Sunday night and Wednesday night

When our family arrived in Georgetown fourteen years ago this month, I had no idea that I was entering a totally different cultural setting.  Having pastored for ten years in South Texas, I knew that culture pretty well.  The balance of my years prior to Georgetown were spent in the Abilene and Brownwood regions including as far south as Mason and as far north as Baird.  I was largely unacquainted with metropolitan churches other than an occasional invitation to lead in evangelism training or preach a series of services.  In one of my first pastor’s meetings in Georgetown, I was amazed to discover that most of the pastors wanted to get rid of Sunday night and Wednesday night speaking responsibilities.  What really brought this into focus was a visit by Richard Jackson.  Richard had just retired from pastoring North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona.  He was invited to speak at a rally at Crestview and then meet with pastors at a conference the next day.  One of the first questions he was asked was what to do about Sunday night.  The implied sentiment was that it ought to be discarded or at least adjusted.  Richard Jackson was a football star at Howard Payne in his youth and has a “take no prisoners” style of speaking.  He turned the question around and asked, “Tell me about your attitude toward Sunday night?  Do you bring enthusiasm to the task?  Do you prepare?  Do you expect God to do something?”  I was elated at his challenge.  To me that is the real issue.  I delight in the variety of emphases that Sunday night affords.  I delight in the opportunity to see people enter the fellowship of the church as they did last Sunday night.  I delight in Sunday night baptisms.  I delight in special events.  By keeping the doors open on Sunday night, you create a climate for churchwide events so that when you have a special program you already have a base of people for whom Sunday night is a regular experience.  Wednesday night is also an additional opportunity for people with particularly challenging schedules.  In addition to sharing information for ministry and prayer purposes, there are outreach realities afforded on Wednesday to people we will almost never see on Sunday.  This is especially true in youth and children’s work.  It is also true in our ESL programs.  Last night I had a wonderful visit with a guest who is searching for a church home.  Wednesday night allows such conversations.  A number of Wednesday night services have seen professions of faith and baptisms.  One family in our church worked on Sunday several years back.  They became faithful attenders on Wednesday.  They were baptised on Wednesday night.  What if we could not have offered them that avenue of fellowship?  Small groups are very useful, and I welcome their creation.  I see them as complimentary to everything we do.  However, in my view the corporate experiences of the church afford the best opportunity for people to make commitments not just to a few peers, but to the Body of Christ.  I am aware of several strong churches who have shut down their Sunday night worship and replaced them with small group opportunities.  If I were in such a setting, I believe I would allow the small groups to meet concurrent with an evening service, but offer an evening service for the sake of those who may sense a need for that additional opportunity for worship.  I would not see this as competing, but rather complimenting components.  Best of all it would allow that person with no awareness an opportunity to walk in on a Sunday night without any previous information as to the location of groups and find the people of God at worship and in the Word.  To those pastor’s who complain that it requires too much study time on their part, I can only listen in bewilderment and reply, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”  (1 Corinthians 9:16)

Dan Wooldridge

1 thought on “Sunday night and Wednesday night

  1. Great word. Thanks! We’ve done both evening worship and on-campus small groups, but never concurrently. I have been thinking of offering both this fall. Thanks for the encouragement.

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