Last night we were encouraged. The service did not begin until 6:00, but by 5:45 more than one-hundred friends had gathered to worship the Lord Jesus Christ and encourage one another in the faith. Both ancient hymns and new songs were sung. Several passages of scripture were read, and all participated in corporate prayer. There were some tears, some laughter, and there was even some cake following the worship of God. Those who attended had their minds and hearts transformed by God’s Word, and when the service was over, friends remained in the building for almost another hour grooming friendships that had spanned the decades. Yes, last night we were gathered. Last night we were fed. Last night we were convicted. Last night we were encouraged. Last night, we honored our God and thrilled ourselves by enjoying a sweet time of Sunday evening worship.
Therefore, this morning, we better understand the wisdom of the Psalmist:
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. (Psalm 92:1-4)
However, Sunday evening worship is going the way of the dinosaur. Why is this so? In an article entitled, “Seven Reasons for the Death of Sunday Evening Worship,” Jesse Johnson presents the leading causes as to the decline of Sunday evening worship. Here is a short summary of his research:
- In developing a seeker-sensitve philosophy, encouraging worship twice a day seems a bit aggressive and undesirable.
- The value of the preached Word of God has lessened.
- The need for community has increased.
- Pastors find themselves unable or unwilling to construct two excellent sermons.
- With the addition of multiple services, the support staff (nursery, deacons, sound, musicians, etc …) find themselves stretched to thin.
- With the ascendence of mega-churches, people drive farther and father away from home to attend the service of their choice. (Too much of the Lord’s Day is spent on the Lord?)
- People’s lives are so busy, the only time they have for family is on Sunday evening.
Well, along with some other middle-aged pastors, I find myself less impressed with the modern rhythm of the church and more impressed with our elders. Frankly, I find myself lusting for the faith of my fathers. Therefore, I would like to present four reasons to set apart Sunday night to be with God and his family:
- When we peruse the Old Testament, we find them regularly gathering for worship twice on their holy day. While we are not required to follow the Old Covenant Ceremonial Law, we are still wise to find principles from God’s Law to assist us in acceptable New Covenant worship. If it was good for them to worship twice a day under Moses, it seems like it might be even better to worship twice a day under Jesus. (Exodus 29:38-46; Psalm 92:1-4; 134:1; 141:2)
- Then we have the New Covenant example. The church of Jesus Christ is built upon the foundation of Christ and his Apostles. Several times in the New Testament, we find godly men and women gathering for worship on the evening of their holy day. (John 20:19)
- We also have the pattern practiced by our church fathers. While we are not required to worship after the traditions and rituals of men, we ought not discard unnecessarily and throw away the wisdom of the elders. For many years, Sunday evening worship was highly valued by those who safeguarded the sacred faith in Europe and the United States. If their piety is highly valued, then there practice must be studied.
- However, even if we had not the example and pattern of Moses, Paul, Calvin, and Edwards; even if we desired to be contemporary and creative; even if we desired to be religiously pragmatic; I would suggest we might find ourselves inventing a Sunday evening worship service. Why? Because we are a needy people, and corporate worship is a means whereby God grants on-going, sanctifying grace to his people. We need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and an increase of his fruit. We need the grace of encouragement and hope. We need the grace of knowledge and wisdom. We need the grace of conviction and repentance. We need the grace of accountability. We need the grace of friendship and fellowship. We need God’s grace to regenerate our unconverted children, spouses, and neighbors. We need the grace of gladness and joy. And frankly, two hours a week on Sunday morning (Worship and Sunday school) is not enough! We need all the grace we can receive, and Sunday night assists us in joyful worship, relentless evangelism, theological training, and Christian fellowship.
Therefore, in order to be more honorable to God, holy within, heavenly minded, healthy in body, happy in emotions, and held-together by our brothers and sisters, I contend we ought meet with our church family this coming Sunday evening. Perhaps we will meet with all the brothers and sisters in the sanctuary. Perhaps we will meet with some brothers and sisters in houses about town. Perhaps we will meet outside in a public space. And perhaps we sin not if we choose to occasionally skip the stated meetings and sabbath with our own family. But when we do, we should know we have missed the great blessing of worshiping with God’s people on God’s evening and receiving more of God’s grace.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.