It seems like attending Church is becoming less important…
Growing up, I remember three important Church events of the week.
- Sunday School and Sunday morning worship
- Sunday Evening, often evangelistic
- Wednesday Night Bible Study – pure teaching
Today, most are satisfied to take in one service at some point on Sunday morning…
When did attending Church become less important? I may agree that we “go” to Church too much, yet the less we go to Church, the less we are like the Christian experience I grew up in. Has Church become a place of ease and comfort? As churches grow it becomes a place of “herding” one congregation out so the next can take its place as we stack service on top of service. Facilities are not large enough and congregations have grown so huge!
Memories of my younger time revolves around hard wooden pews, no carpet, no sound system, no drums and no A/C! Prayer rooms in the Attic on a summer day can be miserable, but they were often full. Sunday school classrooms were full. No one came to church late, everyone was on time, and no one dreamed of allowing food or drink in the sanctuary. Preaching was often hard, but we sure loved and respected our pastors and did not want to disappoint them. Sunday afternoon lunches, and maybe a friend joined us. Then we all rested quickly (do you remember those Sunday afternoon naps? Funny story at the end of the blog…), changed clothes and went back to church by 6 or 7pm. Songs always came out of the song book and seldom did we sing something that was not in the book. The Bible was King James, yet none of us talked like that old style English and we all felt like Jesus did!
However, I remember Wednesday night always being the toughest of all services.
Most of those days we started around 7:30 p.m. and it was not considered a good night if we got out before 9pm. It was generally no different than Sunday night, except there was seldom a special song, or a choir song. But everything else was the same. We often made it home closer to 10pm than most enjoyed on a school night, but this is definitely something that we all expected.
In fact, Wednesday night Bible study was so respected in the neighborhood that we had nothing to interfere with church. No ball games. No school events. No social interferences. Society respected the normal life of a Christian experience. Take this a step deeper. We grew up in a state that enforced a “Blue Law”. I do not know why it was called “blue” but essentially it meant that stores could not stay open seven days per week. Close on Saturday, or Sunday, but you will give yourself a rest from the driving force of business. Most stores were closed on Sunday. But we knew which one was closed on Saturday… Some Sunday afternoon shopping was always enjoyed at the Globe on the Gulf Freeway.
I have not studied this of late, but as Texas grew in population with “outsiders” then the law was voted down by the time I was in my mid-teens.
Some may say the south is uniquely different than everyone else. Even the TV schedule is different than the West Coast. It has never been fully explained to my satisfaction, but the southern schedule ended the night with a 10 o’clock news. One of the stations, and there were only three (ABC, CBS, NBC), began with this phrase on the screen: “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where you children are?” Even today, when the west coast starts all of its programming later in the evening, the South still stays on the same schedule. Of course, entertainment has changed so much and you can now find over 500 stations to watch whatever you want.
What does this have to do with Church?
Our levels of distraction have changed so much. We have allowed distractions to dictate to us what we expect life to be like. We cannot give up a Wednesday night for the study of God’s Word, but we can use every other night of the week to stay up late and enjoy dinner out, celebrations, entertainment or a home cooked BBQ.
I have pastored for over 20 years now, and I have been in the ministry for way over 30 years. During my years of starting and pastoring two churches I made a decision to not have two services on Sunday. Partly because we existed in rented facilities, and partly because I want our church to experience some quality family time instead of focusing the entire Sunday on church attendance. In fact, I seldom plan anything for Saturday for the same reason.
So, this means Wednesday is an important service. This is where we dig into the Word and learn how to be a Christian. I used this scripture within the past few days, but Jesus said we are to “learn” of Him.
Mat 11:28-30 KJV Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
How do we learn if we do not study? Most do not set aside time to study the Word on their own… They may have a devotion and prayer time, but without intently studying His Word we are inept in living for Him.
So, we must learn together. This is the purpose of Wednesday night…