On September 26th, Mt. Rose will resume the practice of having a worship service on Sunday evenings. Since some of you may be new to a church with a Sunday evening service, and since you may wonder if this is a good idea, and since in general the practice of worshiping twice on the Lord’s Day is getting rarer and rarer, I thought it would be helpful to share with you my thoughts on why I believe it’s important and good for our congregation to have a worship service on Sunday evenings.
To be sure, there is no Scripture verse that clearly requires God’s people to worship both Sunday mornings and evenings, or to worship twice on the Lord’s Day. So the question is not one of simple obedience or disobedience to the Word of God. However, both Scripture and the experience of the church testify to the wisdom and benefits of having a Sunday evening service. Though not a biblical mandate, it is nonetheless a good thing to worship morning and evening on the Lord’s Day: “It is good to give thanks to the LORD,… to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night” (Psalm 92:1).
First, an evening service helps us to keep the Lord’s Day holy. In the 4th Commandment, we are to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Since God wills that we set the entirety of the Lord’s Day apart as holy, that is, we rest from our ordinary work and worship God on that day, it is fitting that we begin and conclude the day by meeting for worship.
Speaking from the experience of my own family, having a scheduled evening service has always enabled us to more “naturally” devote the whole day to God. Without an evening service, we struggle with the temptation simply to treat the second half of Sunday as free time to spend as we please.
Of course, this argument will be convincing only insofar as we sincerely desire to devote all of the Lord’s Day to God, and insofar as we truly find blessing in it. We should all pray for grace that we would “call the Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). And if we do delight in the Lord’s Day, we’ll see the Sunday evening service as a blessing and not a burden.
Second, a Sunday evening service helps us further benefit from God’s means of grace. When we worship the Lord together, we hear the Word of God, we pray, and we enjoy fellowship with one another. These are all means by which the Lord grows us in our faith in Christ. So why wouldn’t we want another opportunity on the Lord’s Day to be blessed by God through his means of grace?
Again, we must approach this with the right heart and frame of mind (which only the Holy Spirit can give us). A Sunday evening service is not a good work to earn God’s favor, much less is it an opportunity for us to show how much more pious we are than others. Rather, it is a time for us to be further built up in the knowledge of Christ, and to be strengthened and comforted by his Word and grace. That’s how we should view an evening service – a “bonus” gift from God in addition to the blessing of the morning service on the Lord’s Day.
Third, a Sunday evening service enables us to more fully contribute to the building up of the Body of Christ. A regular evening service provides a natural opportunity to allow a candidate for ministry, such as a pastoral intern, to exercise his gifts by preaching weekly. In this way, Mt. Rose can become a better training ground for future ministers of the gospel.
We live in a culture and society that daily immerses us in values, priorities, and a worldview that are antithetical to biblical truth. The more we conform to the secular spirit of the age, the more implausible and unreal the truths of our faith seem to us. To sustain our faith and hope in Christ, to form our hearts and character in Scriptural truth, we need to regularly meet for worship, prayer, and the ministry of the Word. For those who regularly attend worship both Sunday mornings and evenings, I believe the Lord works though that practice to form strong, believing, and steadfast followers of Christ.
Having said all that, I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that if someone doesn’t attend the Sunday evening service they are somehow less than faithful Christians. I understand there are many reasons why it is simply not realistic for some people to come to worship twice on Sundays. But, because I believe a Sunday worship service is something good for you, I do want to encourage you to make it a habit to come if you can. Even if you can’t come every week, why not commit to coming every other week, or even once a month? I have never met a Christian, and I don’t think I ever will, who has regretted attending worship twice on Sundays. My prayer is that the Lord will use the Sunday evening service to be a great blessing to his people at Mt. Rose.
Soli Deo Gloria!