Why Do We Have a Sunday Night Service?2
This post is part 3 of a 4 part series on why you should consider attending more than one church service each week. Part 1 offered five foundational reasons we should be as involved in the life of the church as possible. Pastor Kris followed with part 2, which detailed why we offer Sunday school and how you can benefit by attending. This post will share why Life Point holds a Sunday evening service, how it is unique from our other services, and why you should consider attending. If you already attend, I hope this post will help you do so more meaningfully, and if you do not consistently attend, I hope it will challenge you to consider if God would have you make the Sunday nights part of your weekly routine.
I must begin by acknowledging the elephant in the room, which is that coming back on Sunday nights is not easy. Some people simply can’t drive safely after dark or they have other limitations. And life is busy for most people. We go hard 6 or even 7 days a week. And when you are finally able to relax Sunday afternoons, the last thing you naturally want to do is pull the family together and go back out for church. Sunday nights also tend to be a frantic time of preparation for the upcoming week. Students hurry to finish assignments, and adults prepare for early mornings and hectic schedules. There’s a cost to coming back for the evening service, but there is also great value. Specifically our Sunday evening service has 3 unique characteristics that give it distinct purpose and value compared to our other services.
- Sunday night is a members meeting.
I don’t mean by this that nonmembers are not welcome because they are very welcome. However, we assume that most Sunday evening attenders are committed members, and we gear the service toward ministering to them and involving them in the life of the church.
At Life Point our primary worship service is Sunday morning, but we don’t even try to provide a full experience of the church in this one service. Sunday morning is focused on singing, prayer, and expositional preaching. We do this because we believe these are the primary elements of worship and because in our culture Sunday morning is the most likely service unbelievers or fringe participants in the church will attend. These people (and all of us) need to hear from God and be confronted with the gospel and the foundational truths of Scripture. Therefore, we don’t congest Sunday mornings with lots of practical business and announcements, and there are many vital matters of church life that we don’t have time to address or that would be unwise to address. As a result, our evening service is a vital complement to Sunday mornings for members of our church.
For example, we observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday nights 8 months of the year. We do it this way because God warned that it is potentially dangerous for an unbeliever or disobedient Christian to participate in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:27–30). We want to protect them and protect the Lord’s Supper by guarding the elements. It’s much easier to do this on Sunday nights in a context primarily of members.
We also use Sunday nights to address various matters of church business that aren’t appropriate to address on Sunday mornings. We discuss finances and vision, we conduct business meetings, and we give updates on more personal matters of church discipline or on spiritual and physical needs. These matters are all very important to our life as a church, but not everyone needs to know about them. We deal with them on Sunday nights because we view this service as a meeting mostly of members who are committed to each other, committed to the church, and invested in our mission. You are going to have a very hard time staying in the loop at Life Point if you don’t attend on Sunday nights.
Because we talk more specifically about these matters on Sunday nights, our Sunday night prayer time is a vital complement to Sunday morning prayers. Our Sunday morning prayers are focused on worshipping God and asking him to meet with us. On Sunday nights we pray more specifically for people’s burdens, for ministry opportunities, and for the needs of Life Point. This time is an important aspect of our corporate prayer life, and it is a wonderful opportunity for us to seek the Lord together for our personal burdens for the blessing of God on Life Point.
- Sunday night is our family service.
First, the Sunday evening service is literally a family service, in the sense that all children 4 and older sit through the entire service. I’m guessing this keeps some families away. They figure that they won’t get anything from the service because their children will be a constant distraction, so why come? I have a 4 year old with lots of energy, so I know this is challenging, but there is great value for a child in progressively learning how to sit through a service and pay attention. It also sends a message that he or she is part of the church. If your child only knows children’s ministry until he or she is 12 years old, he or she will likely struggle to connect with the entire body and to mentally engage with adult teaching. Don’t lose sight of how your child can benefit from participating in the evening service.
Second, the evening service is a family service in the sense that it is an important context for building community. We typically give you the opportunity to share prayer requests, and we take these burdens before the Lord together. We also invite feedback and questions during the teaching/preaching time. This gives you an opportunity to contribute to the instruction and to benefit from the insights of others. And finally, the smaller crowd and slower pace of Sunday nights provides a great context for fellowship before and after the evening service. I would go so far as to say that the most significant fellowship time at Life Point is the time after the evening service. It’s a smaller group of committed members, and a lot of valuable conversation takes place during this time. Therefore, if you want to build significant relationships at Life Point, the simplest way to do so is to come on Sunday nights and stick around afterwards.
- Sunday night is a time for graduate level instruction and application.
At Life Point, the Sunday morning expositional sermon is the central piece of our discipleship. We dig deeply into the text of Scripture and we apply it to life. We want to see you grow in your understanding of God, the gospel, and God’s will, and we want you to learn by example how to dig into the text for yourself. But the Scriptures raise all sorts of theological and practical issues that require longer treatments than we can possibly give on Sunday mornings.
Therefore we use Sunday nights to address important theological and practical matters that are essential for our understanding God’s Word and will. A Christian needs to understand systematic and historical theology. He needs to know how to answer common objections to Christianity, and he needs to know how to apply Scripture to ethical dilemmas and basic issues of obedience. Sunday nights provide a great context to address these things. Again, the Sunday morning exposition is the foundation of our diet, but one 45-minute sermon a week cannot provide a full course meal. The Sunday school and Sunday evening services provide a vital complement to Sunday morning. If you want to be pushed theologically and practically, come on Sunday nights.
A Final Benefit
I’d like to add a final benefit of attending Sunday nights, which is that attending the evening service keeps the Lord’s Day the Lord’s Day. God no longer requires us to observe the Sabbath (Col 1:16). However, during the creation week, long before God gave the Law, he established the principle of setting aside a day for rest and for the Lord; therefore, we shouldn’t assume that the Sabbath principal no longer has significance. As well, John calls Sunday “the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10; cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). In light of John’s OT frame of reference, we can assume that he saw Sunday as a sacred day that is to be set apart for God, rest, and spiritual meditation.
This doesn’t means we can’t do any work on Sundays. Most early believers were Gentile slaves, and they probably worked long days on Sundays. This is probably why the first mention of Sunday worship in the NT (Acts 20:7) describes a Sunday evening service that went until midnight. But the fact that John considered Sunday to be the “Lord’s Day” indicates that as much as possible Sunday should be dedicated to the Lord.
Of course, this fact alone does not mean that Christians are required go to a Sunday night service, but coming on Sunday nights is a great way to keep a spiritual focus throughout the day. Maybe it’s just me, but I know that when I don’t go to an evening service, I rarely replace it with spiritual meditation. Rather, Sunday afternoon and evening become a time to watch sports or catch up on projects, and the Lord is quickly pushed out of my thoughts. If church is just a piece of your Sunday schedule rather than the central item, then I’d challenge you to consider if you are really making Sunday what God intended it to be. If you really want to make it the Lord’s Day, come on Sunday nights and put spiritual bookends on the day.
I recognize that for some people, circumstances make coming on Sunday nights impossible or unwise. I also recognize that if you are not in the habit of coming on Sunday nights, establishing the habit will be a big change. But if you can make it happen, I’d challenge you to just determine to make it happen for a couple of months and see what God does. I think you will find that the effort is worth the benefit to your soul.