The elders thank all of you that have responded to the survey concerning Sunday evenings and Wednesday. We have a wide variety of responses, yet there were some things that has stood out to me (Tommy).
- 1.Sometime ago we met on Sunday afternoon either at 2:00 PM or 6:00 PM. We thought that changing the time would help those who could not be at 6:00 PM when the time changed to “wintertime,” so we moved it to 2:00 PM. This seemed to work for a while, but it has been interesting to note that as we did not change it back this last year, some have now stated it is hard to go and get something to eat and get back at 2:00 PM. I appreciate that honesty as we look at this.
- 2.Some have suggested to go to 5:00 PM and leave it there year-round. Others have suggested meeting at 9:00 AM for early worship, 10:00 AM for Bible classes, and 11:00 AM for worship service. Many others only want one service per Sunday. Some have suggested that switching times hinders visitors and other members attendance. Good points!
- 3.We have contemplated and hopefully understood why Sunday evening services were held. According to what I have heard and have read, during WWII brethren wanted to give shift workers an opportunity to worship the Lord on Sunday. Soon, as with other things, it became the “norm” to have Sunday PM services as well as Sunday AM Services. Those who had to work on Sunday morning had the opportunity to meet with brethren after they were off work.
- 4.There are some in the church that have stated publicly that Sunday afternoon/evenings services are unscriptural, and that the elders have no authority to ask the church to come back on Sunday evenings. However, what does Hebrews 13:17 teach us? “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. The context suggests that the writer references elders in the church, as they “watch for your souls,” and let them so do “with joy and not with grief.” Our governmental authorities are NOT watching over our souls. Elders are commanded to do so. So we ask a hard question — does having less time together in study and prayer build stronger Christians? Does meeting together help us and encourage us? WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM COVID SHUT DOWNS? Many “ weak Christians” have quit, and others are discouraged and at the point of quitting.
- 5.We must note as well that in the 1940s and following many worship services would last two-three hours. Preaching itself would last at least an hour, and sometimes up to 1.5 – 2 hours. Slowly, the time was shortened. We honestly do not like to listen to a “long winded” sermon anymore. Culture has trained us to look at 30 second ads, and our attention span is, well, about 30 seconds long. (As a preacher I know that there are some preachers that are easy to listen to, and I know that some are not. Do we judge the lesson on the ability of the speaker or the truth he is preaching?) Is it because the time that GOD gives us is so important so I choose to do what I want to do, and I don’t want to have to sit and meditate on the word? I hope not, for if that is the case, we need to do some honest soul searching.
- 6.There is a concern by the elders about those who don’t come back on Sunday evenings, and we must be honest enough to state that those who do come back are discouraged when many choose not to come back, and they sit in an “emptier building.” So, do we just do away with Sunday evenings? Many have thus stated in the survey. But let us also ask, WILL LESS TIME TOGETHER AS A CHURCH TO STUDY GOD’S WORD AND ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER BUILD MORE SPIRITUALITY? The church in the first century met daily with one accord in the temple according to Acts 2:46-47 “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Note they met daily in the temple WITH ONE ACCORD — they all had their hearts set on serving and praising the Lord. Note that there were daily additions to the church – those who were being saved. Is it an accident that the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write this in this way? Did daily additions stem from daily meetings?
- 7.Some have suggested that we take Sunday evenings for service projects in the community. The Lord’s church needs to get out of the building with open eyes to help the grieving, the hurting, the hungry, the lonely, . . . Covid has hurt the church in serving others because we are afraid of catching it, or because we are afraid of possibly sharing it. Now, more than ever, the isolated and lonely in nursing homes and hospitals are suffering because they do not have the support system they need to get better. Consider some that are sick spiritually. Does absence from fellowship hurt their spiritual health? Beloved, may we always remember that the church is NOT THE BUILDING, but it is the people. We can be the church without a building! Hence, we need to go out and ENCOURAGE AND TEACH others the gospel and ENCOURAGE those who have fallen away by seeking them and encouraging them to come back.
Brethren, we are concerned. The church is being attacked in so many ways, and as the world grows darker our lights should shine brighter. We need one another, we need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18); we need to meet to encourage and uplift one another; we need to reach out to those who have walked away because “the love of many has waxed cold” (Matthew 24:12). Will coming back on Sunday evening solve all these issues? Not necessarily, for my spiritual growth in Christ is not dependent ONLY ON YOU, but mainly on me. But if I am discouraged because we spend less time together, will that aid me in my growth? If I am not challenged to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ because we have less meeting time, then what will help me grow in his grace and knowledge? Hence, is it wise to have less time in meeting and spending time together, or should we have more time? If we went to one service would we be restless if it lasted over 1.5 hours?
