Top Ten Reasons to Attend Evening Worship
Herein lies that which all the beauty of the world fades before, and becomes as a thing of nought,—which brings all the outward pomp of ceremonious worship into contempt;—I mean the glory and excellence that lies in the spiritual communion of the soul with God, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, in that heavenly intercourse which is between God and his saints in their worship, by this means.
That's how John Owen (1616–1683) expressed the beauty and glory of public worship in the New Covenant (Works, 9:73 or here). Christians would say "Amen!" to this as they enter and depart their Sunday morning services. If it's true that the Triune God of grace meets with us on Sunday morning, why not on Sunday evening?
Over the years I have taught God's people publicly and privately (Acts 20:20) to worship the Triune God of grace every Lord's Day morning and evening. As a pastor in a denomination that is rooted in the Dutch Reformation, having a second service (most commonly held in the evening) is "just what we do." It's a part of our ethos and practice of faith. In fact, so important is the second (evening) service that the document that regulates our life together as churches, called our "Church Order," requires every United Reformed congregation to hold a second service in its thirty-seventh article (the time on the Lord's Day is up to each congregation). As a pastor of such a church, I have read lots of articles and listened to lots of sermons on the subject. Here's one example.
A while back in my weekly email to my congregation, I gave my people my "Top Ten Reasons to Attend Evening Worship" in an ongoing effort to educate, encourage, and exhort. They are not exhaustive and they apply to my context, in particular, but the principles should be applicable to any who reads this. May God move his people in our time to sanctify the Christian Sabbath, leading to a renewal of evening worship.
- God promises to be present in our midst unlike anywhere else in public worship.
- This is a practical help for us to sanctify the Lord’s Day with morning and evening bookends.
- This lays a foundation for our children to be evening attenders as well when they grow up (and not what the Dutch call a "oncer").
- Since the Word of God is the food for our souls, we get “breakfast" and “dinner" every Lord’s Day with two sermons.
- We also read through the Old and New Testaments in evening worship with a chapter from each.
- We sing through the biblical Psalms together with two Psalms a week [we’ve done this 10+ times in 15 years].
- Our evening service is based on the historic form of evening prayer from the Protestant Reformation, thus giving us a sense of the communion of the saints through the ages.
- We pray biblically-saturated, ancient prayers together at evening worship, thus giving us a sense of transcendence.
- We get to bear each other’s burdens as we lift up prayer requests in each other’s midst.
- Since there is no Sunday school after, we have more time to fellowship and enjoy each other’s presence after the evening service.