10 Reasons We Still Have Sunday Evening Service

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Ed Vasicek's picture

I agree it is important to meet Sunday night, if people will actually support it. But when they do,, why do we only have one track?  Every time we get together it has to be preaching, singing, praying, and offering.  Well, it doesn't have to be.  More of the same is not always better.

We need to do all these things, but not always in the same mix and not always all the time.  A Bible study (with opportunities for discussion) can be a great alternative to another round of preaching.  We sometimes have a Bible study the entire hour, with only an opening prayer.  It is different.  We do this twice a month, sometimes three times.

Another Sunday we have our "Jesus Lodge," a time for fun together.  The guys play cards (we are not Baptists) or dominoes,while the gals either play games, do scrap booking, or just talk.  This lasts an hour.  Then we break up into two rooms (guys and gals) for 1/2 hour of prayer.  Years ago, we also had a Body Life service a few times a year where a layman would speak and we would hold communion.

Once in a while we have a talent night (mostly secular but wholesome) or a Creation video or some other edifying video or a food contest. This week we will have one of our 3 or 4 contests we do per year.  The categories are soups, breads, and pies fot this one.  We have three judges for each categories, and winners in each category get a $10 gift card to the Christian bookstore.  Sure, it costs our church $30 every time we have one, but it is worth it. Great fellowship and an opportunity to invite friends.  WE have a prayer before the meal, but no token devotional (I do not like token devotionals, they flow, IMO, from a need we have to justify everything we do -- a bad, guilt-driven idea, IMO, and part of what I mean by "heritage of inhibition"). Whether you like our format or not, it at least is not the same old "one act" rut that evangelicalism has inherited from this inhibited past. So we do teach on Sunday night quite often, but we are focused on building Body Life, too.  This is difficult to do in a formal "repeat church" service.

More of the same might be okay for the kind of people who eat the same meal every Monday, every Tuesday, etc., but for the many people who prefer variety, let's mix it up!

 

"The Midrash Detective"

DLCreed's picture

1.  We do not own our own facilities.  We meet in a school.  It is very difficult to find facilities that will hold 1,000 people on a regular basis -- particularly when we must work around the landlord's schedules.

2.  We encourage and facilitate our families to meet in small groups in their local communities during the week and monitor participation to ensure that they are prioritized administratively.

3.  We teach expositionally each Sunday morning for at least 45 minutes.  This loads folks with plenty of material to facilitate personal growth and discuss in small groups later in the week.

4. We do not do "seeker-oriented" or exclusively evangelistic Sunday morning services.  The Gospel is regularly presented through the text we are studying, but the service is designed around believers.

5. We have a stated value within our church that we will not over-schedule our families with church activities and place the responsibility on the shoulders of the parents to disciple their family and for each person to exercise the responsibility they have as "priests" to grow spiritually throughout the week.

6. In our community, most folks would not come to a Sunday night service if it was offered.  Many drive good distances to attend and many are professionals who work 50+ hour weeks and often are required to fly out on Monday morning early for their work week.

7. We offer extensive additional teaching opportunities and learning settings on Sunday mornings with a wide variety of discipleship, Christian living, ministry training and practical theology classes ranging in length from 2 weeks to months long.

8. We offer additional training and instructional opportunities via podcasts and videos for our church family via the internet.

9. We expect all of our volunteers to attend church weekly on Sunday morning so that no one misses Sunday teaching -- having multiple service hours give us this opportunity.  Some stay for three full sessions -- they worship at one, take a class at another and serve at a third.

10. We refuse to be tied to tradition in any area of ministry and find that many service schedules are built around an era that no longer exists in our region or local community.

We are not opposed to those who want to do the "Three to Thrive" Sunday a.m./Sunday p.m./Wednesday night meetings.  We just feel that they are no longer the best schedule for accomplishing the ministry objectives we have as a church family.  Neither do we expect that just because we are doing it a different way that others should follow our model anymore than we feel guilty or obligated to change back when traditionalists feel the need to give lists often intended to demonstrate that they are still "old paths" folks.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

There are ways, other than a Sunday night service, to experience everything on the list - including but not limited to small groups and evangelistic opportunities, and community-based ministry opportunities. 

Jim's picture

Considering what I see in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis / Saint Paul):

  • Christians who see the value of an evening service join churches that have an evening service
  • Christians who do not see the value of an evening service join churches that do not have an evening service (and there are a lot of very good churches that not not have an evening service) 
Mark_Smith's picture

This is not an attack, merely a question. Where are you at that a church of 1000 people can't afford to buy/build/rent their own building?

jhorneck3723's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

This is not an attack, merely a question. Where are you at that a church of 1000 people can't afford to buy/build/rent their own building?

