The Decline of Sunday Evening Services

Episode #064
July 25, 2014
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Podcast Episode #064

A recent post and podcast on changing trends in the church created quite a stir with one particular issue: Sunday night worship services. As Jonathan points out in this week’s podcast, there are typically four options for churches on Sunday nights: no service, a copy of the Sunday morning service, a different but less-attended worship service, and a time of discipleship either on- or off-campus.

While some faith traditions have no history of Sunday evening services, many do. If you do have Sunday evening services or a time of discipleship, I would encourage you to examine what you do as a church and ask if that’s the best thing for your context. While many churches are doing away with Sunday evening services, not every church should. If you continue to hold Sunday evening gatherings, be creative with what you do and make Sunday evenings work best for your church in your specific context.

That being said, here are the six main reasons Sunday evening worship services are on the decline:

  1. The advent of Sunday evening services in many churches was a cultural adaptation for its time. Its decline or demise is thus a cultural response.
  2. The disappearance of blue laws (mandatory Sunday closings) allowed many alternatives to Sunday evening worship, and many church members chose those options.
  3. There has been an increasing emphasis on family time. Families with children at home particularly viewed one worship service on Sundays to be sufficient for them.
  4. Many pastors simply do not have the desire, energy, or commitment to prepare a second and different sermon. Their lack of emphasis was thus reflected in the congregation’s lack of interest.
  5. When many churches began offering services on alternative days, such as Fridays or Saturdays, there was neither the desire nor the resources to keep Sunday evening services going.
  6. A number of churches, particularly new church starts, are in leased facilities. They do not have the option of returning on Sunday evenings.

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