I was reading Thom Rainer’s blog post on the decline of the Sunday evening service in American churches. Many churches do not have Sunday evening services or have dropped the service from their schedule. Other churches have a Sunday evening service, of some type, but attendance is very low and in decline.
I believe that the inclusion of a Sunday evening service, or not, is entirely under the authority of the local church in their efforts to do what they feel is best for the spiritual health of the particular congregation. And I also think that the congregation should submit to whatever the church feels is spiritually best for them whether that is have a Sunday evening service or not.
I am amazed though, as I read the comments to the blog, of how comfortable people are with the absence of a Sunday evening service or less church altogether. The excuses range from business, tiredness, family time, small groups, ect. I am afraid the problem is “Whateverism.” I don’t think there is the commitment to the local church and to the body of believers that there should be. I think that many look at the church and think, “Whatever.” Church is not deemed to be important.
In the early church in Acts, the church meet daily. They must have felt a need to gather together, encourage one another, pray, fellowship, and feed on the Word of God on a daily basis. Yet today we think less of that is better. Do we really feel that we are better off or a brother and sister are better off, spiritually, with less?
I often hear the excuses of business and tiredness and other things to attend to. But the very same people are at volleyball, baseball, football, or soccer games several times during the week without one single complaint. In fact, they are not looking for less, they are hoping the team does so well they go to the playoffs for more games. And most of the children have perfect attendance to practice and games while parents sit in the hot sun for hours and complain about giving another hour to church. No mention of those things cutting in to family time or rest time.
I think the reason church services are in decline is that we just do not have a proper Biblical understanding of the New Testament church. We don’t consider our own spiritual needs nor do we consider the spiritual needs of others whom we are to encourage and exhort. We are to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together but we are to be gathering to encourage one another more as we see his return coming.
It really does not take much to get us to ditch a church service. Legal papers to sign, oh well, sorry church. Family comes in town, oh well, sorry church. someone needs help, oh well, sorry church. A little more work to do, oh well, sorry church. There is just no commitment to the church or those in the church. We even make idols out of mothers as we miss church because we are so tired from honoring our mothers. Some churches that normally have Sunday evening services canceled their evening service because of Mother’s Day.
We can come up with a thousand reasons for the decline in Sunday evening worship services but the main reason is that most just see no reason for it and have no desire to go. They do not feel it necessary for their own good nor the good of their brother and sister in church. They look at church and say, “whatever.” Church is not important!
The problem, as I see it, is that we are so busy serving ourselves that we have little time and little strength to serve anyone else. However, serving others is exactly what we are to be doing with our lives. And where better to serve others than in the local church. Our culture is eventually going to squeeze church out all together. And those who do not understand church will comply with the wishes of culture. People will do exactly what they want to do but I just can’t see myself, honestly saying, that I need less of church—less preaching, less Bible, less fellowship, less singing, less serving. I am too leaky to need less. In fact, I feel I need more. But that’s just me.