I'm not him, but as my church begins growing to a size where we could consider a building, we have decided not to for several reasons:

  1. I spend almost no time maintaining or getting someone else to maintain our building. We set up chairs. We take down chairs. I vacuum my often less often than I should. That's it. I have friends who spend 25%+ of their time on facilities. I prefer my way.
  2. If you have a building you use a building. I'd rather be out in the community than in our building.
  3. We are growing and we would struggle to afford a building that will have enduring usefulness if we continue to grow.
  4. I fully expect to lose tax exempt status in the next 20 years if I am unwilling to perform a gay marriage. No building = no property tax.

 

DLCreed's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

This is not an attack, merely a question. Where are you at that a church of 1000 people can't afford to buy/build/rent their own building?

Legit question....we live in a metropolitan area where prices are high and we have a very conservative philosophy about assuming debt.  In my opinion, we waited too long to get a permanent site on which to build, but then again, we use elder leadership and as such, no one person gets to determine how much debt we'll hold as a body.  We are 10 years old.

Ron Bean's picture

Is it a good stewardship to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a "house" that you live in less than 10 hours a week? 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

dmyers's picture

At my suggestion, my family stopped attending our IFB church's Sunday evening service probably 15 years ago.  My reason?  Family time.  Some may object that there are plenty of other opportunities for family time during the week, but that wasn't the case for us.  All four of our children were young (all under 10).  During those years I worked first for a law firm that required a significant amount of billable hours and I had a significant commute.  Later I was in the midst of starting a separate 3-man law firm with a shorter commute but with a heavy responsibility to get existing work done while also beating the bushes for more work.  Combine my long hours with young children's early bedtimes, and I did not see the kids for any extended time any night of the week (and Wednesday was church).  Saturday, of course, was primarily for errands and chores, and then whatever family time we could fit in.  While we enjoyed the Sunday evening service, I realized at a certain point that Sunday evening service basically ruined Sunday (and Monday morning) for us.  We'd be done with lunch at perhaps 2:00, most of the kids would need naps (and the parents too), and then we'd either need to get ready for church again immediately or at least soon enough that there wasn't time for extended interaction. Almost invariably, some or all of us would be grouchy in the process of getting ready to go.  The service itself would be good, but there was no time for fellowship with other members and no time for family time after the service because it was bedtime again for the kids.  Other than perhaps nap time on Sunday afternoon, the rest of the afternoon and evening were a blur of activity.  Having put the kids to bed, I'd be frustrated at the lack of time with them, and frequently they'd be getting to bed later than usual with bad results Monday morning when it was time to get them up and ready for school.  Once we took the Sunday evening service off the schedule, all of a sudden we parents could relax in the knowledge that we were going to have a block of several hours in the afternoon and evening to just concentrate on spending time with the kids.  Then we could put them to bed at a decent hour, with no rush or hectic bustle (no more than usual, anyway), and could do so feeling relaxed about it.  It was a big difference for us as a family and I was glad I'd made that call.  We did get challenged on it by various friends in the church and I did my best to explain it.  They didn't necessarily agree, but they saw we were still there for Wednesday night, AWANA, Sunday School, and Sunday morning service, along with special services, so it became a non-issue relatively quickly.  I think pretty much every church we've attended since then -- Southern Baptist, GARBC, PCA, non-denominational -- hasn't even had a Sunday evening service.  I believe the IFB church still has an evening service, but the attendance is pretty sparse.

Also, I agree with jhorneck's point in his linked post -- the necessary implication of many of Pastor Chappell's reasons for sticking with a Sunday evening service is that we should be having church every night of the week.  As jhorneck points out, the reason we don't is because it's impractical.  Those who don't have an evening service on Sunday have simply decided that the practicality line gets drawn after the Sunday morning service rather than after the evening service.

G. N. Barkman's picture

What pastor has not wrestled with this question?  To continue a Sunday night meeting goes increasingly against the flow of our day.  In our area, the churches that do not now outnumber those who do, and those who do are usually struggling with declining attendance.  So, why do we continue to have a Sunday night church service?

1)  Because we continue to have good attendance, which we believe means it is still valued by the majority of our people.

2)  Because it gives opportunity for other men to preach.  I preach on Sunday night only three or four times a year.  However, I preach every Sunday morning unless I am absent or sick.  Sunday night gives other gifted men opportunity to minister and develop their gifts.

One word of caution.  I have observed that churches that drop Sunday night, then try to get it back, usually fail.  If you are doing well, think long and hard about letting it go.  Once gone, it is probably gone forever unless a God sends genuine revival.

