As many of you know, evening services have begun at Heritage. We want you to know the rationale for this and so have put together the following article. It is our prayer that you will see the importance of a second worship service on a Sunday and make it a part of your walk with the Lord.
It Keeps the Lord’s Day the Lord’s Day
Imagine beginning and closing the Lord’s Day in worship. What a striking thing. Possible the best thing about an evening service is that it allows God’s people who have begin the Lord’s Day together to close the Lord ’s Day worshipping. It mirrors the Old Testament practise of morning and evening sacrifice in Israel. Meeting at the beginning and end brackets the day. While we may have different views about how the ‘Christian Sabbath’ should be observed, we can all agree that they day is meant to be kept Holy- just as the Lord’s Table is different and special, and the Lord’s people are different and special, surely the day God designated as the Lord’s Day should be kept as special.
It is not the ‘Lord’s Hour and a half’ we are talking about, it’s the Lord’s Day. We were created with a need for a Sabbath- a day of rest, recreation and reverence; Jesus reminds us of this in Mark 2:27.
It Sets Apart the Rest of the Day
Having the day bracketed with a morning and evening worship encourages the best use of the time between worship. Knowing that you are going to have to leave home for another time of worship and thus not finish the movie or game, helps to align the heart to the things of God, and put everything else into perspective as less important than worship.
In addition, knowing that you only have about six hours between services allows you to have a nice slot for showing hospitality. Here is a convenient time to invite people to spend time with your family, especially people who travel far to get to church and might not want to travel all the way home and back again later.
It Provides More Chance to Learn
In much of the Reformed tradition the evening service has been considered an integral part of a Christian’s duty. In the evening service the church will typically be preaching through one book of the Bible, the evening service allows a church to give a broader exposure to God’s Word.
Many Christians are biblically illiterate, and probably the higher percentage of that illiteracy will be found among those who attend to worship only once on the Lord’s Day
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you…seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God” (Hosea 4:6).
If church attendance were merely a “good Christian activity” to check off a list, one ninety-minute service a week may do the trick. But it isn’t. It is a time to hear the preached Word of God (which has been laboured over in careful study) to apply it to our lives. One service a week isn’t much to counter the competing influences of the world’s ways that most Christians encounter throughout the week.
The practice of first-century Christians as well as the admonitions of Scripture direct us to more church attendance, not less. The growing hostility of our world toward Christ and Christianity increases our need to gather around God’s Word with God’s people.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
It Provides Another Chance to Worship
An evening service provides not only more time for teaching, it also provides more time to sing. The evening service gives us another chance to encourage and admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs—those great songs of the faith.
It Provides More Opportunity to Serve for More People
The Bible enjoins us to serve one another, service is a sanctifying activity for us to be engaged in, and it characterises those who are the greatest in the Kingdom of God. With only one service each week, there is limited scope for serving the body of Christ. However, the evening service immediately adds more opportunities to serve—we need more people to greet at the door, more people to serve with music, more people to care for the young children, and so on. If there is joy in serving one another, our evening service increases our joy by increasing the ways in which we serve.
Love for our church family is the one sign Jesus said would characterise His disciples; surely love is manifest in wanting to spend more time together. And, frankly, Sunday morning and a mid-week home meeting are not enough. As a pastor I want more time to be with the people I serve, to get to know them, to hear from them. As a church member I want more opportunities to fulfil all those “one another” commands with them and to have the other members fulfil them with me. An evening service is another opportunity to be with people we enjoy so much.
It is Countercultural
An evening service counters our culture’s obsession with convenience and low commitment in matters of religion. It can be difficult to get the family out the door once on a Sunday, not to mention twice. The evening service also counters our Christian culture of expecting little from people and, for that reason, being intimidated to ask much from them. Experience shows that when a church sets the expectation for the evening service, the people rise to it and soon wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
There is a cost to discipleship. One of the most prevalent reasons many churches drop Sunday evening services is due to lack of interest. Too many people, they say, are not interested in the added time commitment of Sunday evening services. To me, this indicates a need for Sunday evening services. Committed disciples have never based their decisions related to spiritual growth on convenience.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).
It is Conducive to Revival
Revival has not come to a country with less emphasis on gathering for the preaching of the Word and prayer. We pray almost every Sunday for conversions. But history doesn’t indicate that it will begin in churches with a Laodicean-like lack of fervour. We cannot except revival and be comfortable with token Christianity. It comes to those who hunger for God and are desperate for His reviving.
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15–17).
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6).
It Takes our Heritage Seriously
Since the Reformation of the sixteenth century, Reformed churches have led the way in emphasizing the necessity for the frequent public preaching of God’s Word. John Calvin exemplified this principle in his own practice of preaching nearly every day of the week, as well as on Sunday. First in Britain and then in the American colonies, the Puritans followed Calvin’s example by preaching twice nearly every Sunday and often at a weeknight service called “the lecture.” This pattern has characterized Reformed churches (and other evangelicals as well) until very recent times.
The preaching of God’s Word, therefore, in both morning and evening worship services on the Lord’s Day, has been regarded as an important part of the Protestant Tradition for a long time. This practice has been regarded as axiomatic for Bible-believing churches and went almost unchallenged for nearly four centuries. We shouldn’t seek to dismiss such a godly heritage out of hand; rather we should stay with the established pattern. It has proven itself.
It Nurtures a Christian Culture
A certain quality of spiritual life develops and thrives around the worship of God twice on the Lord’s Day. Being in church with God’s people twice every Sunday has a wonderfully positive effect, producing a community lifestyle distinguished by its caring, a missionary zeal that reaches out to the whole world, and a sacrificial Christ-like attitude.
This type of church is modelled for us in Acts 2:42–47. Here is a beautiful example of a “normal” Christian church community. Frequent preaching and teaching of God’s Word is obviously the very heart of this early church. Surely churches that develop along these lines can expect God’s blessing for generations to come.