Lack of attendance at the evening service points to a lack of thankfulness and a lost sense of the privilege of worship. This article shows that the second service should be kept, in obedience to the fourth commandment.

Source: The Evangelical Presbyterian, 2009. 2 pages.

The Lord’s Half-Day

Why do our churches have a Sunday evening service?

It is a question we need to consider because we live in a time when public worship is being reduced to mornings only. Come lunch time, for many churches the Lord’s Day is over. Thirty years ago most towns and villages in Northern Ireland had a ‘half-day’. Shops and businesses were closed on a particular afternoon of the week. Now there is shopping seven days a week and the half-day practice seems to have moved into the church.

While people rush around shopping for items that can easily be obtained on any of the other six days of the week, Christians ought to revere the Lord’s Day as a day in which we can contemplate those things that are beyond price. It would have been hard to find a place of worship in Belfast (and in many other towns) on the last Sunday evening of 2008, especially in the large mainline denominations. “Well, we might expect that”, I hear you say. But hold on a minute, some churches regarded as Biblical, Evangelical and Reformed recorded very low attendances on that Sunday as well.

Never on a Sunday🔗

The vast majority of citizens in the British Isles do not attend church – that is fact. Our society is largely ungodly and Sunday has become another day for shopping, family activities or attending to those chores that we meant to do all week. The pressure that many face today to work on Sunday is enormous and the challenge that young people face in seeking employment in these difficult days is increased by the need to be available for ‘weekend work’.

The privilege of worship is despised and the freedom to worship ignored. Sinclair Ferguson has written, “When we cease to worship the Lord our thankfulness has only inadequate objects others, ourselves, or our lucky stars. Hence Paul links together not worshipping the Lord and being unthankful” (Romans 1:21).1

Maybe Once on a Sunday🔗

Many do attend church once a Sunday. Yet churches that gather large congregations in the morning struggle to get a handful of people in the evening. Again Sinclair Ferguson points out “that when we lose the sense of the privilege of worship the desire to worship (the problem is within us!) true worship slowly dies.” 2

Drive through some of our towns and villages and see the former places of worship now either turned into shops or places of entertainment or have simply become derelict. The Glory has departed! Non-attendance at the services of worship is in clear disobedience to God’s command: we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. When the church meets it is the duty of every member to be present except when those duties of mercy and necessity call and we are not unmindful of those whose age, health and other circumstances prevent church attendance twice on Sunday.

Why Twice on a Sunday?🔗

How do we answer the question, “Why two services on Sunday?” The 4th commandment tells us to “keep the Sabbath day holy”. We meet on the Lord’s Day, the Christian Sabbath, and despite what is becoming an increasingly popular culture within evangelicalism it is the Lord’s Day, not the Lord’s morning. This we are to remember.

While there is no direct command as to the number of times the church should meet on the Lord’s Day there are patterns that we find concerning morning and evening. Psalm 92: “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night. (Emphasis ours) John Benton has written, “As Christians, we meet on Sundays as the day of Christ’s resurrection. It is suggestive that the gospels record resurrection appearances in the morning and the evening.” (John 20:1, 19).3At the time of the Reformation in England the custom of morning and evening worship is evidenced in Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer.

By coming to church twice on Sundays we are nailing our colours to the mast. We are saying that we belong to a different kingdom. Our values are different, our outlook is different and our lives are different. It should not be out of duty that we come to church twice on a Sunday but out of sheer delight and with joyful hearts that we come before the Lord in worship. Staying at home on a cold Sunday evening can be very tempting but neglecting an opportunity to worship is detrimental to your spiritual well-being and does not encourage others in the fellowship. Your absence causes your Minister and Elders concern and disappointment. Often slipping attendances is the first sign that something else is taking priority. Empty churches will discourage seeking souls and if “people are going to be challenged by seeing full churches, and hearing enthusiastic singing and thinking ‘What’s going on there?’” 4Our absence is hardly setting an example of our enthusiasm for the things of Christ.

In today’s world when we face so much ungodliness in every avenue of life how important it is to feed upon the Word of God and what a privilege it is to be able to do that twice on a Sunday. Iain D Campbell has written, “It is a foolish person who passes up a golden opportunity to meet with the risen Lord. Which is why I shall shout loud that Christians should worship together twice on Sundays. At the very least.” 5


  1. ^  The Banner of Truth magazine, October 2008, p 14.
  2. ^ Ibid.
  3. ^ Why two Sunday Services? Evangelicals Now, September 2008.
  4. ^ Ibid.
  5. ^  Taken from Creideamh, the web site of Dr Iain D Campbell, Pastor of Back Free Church, Isle of Lewis

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