The Forgotten Gift Of Evening Worship

When I was a boy, my parents gave my siblings and me a big, round trampoline. That gift brought us and countless hours of fun, laughter, and exercise. So, when our children were old enough, Jordan and I decided to surprise them with a big, round trampoline for Christmas. As I bolted the frame together and strained to hook the canvas to the springs, I thought of how much joy it would bring them. But after the big reveal their enthusiasm quickly faded. Now, the trampoline sits forgotten beneath a carpet of old fall leaves.

For many, the gift of evening worship on the Lord’s Day has suffered a similar fate. So, in this season of fresh starts and resolutions, here are some biblical, historical, and practical reasons you should cherish the gift of evening worship.

Biblical Considerations

While there is no biblical mandate for evening worship, there is a clear “morning and evening” rhythm established in Scripture. It is not insignificant that the God who bids us “remember the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8) regards “a day” as an “evening and… morning” (Genesis 1:5). Thus, for Old Testament saints, the rising and setting of the sun were accompanied by the aroma of burnt offerings wafting from the tabernacle (Exodus 29:39). The “Song for the Sabbath” declares, “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night” (Psalm 92:1-2). Psalm 134 also sings of the blessing of evening worship: “Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!” (Psalm 134:1-2).

This pattern seems to have carried over into the New Testament church, where we find Paul preaching late into the night on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Taken as a whole these verses shed a compelling light on the Sabbath practice of the church in Scripture. Read more»

Jim McCarthy | “The Forgotten Gift Of Evening Worship” | January 6, 2022


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  1. I am very grateful for Rev McCarthy’s article, along with the other posts on the Heidelblog that speak highly of the evening worship service. Indeed, there’s more than one angle from which to argue in favor of having more than one worship service each Lord’s Day. However, I would like to offer perhaps a less-talked-about angle that applies to more than a few pastors. What about the pastor who serves a congregation of less than 100 souls, with two ruling elders who are well beyond the age of being able to effectively serve (who certainly qualify for but lovingly delay in taking on an ’emeritus’ status on the consistory). The pastor is burdened with largely all teaching of Sunday School, all Bible Studies, all new member’s classes, all catechesis classes, most all shepherding & visitation, most all counseling of special cases arising in the lives of parishioners, etc. The “etc.” shouldn’t be taken lightly here. The pastor practically shoulders the work of about three people. Eventually, of course, if something doesn’t get cut, the pastor slowly moves down the road of true burn-out. And if “cutting” is not an option at all in any of these areas, then he either gives 20% of himself to each of the many areas, or he ‘tries’ to give 100% to all the areas but works 7 days/wk and runs himself into the ground mentally and physically. This scenario is not theoretical. I know of several pastors who simply discontinued their evening services, not on principial grounds at all, but on practical ones. As one can imagine in an already-small church, the Sunday School & morning worship is well-attended, while the evening service is attended by an extreme few (a service the pastor has poured himself into as much as the other areas of ministry). Is it wrong for this pastor, who wishes to serve his flock well in the many other ways they need to be served outside of worship, to discontinue the evening service in the interest of preserving the church’s pastor from burn-out (not to mention his relationship with this wife and children)? It is sometimes difficult to read an article by one like Rev McCarthy and celebrate with him the interest in upholding and valuing the means of grace by keeping an evening service, WHILE ALSO recognizing that as of this date Rev McCarthy’s church website indicates he has a Church Secretary, Minister of Missions, Minister in Residence, Minister of Discipleship, Minister to Students, Director of Children’s Ministries, Assistant to Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry Assistant, Church Administrator, Project Coordinator, Office Manager, along with other support staff. Should the pastor spoken of above, who labors in love for his small flock, feel guilty for even considering following in the footsteps of other pastors who have deemed it necessary to discontinue the evening worship service?

    • James,

      If we are going to prioritize the means of grace as we should, does not that mean that we may have to curtail other activities however valuable they might be?

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