Which schedule MOST closely fits your churches standard practice? (not counting home flock or study groups); please discuss

Tradtional: Sunday School (SS), Morning Service, Evening Service, Midweek Meeting
67% (16 votes)
Traditonal Minus midweek
8% (2 votes)
Traditional minus evening service
4% (1 vote)
Traditional plus more than one morning service
0% (0 votes)
Traditional with small groups Sunday night replacing evening service
0% (0 votes)
Service(s) only, with or without simultaneous children's ministry
4% (1 vote)
SS and Morning (or multiple) services (same sermon)
4% (1 vote)
No choice above is all that close to what we do
13% (3 votes)
Total votes: 24
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There are 28 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

We are barely keeping our Sunday night service (activities alive) and had to cancel midweek prayer meeting 15 years ago.

Although we have flock groups on a monthly basis that include some people, we are really down to one time slot, Sunday morning (Two services with the same sermon and Sunday School sandwiched in-between). I particularly miss the old days of a vibrant evening service.

What is your church's schedule like, and how do you feel about it?

"The Midrash Detective"

BryanBice's picture

We do the traditional, but like Ed, would love to see some vibrancy return to the evening service. Actually, I'd like to see PEOPLE return FOR the service--then there might be some vibrancy return! I've explored a bunch of other options, but have yet to see anything that would actually 1) be helpful and/or 2) be acceptable in our context. Won't keep me from looking, though.

As far as Wed. PM, we do a children/youth program at the same time as a prayer meeting. Participation is so-so, but again, no other option seems that it would really be effective or a good fit in our context.

Ann B.'s picture

Since adulthood I've always gone to traditional church services (three per week). I've been through the "three to thrive" way of thinking. And I'm tired. The best Sundays of all are when we have something like homecoming, then a brief afternoon service, and nothing in the evenings. It's such a delight to go home and know we don't have to get out again. We can really relax and REST that way.

I think there is a silent majority out there that has the same opinion.

PLewis's picture

Our evening services are kind of all over the map .. MUCH more casual ..

A year or so ago there was a "suggestion" that we eliminate Sunday evening.. 2 of the deacons ( my husband and another) felt this would be a huge mistake ..

We've done a variety of things - but we get very large turnouts when we do a video series w/discussion afterward. We've done some of the Answers in Genesis .. The Truth Project from Focus on the Family ..

These are popular - I think because it's kind of "small group" .. We did have to break out the Truth Project into multiple groups for discussion because it was so popular.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The church we are visiting has a traditional schedule, all of the services are generally the same, as far as spirit and dynamic goes. Wednesday nights are great, probably because those attending are the spiritual core of the church. It doesn't hurt that their kids' clubs are before the main service on Wed either. And I very much like it when kids' programs don't keep families apart for teaching and preaching and worship.

Jim's picture

Ann B. wrote:
Since adulthood I've always gone to traditional church services (three per week). I've been through the "three to thrive" way of thinking. And I'm tired.

Our church has the traditional SS (Adult Bible Fellowship) / AM and PM service on Sunday. We go to all mostly. My wife works overnights doing IT work. If she works overnight she sleeps all day and then we don't go to the PM.

I understand the tired part. We work probably 50 -60 hours a week. We get home at 6 or 6:30 (sometimes 7) and no longer go to the Wed service. Hopefully when we retire we can get back in the prayer meeting grove again.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Ann B. wrote:
Since adulthood I've always gone to traditional church services (three per week). I've been through the "three to thrive" way of thinking. And I'm tired. The best Sundays of all are when we have something like homecoming, then a brief afternoon service, and nothing in the evenings. It's such a delight to go home and know we don't have to get out again. We can really relax and REST that way.

I think there is a silent majority out there that has the same opinion.

Ann, I think you are right. Yours is obviously the majority opinion. The problem this creates, however, is that the Biblical mandates regarding the nature of church meetings have to be reconfigured. For example, on Sunday night we had more body life; we used to entertain testimonies, prayer requests, develop speakers or musicians, take hymns by request, and fellowship. Our morning services were more formal. We prayed on Wednesday night. What has happened is that we have either eliminated (or greatly reduced via non-pariticipation) those things we accomplished Sunday night and Wednesday, which is why we need to reconsider what is MOST essential and include it Sunday morning, thus excluding other things that are less essential.

Rather than feel the pressure to integrate some of these in some way Sunday morning, most churches have just let them drop off. In their view, only what was originally accomplished Sunday morning is the most crucial. I do not know if that is right.

