Today’s entry is by guest blogger, Dr. Parnell Lovelace.
I drove into the parking lot of the church last Sunday night. The crowds that were present for the morning church services were nowhere to be seen. There were no crossing guards or children’s church workers standing enthusiastically in the foyer prepared to direct small ones to a classroom for a special teaching lesson. There were no suits, hats, or fancy attire. Yet there was a profound excitement and passion for gathering that marked this vesper meeting. People seemed focused on worship, prayer, and fellowship. An intentional effort to engage community, corporate worship, and connection with the pre-churched was palpable.
The local church within the urban or city setting is uniquely positioned to reach a transient demographic that often views the city corridor as a destination venue. A church that creatively designs an evening gathering will have the opportunity to reach additional people with the good news of the gospel.
I have often thought that the need for an evening church service is diminishing as churches have transitioned to multiple morning services, video venues, and live streaming. There was a period in time that evening services were pretty standard with most congregations. This has changed significantly over the years. However, I would argue that for a church within an urban context, careful consideration must be given to offering a worship service that presents an alternative to the morning gatherings.
The following benefits may be observed with offering a Sunday evening church service:
1. Provides an additional opportunity to connect with the community.
2. Allows for extended time of worship and fellowship.
3. Gives an opportunity for associate ministers and lay ministers to share their gifts.
4. Can emphasize prayer and personal ministry.
5. The Lord’s Supper can be served during this time.
6. Possibility of water baptism opportunities.
7. Youth ministry participation.
8. Gives space for special music ministry.
9. Can have a theme evening focus (Missions, Outreach, Youth, Healing, etc.).
10. Allows for special guest speakers or guest congregations to share.
The objective is to encourage attendees to invite and bring co-workers, family members, and neighbors to a service that is inviting and welcoming. The church has an opportunity to recapture an audience that is often simply looking for a place to go to connect with new people. This may be a true means of reaching people with the gospel using an old time frame as a structure while embracing fresh and innovative methods of ministry.
As the old adage states, “On Sunday morning we go to church, but on Sunday night we have church!” Let’s rethink reaching the city by offering an old standard in a new and vibrant way.
Parnell M. Lovelace, Jr., MSW, D.Min.
Lovelace Leadership Connection
Rancho Cordova, California
As the successful founding pastor of 3000 member Center of Praise Ministries, Sacramento, California, Parnell M Lovelace, Jr. serves as an apostolic strategist, merging the Church with the social constructs of urban community. He holds a MSW, University of Oklahoma; MPTH Oral Roberts University, and D.Min., Talbot School of Theology.