24-8 – Pros and Cons of One Sunday Service
Mark A. Dunlap, Taylor, MI — We have two services on Sunday — 10:30 a.m. and 11:20 a.m., and we have a smooth transition between the two. After 22+ years as pastor, I feel that it works well for some; however, pastors must have a feel for their own assembly. I believe that Hebrews 10:25 can be fulfilled in many different ways: Bible studies, cell groups and prayer meetings, along with church services. While we have seen success the past six years, we are talking about having a Sunday evening service at some point going forward. At present, I can say that the majority of our assembly is very happy with our current service times.
Randall Yeoman, Hazel Green, AL — We are a home missions church, just starting into our fourth year and we currently have one service on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. As we grow and the saints mature, there may be a move toward an additional service Sunday night. Having one service opens up other options for the church. For us, it allows us to attend other area churches as a group, and sometimes we gather at members’ homes for fellowship. This allows us to interact with unchurched people. The general mindset is that Sunday is the Lord’s day and while we may not be in the building, we are still assembling together and it’s more enjoyable and beneficial, both physically and spiritually. By committing to one service Sunday morning, I have found the advantage is that there are not nearly as many “clock watchers” in the congregation, which allows for a full service of worship/preaching/prayer. The key, if you have one service, is to not get in a hurry. The most important thing is to know the field that you are ministering in.
Mike Wittmeier, Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada — Each church must weigh the pros and cons for their congregation/community to see if it is beneficial overall. For our congregation at Calvary Church Woodstock it would currently be more detrimental to eliminate a Sunday service. It gives people who attend their traditional church (which only has a morning service) to attend our church and not have to immediately break the ties. While scripture supports faithfulness, I don’t see this as only being related to church services. It can be fulfilled as well in many fellowship/small group/Bible study settings. We do two services because we have seating capacity for our congregation. Our church is familiar with the traditional Pentecostal two-service Sunday. That familiarity allows us to move forward in other areas of (unfamiliar) outreach. However, many members only attend one service.
Rick Perry, New Haven, CT — I believe every church has its own unique DNA, and a pastor must lead the church in a way that is most productive to the growth of that church all the while not leaving Biblical principles and truth. We have only one service and in our local church it is very much enjoyed as we have time in the afternoon and evening to fellowship, have times of training/teaching, invite others to our homes, and reach out to those we are working with by “breaking bread house to house.” I can say in 4½ years we have property we own, over 70 constituents and we’ve only had one service on Sunday from inception and have only had a mid-week meeting for the last year that is for the entire church. So I suppose the answer is that no it has not hindered our church and the advantage is it gives more opportunity to build relationships outside the walls of the local assembly. I further believe it allows the cultivation of building disciple makers.
Bobby Hartgen, Fordyce, AR — Synergy only has one service on Sunday. We ultimately made the decision to go to one service for several reasons. First of all, most of the Synergy congregation drove from out of town. Secondly, I felt from a ministry perspective it would allow us to provide the highest level of ministry in one focused effort. As a bi-vocational pastor, it has been advantageous for me because I can pour all of my energy into that one message. It works for us. Having a Sunday night service, I believe, is a custom that has been adopted. Nothing wrong with having two services, but customs come, customs go, and it’s not a Heaven or hell situation. Biblically, the Apostles went to the house of prayer daily. I strongly encourage day-to-day devotions and prayer. I believe our church has been blessed by building greater opportunities to fellowship with others who do have church on Sunday night.
Stephen Gossage, Southport, IN — Being a North American missionary, there are numerous challenges to performing two services on Sunday, especially in the inception phase. One of which is that we are dealing with new people for the most part, and fellowship and discipleship are just as critical as having a Sunday night service. While I agree in the importance of as much church as humanly possible, we equally impress upon the people that “gathering” in life groups, discipleship classes, outreach endeavors, and ministry training is as important. The “assembling of ourselves together” doesn’t necessarily refer to church services as much as it does “gathering together.” While I agree totally with more worship time together in church services, and if you can do it and not wear yourself out preparing for the execution of it, do it! However, at this point, we choose to have quality above quantity in church services, and focus our energy on building our base going forward.
Kenneth Noles, Panama City, FL — I personally believe that it depends on the makeup of your church congregation and the needs of your area. We have two services on Sunday. I have actually had pastors say that it has been the best thing they have done to move to one service. I personally feel in the location where we are that it is the best option for us to provide two services for the people who attend our congregation. We are able to accommodate a variety of people who may work on Sunday morning and cannot attend a Sunday morning service; it also works the other way on attending a Sunday evening service. By offering two services on Sunday, we are able to open the doors for worship to all who may not be able to make a regularly scheduled Sunday service.
Brian Labat, Addison, IL — Our church is in Chicago Metro, and we have what you would consider one service. However, we have life classes at 11 a.m. and worship service at noon. We typically get out around 2 p.m. We tend to view it as two services back to back. Making the decision to go to one service should be done thoughtfully and prayerfully. Each church, city and circumstance is different and should be taken into careful consideration. While it may not be right in some situations, such as older, established churches or small towns, it may be exactly what is needed in others.
Going to one service has helped us tremendously. It has saved our people time, energy and travel expense, and has allowed us to spend more time with our families on Sunday evenings as well as with church members and new converts. From time to time, during revival, we’ll have a Sunday night service. However, we will never go back to two on a consistent basis. When we leave church on Sunday afternoon, we feel complete and fulfilled and still have time to relax and rest up for Monday.