"The Midrash Detective"

Rev Karl's picture

Long ago in a galaxy... well, about 23 years ago, anyway, we attended a church here in Florida which was one of the BIG churches in the area. The pastor's philospohy was, if you are going to expect people to come to a service at church, you should give them a FULL church service every time. Every service had hymns, choir specials, and "special music". There were several small musical groups (Men, Ladies, Youth, Mixed quartet) that were able to participate. As mentioned above, the Sunday night and Wednesday night services were where younger, newer ministers would have a chance to sing, testify, etc... But the church was big enough and had enough participation to maintain this schedule year round.

They also had a Christian School, a strong bus ministry, a mid-week meal at the church and an AWANA program simultaneously with the adult service on Wednesday.

It's not a philosophy I necessarily support or discourage. It's just an observation of a program that, in this case, worked.

EDIT:
(I guess I should mention that, when that pastor left, attendance dwindled from 1,200 to 300, and it hasn't ever been the same since. The atmosphere of the congregation changed with the new pastor, and most of the core families of the church moved on to other churches which remained "traditional" in program and practice.)

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Here is our weekly Schedule:
Sunday Schedule
9:30 a.m. Spiritual Growth Groups
10:30 a.m. Worship Service
11:30 a.m. Snacks and Fellowship
Noon - Praise and Prayer Service

Wednesday Night Ministries at 7:00 p.m.
Nursery
Kids4Truth
Youth Meeting
Adult Bible Study

We also have choir practice on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

The dynamics of congregations have changed over my lifetime.
1. Many congregations, like ours, consist of people who are spread out significant distances from the church and from each other.
2. When I was a child, many of the women did not work. Today, most women have to work.
3. When I was a child, many of the men worked 5 days a week. Most men in my church work 6 days a week now.

Those things to affect church schedules. About 5 or 6 years ago, we changed our schedule because of these things.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
The dynamics of congregations have changed over my lifetime.
1. Many congregations, like ours, consist of people who are spread out significant distances from the church and from each other.

This is a big one and it affects us too, with a really large dropoff for Sunday evenings. I would like for our church to go to your Sunday model -- have all the services together, with a light meal/snack before the afternoon one, and then no Sunday evening service. (We do this a few times a year, and I really enjoy those times.) The distances (and time) alone of the various commutes are crazy, and I see no reason to maintain the Morning/evening service schedule when it is not necessary. Our Wednesday looks about like yours, even including Kids4Truth, and has even fewer people, but I do enjoy a mid-week get together, and find it much more beneficial than a different time on Sunday.

Dave Barnhart

Ken Woodard's picture

For several years, on the fifth Sunday of the month we had covered dish dinners after the morning worship then a service following so we didn't return for an evening service. When the gas price went way up a few years ago several families really praised not having to drive a second time to church on those Sundays.

We went to always having Sunday School, worship, fellowship dinner then a service about 1 p.m.

When the gas prices dropped below $4 I asked the deacons if they though we should go back to having evening services. It was a resounding "no". The women liked only fixing 2 dishes and sharing the clean up work. The people liked having dinner with each other. I like inviting visitors to stay and have dinner and getting to know them. The budget likes only cooling and heating the building once on Sunday.

One down side is I have to plan in special things to help them overcome the afternoon nap temptation during the message.

Pastor Harold's picture

We are one of a handful of Baptist churches that still have a Wednesday night Bible study in our town. In the past 3-4 months we have had travelers from GA, MS, MO, OK, TN and NC who were staying in a local motels and were looking for a Bible study to attend. Our church is small and on the edge of town, but we listed a midweek Bible study on the website and they came. Maybe we should start passing the plate on Wed too???

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

dcbii wrote:
Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
The dynamics of congregations have changed over my lifetime.
1. Many congregations, like ours, consist of people who are spread out significant distances from the church and from each other.

This is a big one and it affects us too, with a really large dropoff for Sunday evenings. I would like for our church to go to your Sunday model -- have all the services together, with a light meal/snack before the afternoon one, and then no Sunday evening service. (We do this a few times a year, and I really enjoy those times.) The distances (and time) alone of the various commutes are crazy, and I see no reason to maintain the Morning/evening service schedule when it is not necessary. Our Wednesday looks about like yours, even including Kids4Truth, and has even fewer people, but I do enjoy a mid-week get together, and find it much more beneficial than a different time on Sunday.

I forgot to mention that we do have a fellowship meal on the last Sunday of each month in place of the noon service.

