We are entering a season of the year when many churches, if they still have Sunday evening worship services, will be cancelling them for a Sunday night. The leaders of these churches will say, “Well, most everybody wants to watch the ‘big game’ (or at least the commercials) and so, rather than being tied to a ‘tradition’ of meeting on Sunday night as well as Sunday morning, we’re just cancelling the evening service.”
While, on the surface, this sounds like they are listening to their flock and being sensitive to their flock’s needs, is such really the case? Is cancelling services because of a football game really putting the spiritual needs of their flock first? Is cancelling services ever really a good idea?
I would have to say that it is really never a good idea to cancel an assembly, unless it is absolutely necessary. The elders here at Eastgate really don’t like to have to cancel services...but when the weather is bad and/or the roads are dangerous, sometimes it is necessary for safety reasons.
In the past, I have asked elders to either cancel or “rearrange” evening services on the day of the “big game.” As I have grown and matured in my career and faith, I have stopped asking about this because, well, what does it say when we allow outside forces to tell us when to assemble to worship God.
While it is true that our meeting times are set by our local elders for the convenience of the members and not a matter of doctrine, it is also true that God expects and demands that He be the top priority in the lives of His people.
Also, think about our children. What are we teaching them if we cancel services because of a football game (even if it is only canceling services for our family because we want to stay home and watch “the big game”)? Does that not tell them that it is OK to put other things ahead of God? Does that not teach them that it is OK to put ourselves ahead of others (your brothers and sisters in Christ)?
I believe the same can be said about missing services for other reasons as well. Some folks miss services just because they don’t want to come...really that’s what it always boils down to, isn’t it? If we really want to come, we’ll find a way to attend.
I can hear the objections, gnashing of teeth, and anger of people. “The Bible doesn’t say anything about having to come to church TWICE on Sunday! So you can’t tell me that I HAVE to be here on any Sunday night...let alone that one special Sunday night when they play the ‘Big Game’! Preacher, you’re trying to bind your opinion as if it were God’s law and that’s not right!”
The Bible does teach that the first century Christians assembled as often as they could on every day of the week (i.e. “day by day,” Acts 2:46).
The Bible does teach that we are to submit to the elders leadership and make their work a joy, not a burden (see Hebrews 13:17).
The Bible does teach that we are not to give up meeting together, as some are already in the habit of doing, but to encourage one another (see Hebrews 10:25).
The Bible does teach that we are to make God (and our service to Him) our number one priority (see, for example, Luke 14:26-27).
The question simply is what is your top priority? Is your top priority God, who loves you so much He gave His Son to die for you? Or is your top priority a sports team/league who really doesn’t even know that you exist?