My whole life I’ve gone to church Sunday morning and Sunday evening.
My parents took us to church and Sunday school on Sunday morning, and they always took us back on Sunday evening. We even went when the Bears were in the Super Bowl. The crowd was much smaller than Sunday morning, but there were always people eager to be there.
Over the years, the evening service started to feel less like a “real” service as preaching became less prominent. We’d watch a video for a month or combine with another church for the summer or try small groups. I have nothing against videos (in their proper place), joint services, or small groups. But at the time they all seemed like efforts to keep up the tradition of the evening service without putting forth much effort.
In college I went to a Baptist church with strong preaching. My friends and I went Sunday morning and came back hours later to their well-attended evening service. While at seminary, I attended a wonderful OPC (now PCA) congregation. The attendance could be sparse on Sunday night, but I was always eager to go. I even met my wife there.
My first pastoral charge was at a large church in Iowa. As the associate pastor I would often preach on Sunday evening. We had around 900 people in the morning and about half that in the evening. I was glad to be there for two services.
When I came to University Reformed Church in 2004 the long-standing tradition of evening services had just about disappeared. I don’t think the interim pastor had much interest in them, and the attendance had dwindled to a few dozen. I told the search committee that I wanted to resurrect the evening service. Over the years, the service grew to a strong core of committed folks, about one-fourth of our Sunday morning attendance.
Now as the pastor at Christ Covenant, I’m eager to pour into Sunday evening and, by God’s grace, see that service flourish.
Every church I’ve ever been a part of has had a Sunday evening service. I’ve always gone. It’s what I grew up with. It’s part of my rhythm as a Christian, and I am immensely grateful for it. It can be a chore to get the whole family back for the evening, and at times with young children my wife hasn’t been able to make it. But we hope to instill in our family the same habits that have served us so well.