Yesterday I posted another article on Sunday evening worship which included previous posts on reasons for the death and resurrection of this long-standing hallmark within our churches. Therefore, after long reflection and thought I wanted to give my thoughts on this topic.
I grew up in a family that faithfully attended Sunday morning worship and yet I did not have a good understanding of a Biblical view of the church. We just simply went to church because that is what you did as a Christian and I never really searched Scripture or was taught what church really is to the Christian. We sang songs, listened to preaching, passed the offering plate, sometimes attended youth group or Wednesday night if it didn’t conflict with sports but that was the entirety of what the church was. It wasn’t family, it wasn’t home, it wasn’t a refuge to drink from the living water.
Although it laid a good foundation, I never really understood what church is.
I know many pastor’s kids that spent every waking hour at church and yet it still wasn’t home, wasn’t a refuge, wasn’t family to them. It was an obligation without any understanding that Jesus is the church. He stated to Paul on the road to Emmaus, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Jesus identifies Himself with the church, His bride is the church, He died for the church, and He lives and rules in the church. Should there be any other place the Christian should want to be?
But growing up in churches with no true church membership (other than equating church membership with getting some tithing envelopes), I did not know what a Biblical church looks like.
Ironically it was not until I went for years to an unbiblical church that I really understand what a Biblical church is. We attended a seeker-sensistive church that spoke about the latest movies or “how to be a better …” from a stage over proclaiming God’s Word, had a Saturday night service so the people can get it over with, gave you jobs and called it serving, gave an insufficient and watered down gospel every week, and had a rock concert instead of Biblically-informed worship. On one hand, it was the worst seven years of my church-life; but on the other hand, I see God’s providence in that it drove me to the Scriptures to see what a real Biblical church looks like and what a real pastor and congregation looks like.
A church that sees its doors as an entry point for unbelievers is a church that fills its seats with unregenerated people. Church is for the saints. And if an unbeliever gets invited or walks in the doors, they better hear a clear and sufficient gospel because we as Christians are saved by faith and walk by faith in Christ through the proclamation of His Word.
Through the seeker-sensitive explosion and years of the world affecting the church, congregations have taken the pragmatic view of “we just won’t get enough people to come back for Sunday evening.” Why? That time is for family…which is an excuse for watching sports (and I love sports), mowing the lawn (alright, I don’t really love mowing my lawn), and getting rested for the week before us (I do love just sitting down recharging my batteries).
But what is really being said is – #1 we need a huge group of people in order for something to be successful and #2 we have better things to do than to worship the Lord.
A Sunday evening service is countercultural. It is about family – the family in Christ, it is about getting ready for the week – the week of battle in the Christian life, it is about getting rest before the week before us – knowing that our rest comes in Christ. That is what I love about Sunday evening the most – it is so totally against our culture and everything our culture proclaims. It simply proclaims the message of foolishness to those around us that we love Christ more than anything. We want to hear more of His Word, we want to sing more Biblically-informed worship, we want to be with the other saints, we want to be home with Christ.
My best friend stated:
I love ours. It is more of a relaxed bible study. It also is more intimate because fewer people are there. One of the greatest benefits of corporate worship (to me) is giving us more time with the people we love. A Sunday Evening service does just that and strengthens the bond between the spiritual family. I would say also, a mid-week service serves the same purpose and praying with others in my church and having my young children pray with others in our church (many times who are 70 years older than them) gives great opportunity for the body of Christ (which includes those seniors and spans to my children) to be strengthened.
Sunday Evening worship may not broaden your church attendance, it may not put you on the map of popular churches, it may not even seem like it will “work”…what Sunday Evening worship does is deepen and strengthen the church body giving a greater opportunity to know each other more intimately while growing in the Word of God together. A picture of God’s church.