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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

ASK MMI: Anybody Doing Sunday Night Services with Success?

Sundaynight Today's question comes to us from Charles in Stratford, Ontario.  Charles writes:

I pastor a Pentecostal Church.  Our church still has Sunday night services.  (Perhaps you remember them.)

In my area most churches don’t have Sunday services but I still feel the need to continue. I have tried a few things for instance, the standard another service approach, men’s night, ladies night, Family Night, Youth night and all of them have value but none of them can stand on their own.

My question... do you have or know of some other churches that are doing the Sunday night thing with success, if so please put me in touch if you can.

Great question, Charles... does anyone know of any thriving Sunday evening services out there anymore? 


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December 6, 2005 in ASK MMI: Your Ministry Questions Answered | Permalink

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Yes, there are some churhes doing an effective Sunday night service but not many. The key in my opinion is to do something different than Sunday morning. Discipoleship training, small groups, ect...

Our church has never had a Sunday PM service. We are in what used to be a farming comminity and these churches never had Sunday PM services, Sunday afternoon and evening was family time and realxing time as they all worked 6 days a week. We do our youth group on Sunday evenings and we have different actvities from time to time.

Posted by: Pastoe Dan | Dec 6, 2005 9:17:24 AM

Call First Baptist Van Buren Arkansas...Past of the success is powerful preaching and annointed music...ad AWANA to that and voilla...Sunday Night crowds.

Posted by: Bob Williamson | Dec 6, 2005 9:38:00 AM

We continue to have great success with our Sunday pm service. We ask ourselves on a regular basis if it is still meeting a need. So far it is. Some on our staff would love to have Sunday night off but they also see the positive things that happen because of it. A man told me just last week that it is his favorite part of his week.

What makes it successful? Like others have said it has to be different than Sunday morning. Our pastor goes deeper into exposition on Sunday night. We have a long praise time after the message as a response to everything we have taken in throughout the day. And with two morning services our people feel like family in one evening service. After-service meals, parties and activities are great community builders too. We love it but we are by no means married to it forever and ever Amen.

Posted by: Jeff | Dec 6, 2005 10:08:17 AM

Most of the churches I am aware of or am working with have very little success with Sunday night services. We can blame the changes in society and young families that have very little time together because of both parents working and the need to get children ready for school the next day, as well as a dozen other reasons. We could call those reasons lame...but still the same we have to acknowledge them.

Another reason is the relevance of having Sunday evening services. Many people simply see them as a repeat of the morning to some degree and would rather have something mid-week. (Besides prayer meeting)

I think you have to ask why we ever had Sunday night services in the first place. It had a lot to do with the circuit ridding preachers years ago that preached at 2 and 3 churches on the same Sunday. It was a matter of timing and his availability to travel to each church.

I agree with the brother that says, good music, good preaching and dynamic children’s ministry helps. But I have a few success stories that might be considered too.

With most churches averaging 20-30% of their morning attendance at the evening service, I suggested to a few churches to have small groups on Sunday nights. There can be one at the church for those that can’t pull themselves away from the building, but have most in homes. SHave the groups sermon based by going a little deeper into the pastor’s sermon and also asking “personal application” discussion questions. Imagine more them 60% of your morning attendance gathering together and actually applying the truths that the pastor worked hard to present in the morning. Well…that’s the kind of results we are seeing.

Posted by: Andy McAdams | Dec 6, 2005 10:35:50 AM

Although I'm not entirely sad that we don't have Sunday night services anymore, I'm just wondering if they are practical nowadays. To be honest...with 4 services already...there's no way our staff could handle another without dying. I'm just kind of curious as to the basis for a Sunday night service other than tradition. (I'm not saying it is wrong to have one even if there was no scriptural or cultural basis to beging with.)

On a day of rest, it is anything but for church staff and I am hard pressed to find another day off during the week. I believe in my church's personal situation, it is actually more biblically wise to refrain from having one.

Besides...it gives the youth time to have their service...and screw up all my expensive equipment!


Posted by: Matt | Dec 6, 2005 10:38:46 AM

One interesting thing I've seen a women's ministry do in a church is offer sitter services on Saturday night for parents that attend Sunday evening discipleship and new believer classes, trading off "parent time" for them to go out and enjoy dinner and maybe a walk in the park for the time committment to God. They received a "voucher" for each night of attendance and parents that don't attend the class can utilize the service by paying... $6/hr per child or something like that. I neither agree or disagree with the premise but for selfish reasons I like the baby sitter service because it's hard to find someone you can trust to watch the children AND "parent time" is fun for my wife and I.

