As elders we desire to see every person grow into maturity (Col. 1:28-29). In doing this we put a heavy emphasis upon the means that the Bible sets forth. Some examples including preaching and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2ff); praying together (1 Tim. 2:8; Acts 1:13-14); and speaking the Word to one another (Eph. 4:15) as we spend time gathering together (Acts 2:42ff; Heb. 10:25-26).
This is why we are planning to add a Sunday evening service this fall. On September 20th we will begin meeting in the evening at 6:00 for time together. In what follows I want to provide some information about the service that will hopefully help you in better understanding why we are doing this now.
Emmaus is a young church (4 years old on 1 September) but we are a church that has gone through a season of transition. The bottom line attendance has not drastically changed in the last year but the people that make up the church has. As a result, most people are “new”. We aim to have an evening service that unites everyone around what is essential for Christians to be about: learning the Bible, prayer, and fellowship in the gospel. It will allow more interaction together but it also affords another opportunity to be taught the Bible and gather together to pray as a church family.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?
This will not be a duplicate of the morning service but another service. In fact, it should have a bit of a different feel than the am service. It will last for 1 hour with a few hymns, a time of prayer, and a short message (30 mins or so). This venue will provide increased time for conversation and encouragement after the service.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO STUDY?
As we begin in the Fall we are going to tackle some of the most common questions that people are asking. I am going to begin a series entitled, “What Does the Bible Teach About…?” Some of the many questions that I would like to tackle are “What Does the Bible Teach About…Homosexuality, Men’s and Women’s roles, Alcohol, Infant Baptism, how to engage culture, politics / voting, evolution, Cults, Divorce, End Times, Social Justice, the Mission of the Church, The Lord’s Table, etc. This will get us started in the fall. If you have items that you would to have addressed here, please send me an email.
WHAT ABOUT CHILD CARE?
After talking with a number of volunteers in the children’s ministry, members, guests, and even friends from other churches, we decided not to offer a nursery/child care at this time. One reason is because it will be short (1 hour). It is ok if there are some noises—it’s a family meeting! We will be sure to keep the back section open for Moms and Dads with small children.
WHY SHOULD YOU COME?
First, it is another opportunity to study the Bible, pray with other believers, and spend time encouraging one another. We don’t get enough of this. Let’s take advantage of it.
Second, while it is not specifically stated in the Bible that you must have an evening service, it has been done throughout history, at least the Reformed tradition. It reflects the morning and evening sacrifice (Ex. 29:28) where the day is bracketed in service to God. It helps to promote a culture where the Lord’s Day is valued and fellowship with the saints is treasured (cf Acts 2:42ff).
Third, as elders we all think this would be good for your growth. Now, don’t get me wrong here, we are not commanding anybody to do anything—we don’t have authority to do any such thing. However, we do have accountability to God for the souls of the flock at Emmaus (Heb. 13:17) and we truly believe that this will help us to grow more into Christlikeness. We think this would be a wise use of time in view of the goal of growing together in Christ. Think of it like a meal plan. Your pastors are developing a spiritual meal plan for you and saying, “This will greatly help you brothers and sisters.” So, take some bites and watch how God uses it!
WHAT ABOUT GC’S?
We have over 115 adults in Gospel Communities. This is a lot of people. We remain committed to GC’s and see their value. We don’t see the addition of Sunday nights as something contrary to GC’s but auxilary to them. They work together after the same goals. Some GC’s may be adjusting their meeting times to accommodate Sunday nights. There is freedom to do this. Let’s communicate and come up with a good plan. If you are in a GC, talk to your leader, they are already thinking through this.
WHAT ABOUT TIME?
As a pastor and husband, and father to 6 kids, I feel the pressures of time just like anyone else. The last thing that I or any of the other pastors want to do is so fill up the church calendar that no one can spend any time with their families, friends, or lost neighbors. What we are asking you to do is take a good look at your schedule and to prioritize Sundays as important to spend time being fed and fellowshipping with your church family. We realize this is counter-cultural. But, Christians are counter-cultural!
If you say, “What should I commit to?” We would agree with one pastor’s approach to this. He called it the “Plus-One Approach to the Week.” He said, take Sunday morning and add one thing. And then, if you have more time pick another thing and go from there. Don’t just automatically add 5-7 things! And, don’t throw up your hands and say you have no time. Instead, carefully evaluate it. What would that plus one be at Emmaus? We would suggest it be Sunday nights. Come to Sunday morning, Sunday nights, and then if you are able do other things during the week, go for it. There are seasons in life that make things easier and more difficult. Think it through, pray, seek counsel and prioritize.
6:00 – 6:10 Hymns
6:10 – 6:30 Prayer
6:30 – 7:00 Sermon
7:00 – Benediction & Closing Prayer
Please feel free to talk to me or any of the pastors about this further. We want to answer any questions you might have.
As I close this, allow me one brief antidote, when I look back at some of the most precious times as a new Christian I think about Sunday evenings. It seemed like I grew a ton, chatted up so many brothers and sisters, and flat out found myself feeling like a member of a new family. It was so good. Our prayer for Emmaus over the next years is that this climate of prayer, fellowship, and study of God’s Word would shape us to be a people who love Christ’s church because we more deeply love Christ himself.
For Christ and His Church,