Sunday night services have fallen on hard times. I can understand why. Attendance is low. It’s tiring for pastors and their families—especially for those who have many children.
People are busy. They feel overworked, overcommitted, tired and stressed. Family time is drained by a million things. (I know, I know — family time is mostly drained by TV & the internet. And it’s not like people who stay home from Sunday night are using that time to sit and have quality conversation & fun with their kids.)
Pastors are also tired. Administration and stresses drain the creativity and energy it takes to draw out Biblical content and present it in fresh, memorable way. Pastors also complain of not enough family time. (TV & internet? Hmm.)
People used to “go to church every time the doors were open.” But that assumption isn’t there any longer, unfortunately even among Christians.
But we still do them at our church. I’ve had people ask me why, even suggest that we cancel it. But I haven’t, and I don’t plan to.
Here are four reasons why we still have Sunday night services:
1. It gives me freedom to focus on non-core people on Sunday AM.
I have two different audiences with two different needs. While you don’t have to “dumb down” the Gospel, or the Bible, preaching to an audience of young Christians & biblically illiterate people does require changes in preaching. You have to think about assumptions, different cultural connection points, different levels of biblical literacy.
2. It gives me a chance to encourage the leadership of the church.
I often talk with pastors frustrated because everyone doesn’t attend on Sunday PM. I’ll be honest…that’s not the end of the world to me.
It’s no secret that those who come to Sunday PM service are the most committed people you’ve got, at least in terms of faithful attendance. Board members, musicians, children’s workers, nursery attendants, and more get up from their Sunday afternoon time and have given years to serving faithfully. What an opportunity to encourage those who make the place run! As a leader, honestly, if I didn’t have Sunday night to do that, I’d have to create a new venue to do it.
Even though they were present for your Sunday morning service, they were probably serving anyway. They gave out. They come into Sunday evening with deflated tires — you are the air compressor. Pump ’em up.
3. It gives me a chance to develop systematic Bible study content.
Preaching is a lot of work. It makes sense to figure out how to make some of your work do double duty.
Sometimes, I’ll develop the material, and teach it Sunday nights. It lets me outline the book, develop the flow of thought and application, locate illustrations, do the background and language studies. Then when I re-preach it on Sunday mornings, I can develop it further, develop graphics, artwork & Powerpoint slides, add another layer of communication smoothness on it.
I don’t feel badly about doing that, and you shouldn’t either, as long as it’s not all the time. I’ve probably only done it with 5-6 series over the years. Your core people will not mind, as long as you are serving them well. They might even enjoy hearing it again, with another layer of polish on it. Learn this from Top 40 Radio & Christmas music: If the song is good, it’s worth playing again.
4. It gives me a chance to cast vision to the core.
When you’re doing church in a way that people are not used to, communication is crucial. John Maxwell was right when he said, “People are down on what they’re not up on.”
I realized the potential value of this when I taught a series on the purpose of the church on Sunday nights early on in my ministry. One of my core people said, after going through a few weeks of inductive study on the purpose of the church, “You know, I am realizing that the church is here for more than just to keep it going and keep the doors open.”
Exactly! From a leadership standpoint, you can’t put a price tag on that. And I realized that this was a chance I had to keep communication lines open with people who needed to hear from me outside of the Sunday AM context… to hear that it was going to be OK. Even though there were people coming that were new, and didn’t hold our values, and didn’t look or talk or smell the same… it was going to be OK!
Crucial for church revitalization.
In my next post, I’m going to talk about ways you can keep Sunday night from being a drag.