I guess we might be somewhat unusual as a church. We put a fair degree of emphasis on the goodness of meeting twice on a Sunday. We actually run three services a day – two in the morning, 9.15, 11.15 (same service), and then an evening service at 6pm. And we encourage our folk, where possible, to come to a morning service and the evening service. I know lots of churches have dropped the evening service, and I’m also aware that lots of new church plants are going for just one – often a 4pm service. And I’m really really not criticising that at all. But here’s ten reasons why I’ve come to think that having a couple of services a day might be a good thing.
- One more opportunity to pray, praise, feast and fellowship. We put a fair emphasis on teaching – this gives us another opportunity to serve up some spiritual food. We often work through a book of the Bible in the morning, and then we may do something more topical or creative in the evening. By having two services we can have the best of both worlds.
- Shift workers – a fair number of our folk work shifts or have other commitments which might mean, if we only had one service, they wouldn’t make church at all on a Sunday. For some their shift patterns may mean they make church only once or twice a month, which would be a shame right?
- Parents of young children. Let’s be honest – having a baby or toddler with you at church tends to mean you struggle to engage with every aspect fully. So we suggest to our young parents they take it in turns for the evening. One parent puts kids to bed and the other can come out and have a bit of space/time out/adult conversation etc. Next week they can swap. Obviously once kids get a bit older everyone can come out. But it’d be quite easy to lose a decade of church engagement through temper-tantrums, emergency toilet trips, tummy bugs etc etc.
- Singles. This one may sound a bit controversial, but from some of the singles I’ve spoken with Sunday’s can be a long day – especially if they don’t have specific plans or a lunch invite. An evening service means that those who might otherwise feel isolated have somewhere to go, and some people to see. With the above categories (shift worker, parents, singles) it’d be pretty rough if the rest of us sacked off Sunday evening and left them to it. That wouldn’t be all that edifying, encouraging, or loving to them. So its really important that we all make the effort – to serve others by our presence, as well as getting good stuff out ourselves.
- Evangelism. Some folk may have other commitments in the day-time – Sunday sports, family gatherings etc. An evening service gives you another opportunity to invite people along to something.
- Hospitality. I think there are a couple of quite different opportunities for hospitality on a Sunday. Lunch is one obvious way. But if you don’t have the space or skills for that could you do something post-evening service – get a group of people round for tea and toast, or go for a drink/coffee/McDonalds (depending on how you feel about ‘sabbath observance’ – let’s not get into that here and now!). ‘Hospitality’ can, I think, take many forms. And an evening gives you a different opportunity.
- Training. Think of the opportunity to raise the next generation to love church, the Bible, worship, and family. And think of all the good you’ll be doing them by teaching them to spend time with others. I know this isn’t the primary purpose of church, but, anecdotally, the teens I know who have done this for the last decade or so are some of the most rounded and socially able young adults I know. It’s not nothing!
- Habits. For those familiar with Jamie Smith’s work I’ll just leave this here.
- Theology – the early church started meeting on the first day of the week as it was resurrection day. It is an opportunity to spend a whole day anticipating resurrection/new creation and doing those sorts of things – praising, enjoying, feasting, listening etc. I know the early church couldn’t do this as most of the people were working – but, if you had the opportunity to give a full day to some new-creation anticipation that would seem a good thing, no?
- What else would you be doing? Ok, that’s mischievous – I know lots of people have worthwhile and/or necessary things to be doing. But I also suspect a lot of us might answer the question with, ‘I could be watching Top Gear.’ Is that a better use of your time, or could you get it on iPlayer?
So there’s ten reasons that you (or your church) may wish to value a ‘twice on Sunday’ model of meeting. What else might you add? If you’re unpersuaded then comment below – let’s keep the conversation going.