Why meet on Sunday evenings?
We are not dogmatic or legalistic about this principle, and we certainly don’t judge anyone who chooses to meet on Sunday mornings, but we do believe Sunday evening is the best time for the church to meet. There are two parts to this principle: First is Sunday. The second is evening.
Sunday is, of course, the first day of the week. The Gospel writers report to us that Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Shortly thereafter, the first Christians—all Jews who traditionally observed the Sabbath on the last day of the week—considered this fact so central to their new faith that they began meeting to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (See Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Revelation 1:10).
Acts 20 and church history indicate that for the first 300-500 years of church history, the churches met on Sunday evenings. Evening was probably better for the early church because in Israel—as well as the entire Roman Empire—the first day of the week was a work day. Meeting in the morning was very inconvenient. In addition, the shared meal was a key component. An evening meal is a much more natural time for this purpose than breakfast or lunch as Acts 20:7-11 indicates.
So, this is one of the common practices for our churches. Not just because we believe it was the practice of the early church, but for some practical reasons as well.
- Sunday helps define these gatherings as churches. We have the freedom to meet any other day of the week, but by meeting on Sunday we hope to distinguish these gatherings from various other small-group meetings. By meeting on Sunday, we are identifying ourselves with the early church—as well as the church throughout history—that has met on the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
- Facilitates network gatherings. As we grow into a “church of churches”—a network of churches in every neighborhood in the Lawrence area—we will have regular network gatherings. If each church is meeting on different days of the week, it will be more difficult for everyone to attend these gatherings. But, if our common practice is to meet on Sunday evenings in our individual churches, it will be very natural to bring the entire “church of churches” together at that same time.
- Facilitates various other meetings. Also, during the week we need to have leadership meetings, Antioch School courses, youth group, men’s and women’s Bible studies and probably other meetings like these. If each church is meeting on different days, these secondary meetings will conflict with the main gathering of the week.
- Earlier meeting times. By meeting on Sunday evenings, we can meet earlier than on week nights. We have found that many people who have office hours or a commute, are unable to get to an evening meeting until after 7 p.m. during the week. Sunday evening gatherings can begin much earlier since many people do not work on Sundays. We do recognize that Sunday is no longer a day off for many other people, but we find that a majority still have Sunday evenings off and free. But, we believe a Sunday evening gathering will appeal to many people who must work during the day on Sunday.
Sunday evening gatherings are very relaxed; more like hanging out with family and friends (with meaningful interaction, prayer and study) than “going to church”. Visit this week and see for yourself.