Let's Keep Talking About Sunday Nights
What Do We Do?
Never intended as a series, we are still talking about Sunday nights because questions were asked. I have been asked what we do on Sunday nights. I'll expand the answer by also describing what we do on Wednesday nights.
Why We Do What We Do
No one is certain about when brethren first began attending Sunday P.M. and Wednesday P.M. services. What is certain are the motivations behind these meetings.
Two motivations drive Sunday P.M. services. The first is concern for those whose jobs or other life complications prevent them from attending Sunday A.M. services and participating in Communion. The second is the desire to worship more and be encouraged by the brethren more. This second motivation is in perfect harmony with Acts 2:46 - they "continued daily with one accord." Brethren in the first century sought to be near each other on a much more regular basis than we do.
The second of these motivation is the sole motivation for Wednesday gatherings. Brethren often say they are "recharged in the middle of the week." Recharging each other is the subject of Hebrews 3:13 - "exhort one another daily...lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." These same motivations drive our Men's Prayer Breakfasts, Old Guys Eating Lunch on Thursday's, Women's Devotionals, Prime Timers, Brothers Keepers and so forth. Test yourself: do you require or resist opportunities to be with brethren?
In addition to the motivations and reasons listed thus far, some have also argued that these services possess a certain "ought" because of the authority of the elders. A measure of how seriously some take Sunday and Wednesday evening attendance is explain in this reason. Whether elders can create any extra-biblical "ought" is open to question, but providing extra opportunities for worship and genuine fellowship, and encouraging attendance is certainly within the purview of elders' authority.
What We Do
What we do on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings is a reflection of many of the things that the New Testament would have us do. Sunday evenings look a lot like Sunday mornings, with singing and praying (I Cor. 14:15), Bible study (II Pet. 3:18), and an opportunity to take the Lord's Supper. If you see worship and Bible study as drudgery, this does not sound very good to you. Test yourself: do you see worship as drudgery?
Wednesday evenings focus more on Bible study (II Tim. 2:15). From my experience, Wednesday evening adult Bible classes are the richest of the week. There is an old saying that contrasts Sunday A.M. "presence" from Wednesday P.M. "presence": "Sunday A.M. tired; Wednesday P.M. wired." For some reason, everyone is alert and focused on Wednesday evenings.
Why We Don't
Not alone in struggling with Sunday P.M. and Wednesday P.M. attendance (BTW - our Wednesday P.M. attendance is usually strong), the Churches of Christ are afflicted with many of the challenges that also afflict denominational churches. Why do our members not attend? This is a summary of several studies that explain why we don't.
- Modern culture has developed a very negative take on preaching, worship, and everything "church." It is decidedly not cool to seek the comfort of brethren and the comfort of the scriptures.
- Paralleling these negative attitudes is the emphasis on entertainment. Our worship experiences do not compare with the newest, the brightest, the loudest, and the hippest.
- Similarly, the youth culture has widened the chasm between generations. Younger people are automatically turned-off to spending time with folks who are not their age.
- Family time is at a premium now - just as it has always been (by the way - young families: it only gets worse). Now, however, some have decided that the only possible time for family time is when the brethren are meeting for worship and study.
- Frankly, "my life" is at the core of a lot of resistance to Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings. But "If you find your life, you will lose it" (Mt. 16:25).