Another interesting dynamic is schooling. When I was a child the children and teens of our church attended the Christian school at the church or the public school in town. Now, the children of our church attend different public schools, different Christian schools, and some are home schooled. It get really complictaed trying to schedule things for children because of this.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Ann B. wrote:
Since adulthood I've always gone to traditional church services (three per week). I've been through the "three to thrive" way of thinking. And I'm tired. The best Sundays of all are when we have something like homecoming, then a brief afternoon service, and nothing in the evenings. It's such a delight to go home and know we don't have to get out again. We can really relax and REST that way.

I think there is a silent majority out there that has the same opinion.

For the past 11 years since I have been working a secular job in addition to being engaged in ministry, I realize how incredibly difficult it is for the average person to attend church on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Of course, this is not to mention the difficulty of a pastor preparing that many sermons per week that are worthwhile for his tired people to sacrifice to get to!

I have preached in all kinds of churches, and between that and my work for Dr. Whitcomb, I have seen almost every conceivable plan for church services.

If I had my druthers, in a large enough church, I would have church on Sunday morning (formal worship service and Sunday School), nothing on Sunday evening, and some type of structured service on Wednesday evening -- not an ol' fashion' prayer meetin,' but either a second service or elective classes for adults while the children engage in AWANA or a similar program.

If the church were large enough to warrant it, the only change I would make would be adding multiple services on Sunday morning, or a service on Saturday evening.

As far as adding a Sunday evening service back in, dare I ask the following: Would the Lord really be pleased that we grow further in quantity until we first grow deeper in quality? Are we doing everything we can and should be doing to make the morning service all it should be, sufficient that we should add a second service of a different type?

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Paul J. Scharf ][quote=Ann B. wrote:
If the church were large enough to warrant it, the only change I would make would be adding multiple services on Sunday morning, or a service on Saturday evening.

Why would you avoid a Sunday evening service, but install a service on Saturday evening?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Paul J. Scharf's picture

The Saturday evening service would be identical to the Sunday morning service -- just an additional or multiple service.

Incidentally, this is not a new invention by Seeker Sensitive people, as some think. Lutherans were doing it 100 years ago.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Without discussing the pros and cons of an identical service, why not do it Sunday evening instead of Saturday evening? Is there no meaning attached to the "Lord's Day" in your opinion?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Chip,

Do you think lots of people are going to rush to attend a "multiple service" offering on Sunday night? Unless it is a mega-church, that is doubtful.

Practically speaking, when would my heart and mind be more focused on worship? On Saturday night, when I am planning to relax the entirity of the next day, or on Sunday night, as I prepare for the work week?

Also, Biblically speaking -- I can't make a huge point of this -- but didn't "Sunday" begin at 6 p.m. Saturday evening? Can't we celebrate the beginning of the week then? Just a thought...

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Chip,

1. Do you think lots of people are going to rush to attend a "multiple service" offering on Sunday night? Unless it is a mega-church, that is doubtful.

2. Practically speaking, when would my heart and mind be more focused on worship? On Saturday night, when I am planning to relax the entirity of the next day, or on Sunday night, as I prepare for the work week?

3. Also, Biblically speaking -- I can't make a huge point of this -- but didn't "Sunday" begin at 6 p.m. Saturday evening? Can't we celebrate the beginning of the week then? Just a thought...

Numbers added for clarity/brevity.

1. Not talking about multiple evening services. I understood you to say if you added a service beyond Sunday morning, you would look at Sat. night. Just wondering why you would look at Sat. night for an extra service instead of Sunday night.

2. If you are looking at pragmatic reasons for scheduling, why not schedule Sat morning instead of Sunday morning so people could have the whole weekend to look forward to relaxing with the family. Seems we could make a pragmatic case for anytime time of the week we wanted to discuss.

3. Wondered if you might be thinking this way. In Jewish culture, yes. In Greco-Roman culture, no. In American culture, no.

Don't get me wrong, Paul, I'm just thinking out loud with you a little. I think there are pros and cons to churches having Sun. evening services, and each community must decide what is best for themselves. However, I have been surprised at how many folks are abandoning Sunday worship in favor of a more comfortable Saturday time, which is what I understand in your thoughts (if Sat night and Sunday morn are essentially the same worship service, people are only going to come to one - hence a portion of the church abandoning Sunday worship altogether).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Ed Vasicek's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
The dynamics of congregations have changed over my lifetime.
1. Many congregations, like ours, consist of people who are spread out significant distances from the church and from each other.
2. When I was a child, many of the women did not work. Today, most women have to work.
3. When I was a child, many of the men worked 5 days a week. Most men in my church work 6 days a week now.

