Burning Question: I know why we “go” to church on Sundays (not Saturdays) because of the New Testament, but why Sunday nights and Wednesday nights? When did that historically come into play? Is it just a Baptist thing? And why Sunday School groups?
From a biblical perspective, our “normal” church service schedules and formats aren’t addressed. Of course, there are principles in Scripture that guide our services and formats (John 4:24, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, and others). It appears that the Lord’s Day (Sunday) replaced the Sabbath (Saturday) as the more formal day of worship in the New Testament, but there is also evidence of the early believers meeting for worship and teaching every day during the week (Acts 2:46).
Regarding the practice of meeting on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights today, the reasons would be more practical than specifically biblical. These additional meeting times offer additional opportunity for believers to engage together in worship, teaching, and prayer. Rather than waiting an entire week to meet again, Wednesday evenings offer a mid-week “boost” for believers and also provide unique opportunities for ministry that are sometimes not easily accomplished on a Sunday.
I wouldn’t say that gathering together on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings is necessarily a Baptist distinctive because other denominations also follow this practice. However, not all Baptist churches even follow this pattern. Here at FBCI, we changed our practice of having Sunday evening services a number of years back to replace it with a small-group discipleship ministry called DIVE.
What does seem to be the norm, and gladly so, is some form of small-group discipleship within the church so that believers can be discipled in their faith. It has been said that life-change in a person’s life happens most effectively in the context of small groups, and I completely agree. It’s one of the four primary things that we focus on in our church and falls under the category of GROW in our KNOW, GROW, SHOW, GO summary of our mission here.
So whether it’s called Sunday School, Life Group, Small Group, Spiritual Formation Group, or any other catchy name, believers need to be together in a life-on-life setting in order to encourage and speak into the lives of one another. Hebrews 10:23-25 is as good of a passage as you will find to drive this point home clearly! But while we are growing together in our groups, we must be certain that we do not become so focused on ourselves and our own growth that we fail to reach outside the walls to serve others and take the Gospel to those without Christ! As is so often the case, balance is the key!