Why Do We Meet on Sunday Evening?

Empty church building

I recently read an article about the declining number of churches having a second worship service on Sunday evening (Whatever Happened to Sunday Evening Services?). The article mentioned several possible reasons for the decline – too demanding for busy families, too difficult for “pastors” to prepare two sermons each week, lack of attendance/interest by the members, etc.

Though the article was written from a denominational perspective, the discussion of this trend is also helpful for us in the Lord’s church. Often, God’s people follow the trends of the religious world around them. Even if we ignore current trends of eliminating the Sunday evening service, it is generally true that attendance is lower on Sunday evening than on Sunday morning in the majority of local churches. The reasons why Sunday evening services are in decline among the denominational world are often the same reasons why churches quit meeting on Sunday evening or why Christians simply choose not to attend the evening service. So in this article, I want to briefly discuss seven reasons why we assemble on Sunday evenings.

Is a Congregation Required to Meet on Sunday Evening?

Before discussing the reasons to assemble on Sunday evenings, we must be able to answer the above question. Every congregation of which I have been a member, and the majority of congregations with which I have some familiarity, have two services each Sunday – one in the morning and a second one in the evening. However, there is no command, statement, example, or implication in Scripture that would indicate that a sound church must meet twice on Sunday. Therefore, it is left to each autonomous congregation to decide whether or not it is expedient (1 Corinthians 10:23) for them to meet on Sunday evening. There may be legitimate reasons why a local church chooses not to meet a second time on Sunday (they meet in a rented facility and it would not be feasible to meet twice, members must travel too great of a distance to make a second trip, etc.).

But for those congregations that do meet twice on Sunday, why do they do so? Some may claim that it is nothing more than human tradition. But even if we label the Sunday evening service as “tradition,” that does not mean it is wrong and should be eliminated. Human traditions are condemned only when they violate the word of God (Matthew 15:3-6) or are bound upon others as if they were divine law (Matthew 15:1-2, 7-9). Having a Sunday evening service may have become “traditional,” but there are several good, Scriptural reasons to meet for a second time on the first day of the week.

Reasons to Meet on Sunday Evening

We meet to worship God – Worshiping God is important. Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23). God desires man to worship Him, and He is certainly “worthy to be praised” (Psalm 18:3). The book of Revelation describes the scene around the throne in heaven in which the Lord is continuously praised: “Day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come’” (Revelation 4:8). Therefore, occasions to assemble and worship God here on earth should not be viewed grudgingly, but in anticipation. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). The Sunday evening assembly provides us with another opportunity to worship God.

We meet to encourage our brethren – One of the reasons we assemble is to encourage one another. “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). This encouragement is not to be viewed as an unnecessary luxury, but as a spiritual necessity. After describing the danger of “an evil, unbelieving heart” developing within us, the Hebrew writer showed how we can help prevent this: “But encourage one another…so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13). The Sunday evening assembly provides us with another opportunity to encourage our brethren.

We meet to be encouraged by our brethren – Not only do we need to encourage our brethren, we need the encouragement that our brethren can provide for us. The encouragement provided in the assembly is reciprocal – “encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:25). We should not think too highly of ourselves that we believe we do not need such encouragement. Paul warned: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The Sunday evening assembly provides us with another opportunity to receive encouragement from our brethren.

We meet to study the Scriptures – As local churches follow the pattern revealed in the New Testament (2 Timothy 1:13), they will devote time to teaching the word of God (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 14:26). This teaching is important because it reminds us of what we have already been taught (1 Timothy 4:6) and helps produce spiritual growth (Hebrews 5:12). As Christians, we are expected to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s word (2 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 5:11-14; 2 Timothy 2:15). The Sunday evening assembly provides us with another opportunity to study the Scriptures and come to a better understanding of the word of God.

We meet to offer the Lord’s Supper – Some brethren will balk at this point, believing that the Lord’s Supper may only be offered once on the first day of the week. However, the Scriptures contain no restriction against observing the Lord’s Supper a second time, provided it is still being done in the assembly of the church (1 Corinthians 11:33) on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Some brethren may be unable to assemble on Sunday morning – due to sickness, travel, or other possible reasons. The Sunday evening assembly provides Christians with an opportunity to partake of the Lord’s Supper and fulfill the command, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24).

We meet because it is logistically feasible to meet – Though we only have authority to observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday (Acts 20:7), the other points we have noticed so far – praising God, encouraging one another, and studying the Scriptures – can be done any day of the week. Given how valuable these other activities are, why do we not meet from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week? The reason is because it is simply not possible. We have other God-given responsibilities – such as family obligations (Ephesians 6:4; Titus 2:4-5) and work (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) – that must be met. There are other factors we can consider as well. While we have certain responsibilities outside of the local church, modern methods of transportation have also made it easier to travel great distances in a relatively short period of time. In former generations, it was not realistic to expect people to be able to travel to worship services, return home, and assemble with the church again in the same day. For many today, this is not an issue. We can travel to two services on the first day of the week without much difficulty (provided that we choose to do so). The Sunday evening assembly provides us with an opportunity to take advantage of the blessings of time and technology to meet with our brethren a second time on Sunday to praise God, study His word, and encourage each other.

We meet because the congregation has determined to do so – Christians are expected to be members of a local church. Saul was quick to try and join himself to the church in Jerusalem following his conversion (Acts 9:26). For this local body to function properly, it requires “the proper working of each individual part” (Ephesians 4:16). This is why we are not to forsake the assembly (Hebrews 10:25). When one is a part of a local church, there ought to be an expectation by the other members for him to be present when the congregation assembles (unless some circumstance, such as illness, prevents him from assembling). Not every congregation will meet on Sunday evening. But if one is a member of a congregation that does, he should plan to be there because he is a member of that local body (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:14-20). The Sunday evening assembly provides us with another opportunity to come together, hopefully with the expectation that the other members will be there as well.

Conclusion

One’s absence from a Sunday evening service does not necessarily mean that he is forsaking the assembly (Hebrews 10:25). He could be legitimately hindered from attending. However, if we are a part of a congregation that meets on Sunday evening, we must remember that we have an obligation to assemble when we are able to do so. But more than just an obligation, we need to recognize the great opportunity provided to us in the Sunday evening assembly to worship God, encourage our brethren, and better prepare ourselves for the spiritual challenges we will face in the upcoming week.

Let us remember that value of every assembly and seek to take advantage of every opportunity to come together with our brethren to worship God and study His word.


This article is one of the fifty articles included in the book Plain Bible Teaching: The First Ten Years. Click on the link to read more about the book.


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