THE GATHERING:

The reasoning behind a Second Service.

The service will be called “The Gathering” and it will be described as “A Sunday Evening Fellowship and Praise Service.”  We believe the name “The Gathering” is catchy and memorable and that the description is accurate.  We are going to gather with the Lord, with one another, with those whom we are going to ask to come, and with those whom the Lord will lead to come through advertising or other means.  The Gathering is going to be unique in that it will take place in the Christian Education Center.  It will be casual, creative and informative.   

The environment at the Gathering will be one that fosters fellowship as people come and gather around the Word with a cup of cappuccino, coffee, cocoa or tea and a fresh baked good.  That’s right; there will be a Café at the back of the Worship Center.  All of the equipment to get the café started was donated in belief that this will encourage people to stay longer and minister to one another.

The name for the Café will be Shiloh Holy Grounds.  The logo was created by Amy and Michael Belovesick.  Shiloh Holy Grounds will accept donations for the various coffees.  Premium coffee, such as Starbucks, and cappuccinos, like Peppermint Patty, Cinnamon Bun, and Fat Free Vanilla, will prove to keep any droopy eyed loafer awake.  Of course, music from one of our four praise bands, visuals, skits, readings, old fashioned flannel graph stories for kids, and to-the-point biblical preaching, will encourage and instruct us in God’s ways.  For those who wouldn’t be able to contain themselves if they had caffeine in their Joe, we will always serve a premium decaffeinated coffee along with the old standby coffee which Pastor Scott has called “The Pitts.”

Some of you might be reluctant in coming to a second service.  Why go to church twice on Sunday?  Isn’t once enough?  I want to encourage you to carefully consider coming to both services.  There is great significance in our gathering twice on a Sunday.

Michael G. Brown has published an article in the Banner of Truth Magazine (Oct. 2007).  In that article he offers reasons to come to an evening service.  The following points were included in his article in which I have adapted for our particular circumstances.          

1.  Evening worship is Scriptural.  While there is no explicit command in the Bible for us to have two worship services, we do find a pattern present.  We see it in the creation order.  There was evening and there was morning (Gen. 1-2).  When sacrifices were made under the Old Covenant, they were made once in the morning and then again just before evening (Num. 28:1-10).  Thus the Psalmist declares in Psalm 92:1-2, 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. 

2.  Evening worship helps us to set-apart the Lord’s Day.  It will be wonderful for families, couples, singles and widows to literally bookend their Sabbath day by beginning with worship and ending with worship.  This literally says to God, “I have set the whole day apart for You.”  After all, it is the Lord’s Day; not just the Lord’s morning. 

The Sabbath day is a gift from God, a time for us to be together without the distraction of work, a time to feed on God’s words, to bless and be blessed by brothers and sisters, and a time to really focus on the Lord. Yes, we all want to rest from the work week; but God knows that true rest comes when we sit at His feet and meet together as the Body of Christ.  So I challenge all of you to real rest and to reclaim the wonderful blessing of the Sabbath Day by setting it apart from the rest of the week.   

3. The evening worship, like morning worship is a means of Grace.  The Heidelberg Catechism Q & A Number 65 asks, “Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, from where cometh this faith?  It answers: ‘The Holy Spirit works it in our heart by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the Holy Sacraments.”  Many churches have decided to have Bible study on Sunday evening, instead of a sermon.  Who wants to sit through another boring sermon? (Of course you wouldn’t say that about your pastor?)  But if preaching and the sacraments are truly God’s primary means of Grace, then wouldn’t it be better for us to have two worship services, with two different messages?  “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ”- Romans 10:17, and it is the ‘the preaching of Jesus Christ” that strengthens us.   “How will they know unless someone preaches to them?” - Romans 16:25.   The Gathering will provide another opportunity for us to be encouraged and built-up.  It will also provide another opportunity our community for the sake of the Gospel. 

4.  Evening worship is consistent with the historic Church.  Looking at the history of the church, having both Sunday morning and evening services were the norm.  By the early fourth century, church historian Eusebius of Caesarea described what he understood to be the universal practice of the church:  For it is surely no small sign of God’s power that throughout the whole world in the churches of God at the morning rising of the sun and at the evening hours, hymns, praises, and truly divine delights are offered to God.  God’s delights are indeed the hymns sent up everywhere on earth in his Church at the times of morning and evening.  (Eusebius,Commentary on Psalm 64, as quoted from the Oxford History of Christian Worship (Oxford: Oxford university Press, 2006), p. 60).  

During the middle ages, morning worship became know n as ‘lauds’ and evening worship as ‘vespers’.  Attending both serves was standard practice for Christian.  At the time of the reformation it was custom to meet both Sunday morning and evening.  The evening service included exposition of reformed doctrine and was catechetical in nature.  Through the centuries it was the custom of the Dutch Reformed Church, English Puritans, Scottish Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Lutherans to hold services in the morning and evening.  What the church has experience more recently by holding just a single service is a departure from the normal practice of the church. 

So I encourage you to consider coming to both services.  And especially invite a friend to The Gathering at 6:00 p.m. beginning January 3rd.  Many of your friends and family may have a home church that they attend on Sunday morning but they don’t have an evening service to attend.  This could be the opportunity for them to personally experience the love of God through the witness and fellowship of God’s people in an inviting environment that encourages openness.  As Michael Brown so clearly puts it – “It will be good for the soul!”

 

~Pastor Scott