May 16, 2014

One More Thought on Evening Services

Recently, Tim Challies and Thom Rainer have weighed in on reasons behind the demise of the evening service, particularly the Sunday evening service. The reasons are complex (and possibly not all bad if the local church has been able to develop a vibrant small-group setting).

From my reading of their thoughts, one piece of the puzzle is missing - divorce. Specifically, the practical reality of weekend parenting usually reserved for dads. There is a double-impact here: divorced dads with young kids are also in their prime of life and would tend to be major contributors to and supporters of the Sunday evening service. We not only lose their energy needed to sustain a viable Sunday evening service, we also lose both them and their families to windshield time or a scheduled hand-off on Sunday nights.

I'm not exactly sure how this escaped the notice of Tim and Thom. Perhaps their local church does not struggle with attendees or divorce, but for the majority of churches, a relatively small flock thinned by even a couple of families will leave a noticeable void in the Sunday service.

This is not an issue that can be resolved through piling on guilt. If you think it's a lack of spiritual hunger on the part of the dads, consider this. When was the last time you spent 50% of your time with your children in church? As well, there are the additional factors needing consideration, such as the distance traveled to return them home, decompression time for kids to adjust between households, and allowing a reasonable bedtime for school the following morning.

There are many more complexities to the question of the demise of Sunday evening services. I sincerely want to make sure this hurdle did not go unrecognized.
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