I close with the thoughts of Acts 20:7-12. Paul had entered Troas, and it is extremely possible that they met on Sunday evenings so that those who had to work might be able to come (I hope I am not reading anything into the text) TO WORSHIP TOGETHER. They were not bound by watching a clock – they met until they were done. Paul preached till midnight (I wonder how many would have fallen asleep in that lesson). We do know that Eutychus did “…was sinking in a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep, and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up as dead.” Paul healed him — they ate together and STAYED TOGETHER TILL DAYBREAK. Meeting with the saints was so important to them. They wanted to spend time together. They needed it as they went out in the world that stood against them and the teachings of Christ, which was and is the only hope the world has today.
Today we are trying to cram so much in the time that we have that we often do not take time for God and for his people. Does God get second best from us in our time? Does this hurt us spiritually, brethren? When we don’t encourage one another to grow; when we fail to weep with those who weep and REJOICE WITH THOSE WHO REJOICE (Romans 12:15) we hurt the body. We claim to be so busy, and most, if not all of us, are. But have we become so busy chasing our pursuits and dreams that we have crowded God out of the picture?
He who gives us all things — forgiveness, material things such as houses, jobs, family, love, joy, peace, and our TIME . . . Should we not commit ourselves to him first! (Matthew 6:33)?
Please pray for the elders as we make these decisions regarding Sunday evening. And please search your heart, and ask yourself – do I SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD in my life (Matthew 6:33)?
As I close this article, here are two things for ALL OF US to think about here at South Cobb:
- 1.What do you seek for the Lord’s church here at South Cobb?
- 2.What do you seek spiritually?
THINK ON THESE THINGS – Philippians 4:8
By the time you read these words, we should be a couple of days or so into 2022. The first day of a new year arrived with celebration and fanfare.as it does every year. If it hasn’t happened already, it probably won’t be very long before all of us begin to realize that there is really not a whole lot that is new about a new year.
We are also less than two weeks removed from a day that at least the younger ones were so excited about. They got to open boxes, bags, and envelopes that contained some things that were brand new. By now, trash collectors may have already taken the boxes away and that new gift may have already lost its “newness.”
Some who read this may remember a time when a new member was welcomed into their family either by birth, adoption, or marriage. It may be that the excitement of anticipation has begun to wane as we deal with the realities of maintaining those relationships.
Have you ever been excited about a new job? Have you ever been disappointed when you found out that it might not have been quite as great an opportunity as it appeared to be?
What about that new car, computer, gadget, tool, etc. that looked like it was all you could ever hope for? Have you already been enticed by a newer and glitzier version?
What about the woman or man of your dreams? Have you found out that he/she is not perfect after all? Has the new worn off of that relationship?
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. One of the interesting and disappointing aspects of the human experience seems to be that whatever it is that is new doesn’t seem to stay new very long. I find it interesting that some product will be advertised as “the ultimate _____________,” but it will be followed by a new and improved version of that same product. Of course, that new and improved version will be touted as the ultimate only to be followed by something else that is new and improved.
I’m not as concerned about gifts and products nearly as much as I am about relationships. While I am concerned about interpersonal relationships, I am primarily concerned about a person’s relationship with God. Specifically, I’m wondering if somebody reading these words has a relationship with God that has gone the way of last year’s gifts, an old car that was traded in, a toy that has been put away, a piece of jewelry that is no longer worn, etc.
I think that all of us, including me (maybe especially including me), would do well to read the following verses. Taken out of context, we might think that the author woke up every morning with everything going his way. I would invite you to put the verses back in their context. When you do, you will see that this is not at all the case. In the midst of terribly trying times, these words were written:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
How is that possible? How would it be possible for the new to not wear off especially during difficult times?
Could it be that the answer to those questions has to do with a mindset? Could it be that my life and the lives of others around me might be richly blessed if I choose to focus on the blessings I’ve received from God instead of how others have mistreated me, the “slings and arrows” of everyday living, etc.?
There is something else we might consider. Have you ever seen an old car that looks like it just rolled out of the showroom? How does that happen? I know from experience that it is not wise to let an older car “just sit.” Instead, it takes a great deal of care, attention, and maintenance. In other words, keeping an old car looking and performing like a new one involves an investment of significant time and resources.
What if I invested a significant amount of time and resources in the various relationships I have in my life, including my relationship with God? Do you think that there is a chance that this might keep the new from wearing off?
It’s not too late in what is still a fairly new year to give that a try!
https://faughnfamily.com/has-the-new-worn-off-yet/ Accessed 1 5 2022.