Bennetts Baptist Church

 

 

 

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Bennetts End Reformed Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead | The Holy Bible and The TV Guide
Bennetts Baptist Church
 

 

Twice on Sundays

Iain D. Campbell

In most of our local churches it is a given that there will be a service of evening worship on the Lord’s Day. Not only so, but it is usually the case that the evening service is better attended than the morning. For many non-Gaelic speaking worshippers, the introduction of a morning service which they can attend is a thing of comparatively recent origin.

Neither of these phenomena should be taken for granted. In most places I know outside of Lewis, very few people attend evening worship – in many cases, far fewer than communicant membership rolls might suggest, and in most, far less than the number who are present in the morning.

The increase in the number of people at an evening service of worship on the island is probably related to the fact that traditionally the evening sermon was evangelistic, aimed at the unconverted, and therefore deliberately targeting a much wider audience than the didactic sermon in the morning.

The effect was that two generations of post-war adherents in many Lewis congregations got the distinct impression that the morning sermon was not for them – to the church’s shame – and therefore attended en masse the evening service – to their own credit. The language aspect was probably not insignificant; if there was an English service at all in our rural congregations it would have been in the evening.

The trend still continues. Certainly in our own local congregation, the greater number attends in the evening. Why that should be I am not sure; I will certainly not discourage that, but I will want to encourage attendance in the morning too. There is no need for anyone to remain at home to make the dinner.

But the other issue is equally significant. In many places, evening worship has dropped off the radar altogether. Professedly evangelical churches will advertise only a morning service; some may advertise two morning services, a ‘traditional’ one and a ‘contemporary’ one. Many Christians, it seems, are content to be in church once on Sunday.

I suspect that in a lot of cases, particularly in the context of American evangelicalism, many have simply capitulated to the pressures of a secular society, for whom Sunday is the day of sports and of big league tournaments. The earlier worship is the better, so that people can then get on with the rest of the day, and take their kids to the places all other kids go. Evening worship is dropped out of necessity: families have better things to be doing on their day off.

That, at least, is one advantage of Sunday policies in local government. There may be many arguments for opening sports facilities on Sundays, but we are mistaken if we think that it will end there. The pressure would soon be on to run competitive sports events on the Lord’s Day, and it takes brave parents to buck these particular trends.

But a more subtle form of argument is also appearing. Is there a biblical rationale for Sunday evening worship? I have heard Christians argue that once on Sunday is sufficient. Is it not a form of legalism to demand more?

My instinctive response to such foolish talk is to ask – what is the advantage to cutting out a service of worship on the Lord’s Day? What do Christians gain by staying at home to watch television, or by going out to dinner instead of being in church on a Sabbath evening? When God has legitimized a whole day to be an expression of devotion to him, and a means of blessing from him, what do we gain by not taking advantage of the day in its totality?

In ancient Israel, two lambs were to be offered to God each day, one in the morning and one in the evening. That was the daily routine, and it is reinforced in such psalms as Psalm 141, where David prayed that the lifting up of his hands would be ‘as the evening sacrifice’. There was no question of sparing the evening lamb.

Significantly too, when the Sabbath day was changed from the seventh to the first day of the week, it was actually in the evening that Christ appeared to his disciples, on two successive occasions. Weekly gatherings were a given, and Sunday evening blessings were experienced.

Ultimately, the issue is not so much about our views of church, but about our views of Christ. He commands us in Scripture not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. He promises to be present in the assembly of his people, where as few as two gather in his name. He promises to enrich his people through his Word and by his Spirit.

If that is the case, then we ought to put a premium on such occasions. While contemporary culture squeezes religion out, by putting pressure on families and on children to be involved in many different activities on the Lord’s Day, there ought, surely, to be something non-negotiable about gathering for worship with the people of God week by week.

Sinclair Ferguson is reputed to have said at a recent conference, in response to the very question about why evening worship is necessary on the Lord’s Day, that if an attractive girl asked a boy to meet her at a particular hour, he would be there. The Bible offers us something better than that: the one who is the chief among ten thousand asks poor sinners to meet him at a particular hour, as he promises to be present in the gathered assembly of his people.

It is a foolish person who passes up a golden opportunity to meet with the risen Lord. Which is why I shall shout loud that Christians should worship together twice on Sundays. At the very least.

 

 
 
     

 

 

 

 

Welcome             Church Services and Times              Contact us          Map        

Sermon Recordings          What is a Christian           Our History           Reformer's Online Library           1689 Confession            TULIP

                 The Word of God           Worthy Hymns             Good Book Guide             CH Spurgeon'S Daily Readings  

    SITE Search            Young People’s Gospel Meetings          Catechism          R. Chaplin