by James Rasbeary
There are two types of tradition mentioned in the New Testament:
- Traditions that keep men from the truth of God’s Word. These traditions are to be avoided (Gal. 1:14; Matthew 15:3; etc).
- Traditions that keep men in the truth of God’s Word. These traditions are to be advanced (2 Thess 2:15; 3:6).
Times, they are a-changing – but not necessarily for the better.
In recent years, we have seen our Baptist churches break away from their traditional service times. This is simply a statement of fact. Many churches no longer have evening services at all; some now have a “buffet style” of worship service formats (traditional at 5 am for the older folks & their money, blended at 10 for the middle-of-the-roaders, and contemporary/”mainstream” at 11 for the rest) in the morning, but no evening services. Others went to a Saturday evening service – not in addition to Sunday morning, but as a substitute for it.
This is not the point of this brief article, but I will say in passing that the Bible teaches us that in the last days, when the love of many is waxing cold, we should endeavor to have a“so much the more” attitude toward serving God in the church assembly (see Hebrews 10:25). The fact is that the churches that cancelled their evening services did not do so out of a Bible conviction that they were unwarranted – but because of a lack of interest, beginning with the pastor. And I would hate to pastor a church that was totally satisfied with one worship and preaching service a week. Give me folks with a “so much the more,” not a so much the less, mentality – even if we are called “legalists” by the lukewarm and ignorant (a legalist is someone who teaches salvation by works instead of salvation 100% by the grace of God).
Others, including friends of mine, are now adopting a Sunday afternoon service, following the morning service and a meal. The primary reasons that I hear for this change are 1) family time and 2) convenience for various families who drive long distances. Now, I am not passing judgment, criticizing, or complaining about their decisions. Nor do I break fellowship over it. I also understand their reasoning and recognize that it may be the best for some. However, in this day of the Internet, no man lives on an island, and ideas get around to other churches, and pastors have to give an answer for why we do things the way that we do. I have also discussed it with friends in the ministry and with young preachers in my church. These discussions led to this article.
Allow me to give some reasons – without seeking to be offensive or argumentative to my friends – concerning why we at LBC have and will continue to have Sunday evening services:
- The first church service after the resurrection of Christ was a Sunday evening service (Jn 20:19). Unfortunately, Thomas was not there.
- In my Christian life, the Sunday night service was always THE big service of my week. There was nothing better for me than going to the Sunday evening service and hearing Dr. Bob Smith preach the paint off the walls. I dare say that most of the great decisions of my life were made in a Sunday evening service.
- SAINT – Sunday Afternoon Is Nap Time – and from what I hear, that’s what a Sunday afternoon service most resembles – nap time. After all, if you come to Sunday School and eat a donut, and then go to church or serve in a ministry, and then eat a big lunch, what do you expect on Sunday afternoon? I expect sleepy people in the pews and a preacher trying not to burp in the pulpit. From what I hear, it is not and probably is not going to be the most exciting service of the week.
- Church is not a convenience store. “Duty” was the watchword of the last generation. “Convenience” is the watchword of today. Serving God is cross bearing, not convenience. We have bent over backwards trying to make God convenient for His people. We have now perhaps the most spoiled generation of Christians in history.
- Sunday evening gives Sunday job workers an opportunity to attend church. One of our men, a policeman, had to work every Sunday morning. He told me, “If we didn’t have evening services, I wouldn’t get to attend church.”
- Sunday afternoon services and bus ministries do not usually go together (there may be exceptions).
- Sunday evening services allow us to have pre- and post-service opportunities for service, growth and fellowship.
- Sunday evening and mid-week services reveal those in the church who are best suited for leadership.
- Sunday evening causes us to give the whole day to the Lord.
- What about family time? Well, what about God’s time? If God can take Sunday afternoon, why can’t my family? If God should be content with Saturday night, why shouldn’t my kids be content with Saturday night? My family has never lacked family time because of a Sunday evening service. Make time on Saturdays, Mondays, Fridays, Sunday afternoon. Go to church together. Sit together Sunday evening and sing together (we always encourage families to sit together in church). Why is God always the one that is supposed to be the most flexible?
- What about rest time? Isn’t Sunday supposed to be a day of rest? Well, where is that in the Bible? The Bible’s “day of rest” was Saturday. By all means, take it off, or some other day if that suits your schedule. The rest Jesus invites us to involves a yoke of service (Mt 11:28-30).
- Most, if not all, of the great soul-winning, separated Baptist churches today that are seeing people saved, baptized, grounded and growing – as well as seeing men and women and young people surrendering and being trained for the ministry, have vibrant Sunday evening services with red-hot Bible preaching. There may be exceptions. But the churches that I am aware of are continuing on in their traditional service times.
The purpose of this article is not to try to answer any and all objections but simply to give my reasoning for why Lighthouse Baptist Church will continue having a 6:30 pm evening service every Sunday until the Lord comes back. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Thank you for reading. God bless.
by James Rasbeary