Much of the money raised from the ministry is used to purchase toys, keep up paperwork for the State for "nurseries" or something like that and other funds used to make care packages for the families in the Church that could use some Thanksgiving and Christmas assistance.

Posted by: BeHim | Dec 6, 2005 11:40:27 AM

A side note on how the sitter service started: The 'mature' ladies in the women's ministry came up with the idea... they didn't find "Ladies Night Out" very appealing or "The Bad Women of the Bible" study so they came up with they're own way of servicing and specifically designed for their generation (probably 50+ or so - Most had grown children) to do and still be of great and valuable service to the growing church.

They usually had between 10 and 15 women (sometimes the single high school and college women would help too) on Saturday night from 3-10p.m. with $20 late fees starting around 10:20 or something like that.

They found it a wonderful way to reach out to the younger families and open doors to "disciple" the "younger" women in the things of God (like the "S" word).

The church I attend worship at now has Awanas class on Sunday and Wednesday evenings that do very good at training Children in Scripture.

Posted by: BeHim | Dec 6, 2005 11:51:01 AM

I'm going to be a bit brutal here - it seems to me that the question of Sunday evening services arises mostly out of some felt need to hold onto what has been done in the past. It's interesting to note that on the "healthy church/unhealthy church" post, one of the signs of an unhealthy church is that they are based on traition.

I don't have a strong opinion about Sunday evening services - except that they should further the purpose of the church; simply stated, that means they should magnify God's name, equip people to serve him, and help to make disciples of all nations. (I know that you could do just about anything "churchy" on Sunday evening and say that it's going to accomplish at least one of those things, but also ask yourself what the REAL reason for the service is - it may very well be simply to preserve tradition.)

Where I do have a fairly strong opinion is that we shouldn't be doing so many programs that our people are spending all their time at church and not in their communities. Church is the house of God; it is a place we come to for spiritual nourishment, rest, relationship ... but it is also a place we go out from to work. After all, Jesus did say GO and make disciples.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Dec 6, 2005 12:31:33 PM

I too pastor a Pentecostal church and have struggled for several years over Sunday night services. At one time we were averaging about 50+% of our Sunday morning attendance and over the past few years we’ve been averaging less than 20% while the Sunday morning services have maintained it’s size. I too have had to ask myself, “why are we really doing Sunday night services if it is simply a repeat of Sunday morning?” Many people who attend the church drive 10+ miles or 20+ minutes to the worship service. They also work 45-50+ hours a week and are simply tired by Sunday evening. Since the year 2000 I have seen most people’s schedules become extremely busy and hectic. We are living in and reaching out to a different culture.

I have tried discipleship, small groups, worship only services, prayer services, traditional services, etc… and nothing at this time has really brought what I would consider a valued return on the resources being used to have Sunday night services. I have found that most of those who do attend on Sunday night do so out of obligation (staff), tradition, habit or it’s the “spiritual” thing to do but very few out of genuine desire to be there. I say genuine because if you are genuinely there to worship God or get deeper into His word it will show in your demeanor and attention.

Jesus was considered, by the religious folks, a radical because He didn’t adhere to the “traditions of men”. If we are going to use God’s resources of money, people and time then it had better be accomplishing its worth and value. I have heard the argument, what if someone wants to get saved on Sunday night and you don’t have church? My response is, what if they want to get saved on Monday night, or Tuesday night or any other night of the week you don’t have services?

We must be careful that we don’t make are “traditions” sacred and judge our level of spirituality by how faithful we are to those “sacred traditions”. Oh there are true sacred traditions that the Apostles gave the church, which were established by Christ’s commands, i.e. water baptism, communion, fellowship, collective worship services, discipleship… and those we must maintain whole heartedly. There is NOTHING in Scriptures that mandates WHEN OR WHERE you have worship services just that you have them. If it is not something that Scriptures mandate then it is not sacred, and to somehow equate whether or not you have Sunday night services as a measure to the level of your spirituality is just plain wrong.

I appears that I am at the point to where I am not going to have Sunday night services. I am sure some who hold traditions sacred and equal to spirituality will cry foul and God love them I pray that they will see the truth. I am not saying that I will never again have Sunday services because at some point in the future it may be the right thing to do to accomplish what God is doing and wants to do but at the current time I believe we need to take a break from it.

Posted by: Charles Jay | Dec 14, 2005 5:26:58 PM

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