to be jettisoned if it is a holiday weekend where we expect our members will be with family for the second half of the day (e.g. Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.) and is also canceled if we have a fellowship meal after the morning service. In this respect, it is used as a bit of a release valve on lest our schedules become more demanding. 

I will add one more plug for Sunday evening services. Without them, my Sunday would be less of a "day of worship" and more of a morning of worship. Knowing the kind of person that I am, there would be fewer restful Sunday afternoons with house guests from church over for lunch and more Sunday mornings where I have the boat fueled up, fishing rods or ski gear loaded and waiting to hit the road after the last "amen," and Sunday would become more of a lake day, snow skiing day, etc. etc. etc. than a day of rest. I don't believe we are under Sabbath laws on Sundays. But I do think that the pattern of a day of rest and worship is a gift from God.

Tim