During the Protestant Reformation, the new churches struggled financially as they were cut from the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church. One of the ways money was raised was through families owning their own pew. These pews were much different from the long benches we think of today. These pews were more like box seating found in a concert hall or sports arena. If you wanted to attend a worship service and did not have the money to purchase a pew you could stand around the sides. Another option arose during that time, especially in churches that were growing. Churches began to offer open seating during a Sunday evening service. Many churches found this to be a great evangelistic outreach to their community as it brought in the poor and non-church members. Who wouldn’t want free box seating to hear a great sermon?
The history of Sunday night services is not very clear. The above is one example found in history where it was used successfully. There are stories in America of the church being one of the first places to receive electricity and therefore a great place to hang out after dark for fellowship and the study of Scriptures. Others tell of a service that was held in the afternoon following “church on the grounds.” What is clear is that Sunday nights have been a productive time in Southern Baptist history to come together for worship, discipleship and church training. However, it is a tradition struggling to hold on in our modern context.
A couple of weeks ago we did a survey to figure out the best way for us to meet the needs of those wanting to attend on Sunday night. This was not a vote but rather a way to understand that various needs of our church. As suspected, there was not any consensus. However, we were able to put together a plan that we think serves our needs and keeps Sunday night a viable opportunity for Christian growth. Our new schedule begins on February 11. Our Sunday evening Bible Study will begin at 6:00 at the same time as a new children’s choir. Give us an hour and we will make it worth it in your Christian growth.