Those things to affect church schedules. About 5 or 6 years ago, we changed our schedule because of these things.

I wonder how many church which still have evening services (or Wednesday meetings) have almost entirely elderly folks at them. I am sure there are some churches that have a younger mix and still have these, but in most instances I know, it is only the older bunch who will support them (unless they are there primarily for the kids' ministries).

"The Midrash Detective"

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Not talking about multiple evening services. I understood you to say if you added a service beyond Sunday morning, you would look at Sat. night. Just wondering why you would look at Sat. night for an extra service instead of Sunday night.

Chip,

I follow you -- I meant, How many would come to a Sunday night as an alternate time if it is the same service as Sunday morning? It seems like Saturday night would be a much more helpful time to add an additional service of the same type.

Personally, I would love to attend a church that was big enough to have a Saturday evening service -- then go out and preach myself somewhere else on Sunday morning. Cool

I once myself agreed wholeheartedly with the "three to thrive" concept. However, I have once too often gotten home from morning church trying to "thrive at three" (in the afternoon) -- only to have to turn around and go back for an evening service and meeting to follow. Then, of course, it's up to work on Monday morning...

Thus, I have begun to re-evalute this whole area, and am willing to show lots of grace and latitude -- and would be willing to be very creative were I ever to be in charge of designing a church schedule.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Ron Bean's picture

Is there a Biblical or historic basis for the "three to thrive" admonition?

I have been in circles where ALL churches that didn't have evening or mid-week services were labeled as new evangelical and where the spiritual condition of those who didn't attend all services was questioned.

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

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

what is really sad is watching kids do their homework in the pews on Wednesday nights.

There is nothing IMO preventing a church from implementing service times that best serve their congregation. This could be vastly different from church to church based on local industries, whether it's rural/urban, or even the climate. For instance, should families really risk their lives to come to church when there is 3' of snow on the ground?

I agree that there is Scriptural support for observing a time or worship and fellowship on the first day of the week, but after that I think churches are free to choose what works. I love the idea of meeting on Sunday morning, having lunch together, an afternoon service, and then go home for the rest of the evening.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
Is there a Biblical or historic basis for the "three to thrive" admonition?

I have been in circles where ALL churches that didn't have evening or mid-week services were labeled as new evangelical and where the spiritual condition of those who didn't attend all services was questioned.

No, our service schedules, etc., are attempts to accomplish the Biblical mandates. Sometimes these attempts suit us well for a while and then need to be replaced by more effective ones. The trouble is that we are all SO BUSY these days. The "three to thrive" practice were developed in a different era. Still, it takes time to grow, to fellowship, to experience body life and be fully trained -- and therein lies the quandary.

"The Midrash Detective"

Rev Karl's picture

I seem to remember a very similar discussion about 30-35 years ago when churches started rescheduling their Sunday evening services from 7:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

"The only reason to do that is to allow people to get home earlier to catch the beginning of the most recent mini-series on TV..."

A thought.

Our church has a three part Wednesday program: Children in Awana (sorry, IFB - that's what works in our congregation) at 6:30 - 8:00 PM, Teens in a dedicated Teen Service at 6:30 - 8:00 PM, Adults in Prayer Meeting and Bible study at 7:00 - 8:00 PM. On many Wednesday evenings our youth leader just keeps on going "until the Spirit is done", sometimes to 8:15 or 8:20 PM. Which is all well and good. But some parents of teens (including my dear wife and I) have younger children who need to be home and in bed by 8:30 PM in order to be up and properly functional in school on Thursday. Add travel time home, time "getting ready for bed", etc., and this becomes a problem.

Here's the thought: Sometimes, re-scheduling considerations are not the result of comfort, Spiritual sloth or physical laziness. Sometimes, the scheduling considerations are legitimate.

A Final Observation. Pastor Vasicek ruminated above "I wonder how many church which still have evening services (or Wednesday meetings) have almost entirely elderly folks at them." In our church, it's the elder folk who do NOT attend evening services, due to failing eyesight in the dark, and other physical challenges of growing... more mature. Smile In their case it is absolutely true that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

The Spirit won't lead into sin. If the pastor mandates programs finish at a certain time, the long winded among us lose their excuse for tardiness.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

you could stay up all night! After all, what is more important- church or sleep? 1Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. What happened to the mighty men of old who could fast and pray and watch to the wee hours of the morning? Do you want to snooze your way into Hell, brethren?

OK, that was a joke ya'll... just having a little flashback there...