G. N. Barkman

Ed Vasicek's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

One word of caution.  I have observed that churches that drop Sunday night, then try to get it back, usually fail.  If you are doing well, think long and hard about letting it go.  Once gone, it is probably gone forever unless a God sends genuine revival.

I agree that the above is typically the case, but we are an exception.

We dropped regular Sunday night services and met about 2 or 3 times a month  Sunday night for various things (food contests, our "Jesus Lodge," etc.). What started Sunday night Bible studies back up was the interest of three or four families or individuals, half of whom were new to the church.  We now meet every Sunday night for something -- as mentioned above.  Although we might only have 15 or 20 people at our Bible Study, it is a wonderful time.  But we do not use a guilt trip nor do we try to push people to come. We look at it as an opportunity for those who both want to come and can come.  Several of our board members do not come Sunday night, and we are fine with that. We have some great times, because the people who are there WANT to be there.

I do think, as stated above, that, for some people, staying home as a family can be a good choice.  As for me, I enjoy Sunday nights more than ever.

Note: Our youth meets the same time, and we do not meet on holiday weekends.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jim's picture

Honestly when I was a pastor the people who didn't come on Sunday night were viewed as 'unfaithful' ... 'not committed'. 

I wonder how much of that type of marginalization still exists? 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Jim wrote:
 Honestly when I was a pastor the people who didn't come on Sunday night were viewed as 'unfaithful' ... 'not committed'. 

I wonder how much of that type of marginalization still exists? 

I'm from a "You need to be in church every time the doors are open" background, and "In the good ol' days, people went to church every day, so we should too". I've even heard it said that if your job keeps you from attending church, you need to get another job, which of course God will provide because He wants you to be in church, and if you are sick, you should attend anyway because you go to work sick all the time, don't you?

There is IMO a lack of discernment between 'descriptive' and 'prescriptive' on this issue, as well as when making judgments about someone's spiritual state based on their church attendance.

Ron Bean's picture

I'm sure the marginalization of those who don't attend Sunday evening still exists as it does for those who don't attend community groups or fellowship times.

Try finding family time in a church where Sunday activities go on all day (SS, worship, nursing home, choir practice, evening service), plus Wednesday Prayer Meeting, plus Tuesday and Saturday visitation, Friday youth group, various group times, and officers meetings.

While there's no Biblical mandate for Sunday evening services, we may be able to learn valuable lessons from church history.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Larry Nelson's picture

 

For many Christians, Sunday is hardly a day of rest.  Like Ron Bean conveys above, it can end up being just as hectic, if not more so, than any other day of the week.

My church does not have a scheduled Sunday evening service.  (Once in a while, we will meet on Sunday evenings for special services for some things.)  We do however have a Saturday evening service (begun this past summer), in addition to three Sunday morning services.  (All four services have the same message preached.)

Here's what my weekend church attendance looked like: I was there for the Saturday service, in both attender and volunteer capacities.

[BTW, this service has exceeded our expectations.  We started it to hopefully see new faces, and it's doing exactly that.  We're seeing new people attending who normally work on Sundays (which statistically is around 1/3 of the working population), and we're even--to our surprise!--seeing good numbers of transient travelers who are staying at one of the nearby motels/hotels on Saturday nights.  Our curbside electronic sign saying "Saturday Service: 5 PM" is drawing some of them in.  We just set our record for Saturday service attendance: 335.]

Sunday morning, I was at church at 7:30, to do some early tasks that I usually attend to.  I then attended the 1st of the three services.  I normally teach a S.S. class during the 2nd service time, but this week I didn't have to: classes were cancelled due to the New Year's Day holiday weekend.  Nevertheless, I volunteered in other capacities during both the 2nd and 3rd service times.  Following the 3rd service, I went through the sanctuary collecting plastic communion cups from all four weekend services (Sat & Sun), which is no simple task when it entails collecting around 2,000 cups.  Following that, I helped do some tear-down/set-up in some rooms to prepare them for the preschool/daycare that uses that wing of the building from Monday to Friday.

When I left, it was about 1:30 Sunday afternoon.  I was tired.  Would I have come back to a Sunday evening service if we had one?  I'm not so sure.  Factoring in the fact that I get up about 4:45 on weekdays to go to work, I'm even less convinced.

At that point, does that display a lack of commitment on my part, or am I just seeking some rest on the seventh day of the week?

 

DLCreed's picture

Jim wrote:

Honestly when I was a pastor the people who didn't come on Sunday night were viewed as 'unfaithful' ... 'not committed'. 

I wonder how much of that type of marginalization still exists? 

A LOT.  When attendance falls, rather than try to find the legitimate cause or discontinue what we've always done, it is generally the predictable knee-jerk response to try to manipulate greater participation in one fashion or another.