I’ve known for some years that the Sunday evening service in Baptist churches has been on the decline. But I read a recent statistic by researcher Thom Rainer stating that only 5 percent of churches have a Sunday evening service. That number startled me.
Personally, I love Sunday evening services, and I know many in our church family do as well. But I believe this service is needful for more reasons than personal tastes. (Not that a personal taste for church would be a bad reason!)
As I considered the 5 percent statistic, contrasted with how the Lord has used the Sunday evening services at Lancaster Baptist Church, I jotted down 10 reasons I believe Sunday evening services are needful. Most of these have strong scriptural support, while a few are matters of practicality.
- People lack knowledge of God’s way. If church attendance were merely a “good Christian activity” to check off a list, one 60-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 labored 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.
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. —1 Timothy 5:17
- People lack knowledge of God’s Word and relationship with its Author. Many Christians are biblically illiterate. And in my observation, the percentage of those who are ignorant of God’s Word is much higher among those who only attend church on Sunday mornings.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee … seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God. —Hosea 4:6
- We are commanded to assemble and to exhort one another “so much the more.” 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 ye see the day approaching. —Hebrews 10:25
- Home study approaches are often less attended than corporate services. Some leaders have looked to meet the needs listed above by having home study cell groups on Sunday evenings. The statistics I’ve read show that long-term home study groups are less attended than scheduled services.