There is nothing in the Bible that says a church must have an additional service on Sunday evening. Though the Bible does say that the early church met every Sunday (Acts 20:7, I Cor. 16:2), it also seems to indicate that they often met every day (Acts 2:46-47, 5:42, 6:1). I believe the Bible has purposeful ambiguity in its description of how often the church was supposed to meet for church services. The reason for this ambiguity could be that the Lord wanted each church to establish a weekly service schedule that best fit their cultural setting.
In the last century many American Evangelical churches established a four service schedule that included a Sunday School Hour, Sunday Morning Worship Service, Sunday Evening Worship Service, and a Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting. Preachers like Lee Robertson built large churches and powerful Christians under the motto, “Three to Thrive.” They attempted to persuade men and women that coming to church on sunday morning, sunday night and wednesday night would help their spiritual lives to thrive as never before. And though occasionally there were those who came only out of obligation and a sense of spiritual duty there were many more who blossomed in the faith as never before. This method was working!
In recent years many good churches have reformatted their weekly schedules. Though the Sunday morning time slot has remained relatively unchanged this has not been true for the sunday evening and wednesday evening services. Some have changed the midweek prayer meeting into a Bible Study. Some have transformed their midweek service into small groups that meet in various locations and at various times throughout the week just as we have done at SHBC. Further still, some have canceled the midweek service entirely. Sunday evening services are also being retooled by some and dropped by others.
Let me be clear. I don’t think there is anything wrong with not having a midweek service or not having a Sunday night service. But I do believe that it is important to know WHY we have the service schedule that we do have.
The primary purpose of our Sunday Morning Service is to Connect people to God. Though other things occur on sunday morning our main goal in to introduce unbelieving people to Jesus Christ. We call this evangelism. We not only want to connect unbelievers to God through evangelism, we also want to connect believers to God through worship. Everything we do on sunday morning at SHBC ought to uphold these two worthy goals.
The primary purpose of our Small Groups that meet at various times and at various places throughout the week is to Connect people to one another. We call this fellowship. Christians are to live in community with one another. As the church has grown to an average attendance of almost 600 people on Sunday mornings spread over three different service times that intimate, new testament church fellowship is not occurring on Sunday morning as it should. Attending a Small Group provides the Christian with the necessary fellowship that is needed to maintain the Christian life. At Southern Hills we use this in place of traditional Sunday school.
So, with a clearly defined purpose behind our Sunday morning services and our midweek small group meetings, why do we still have a Sunday night service that is completely different in content, tone and purpose? Why am I asking the members of Southern Hills to come back this Sunday night at 6:00pm? Why in the world would we do this?
On Friday Morning – July 5th – I will post the 2nd part to this Blog.
What do you think? Do you see the value in a Sunday evening service? Do you think we should just go because it’s “the right thing to do?” If a church only has one service available for a christian every week, do you believe that is enough to develop mature Christians in our culture?
I’d love your comments below: