Why Evening Service Is Good for You


In my final year of seminary I did a lot of pulpit supply to the various churches in the Michigan Classis. Sometimes I served as pulpit supply for both morning service and evening service, and when that was the case, I typically saw poorer attendance in the evening service. Furthermore, this is not an isolated problem. Churches across the URCNA federation and churches from other denominations that have evening service often report poorer attendance for evening service. This is something that ministers, elders, deacons, and many members are concerned about, and honestly, it is something that needs to be addressed. Therefore, I offer you this article in the hopes to persuade you of the good of evening service, with the result that you faithfully attend and sit under the preaching of God’s Word in both the morning and evening.

However, before I really get into this, I want to write a few caveats. I know that there are many different reasons for missing evening service, and they cannot all be lumped together. For some people, their own physical safety is the reason behind missing evening service. As the days get shorter and the evenings get darker, it becomes problematic for some of you to be out driving at night. Some of you cannot attend because you work in the medical field or in law enforcement, and so sometimes you must work on Sunday. These have been called works of necessity since it is necessary there always be those working to care for the sick or to enforce the law even on Sunday.1 Some of you do not work those works of necessity on Sunday but are forced to work Sunday evenings against your wishes, and perhaps you have even had to greatly argue for having Sunday morning off in order to worship. I worked in retail before receiving the call to ministry, and so I know how difficult it can be to get even Sunday mornings off. If you fall into any of these categories, and that is your reason for missing evening service, I have no wish to lay any burden on you. I would merely encourage you to do all you can so as not to miss evening service. If you are afraid to drive at night, try to find a ride. If work is stopping you from attending, speak with your manager and do all you can to have the whole day off. However, it may be that these are things that are out of your control, and that is something I am quite sure our God is aware of.

Further, I want to be clear and transparent and write that after all of my study, after all the verses that I’ve read, considered, and parsed out, I do not think that there is a verse that demands that we go to church in the morning and the evening. That said, we cannot make absence or attendance a matter of sin or obedience. However, and I want you to really and honestly consider this carefully, while there may be no command that explicitly demands that you attend morning and evening worship, I don’t want you to think that evening service is a simple take it or leave it sort of thing. While it may be that there is no command that says you must attend morning and evening worship, everything in Scripture tells us that there is great profit and benefit in worship. That alone should give us reason to seriously pause when we take it upon ourselves to miss evening service. To illustrate this, there is no command in Scripture that a husband frequently spends quality time with his wife, but it is certainly to his advantage if he does. Likewise, there is no command that you must attend both service on the Lord’s Day, but everything in Scripture tells you that it is to your advantage that you do so. Scripture gives us good arguments for having two services and for attending both of them.

Arguments for Evening Service

“It’s the Pattern”

In the first place, we find a consistent pattern of morning and evening sacrifices in the Old Testament. For instance, there is a command in Numbers 28 for a morning and evening sacrifice of a lamb. We find that Psalm 92 is a psalm for the Sabbath day (no other psalm has this description, by the way), and it speaks of the people of God declaring the Lord’s lovingkindness in the morning and his faithfulness by night. Again, here is a reference to morning and evening “services.” It is difficult to dispute that the children of Israel, on the Sabbath, were to worship the Lord both morning and evening.

When we get to the New Testament, we find similar things. We do not find a command to have evening and morning worship, but there are indications that the church did meet in the evening. Paul in Acts 20 meets with the believers in Iconium, and it appears that Paul preaches and breaks bread, speaking even until midnight. Again, while not a command, it appears to be the apostolic practice that the church would meet at night. Also, keep in mind the cultural context of the first-century church.

It was a well-established practice that the Jewish synagogues had morning and evening services, and Christians continued to attend services in the synagogue for quite some time in the first century.2 It should not surprise us that as Christians were kicked out of the synagogue, they would nonetheless take some of the most basic customs with them, such as morning and evening services.

The earliest post-apostolic documents seem to hint at this. Pliny the Younger writes to the Roman emperor Trajan at around AD 112 and says that Christians gathered together early in the morning, dismissed, and then came together again to break bread later that evening.3 This pattern is continued into the ancient church, the medieval church, and the churches of the Reformation. The idea of an evening service is nothing new or inventive; it has long been the practice of the church. While no evening service commanded, we see that the church has long put a high premium on evening worship, and so to thoughtless disregard and dismiss evening worship as unnecessary is not prudent to say the least.

It’s Helpful to Keep the Day

Second, evening service helps us to remember the Lord’s Day, not merely the Lord’s morning. Our confession as Reformed Christians is that the fourth commandment tells us that one day in seven is set apart to the Lord. Leviticus 23:3, in expounding the fourth commandment, tells the nation that the Sabbath day is a day of no work, a day of complete rest, and a day of holy convocation. If our Reformed confession is that Sunday is the Sabbath day, or the festive day of rest,4 then our Reformed practice would tell us to observe this day as belonging to the Lord. Since we believe that this day is set apart unto the Lord, evening service becomes helpful and profitable to the end of keeping this day set apart to the Lord. It helps us to remember that the whole day, morning and afternoon, belongs to the Lord. Evening service reminds us that Sunday is a day where we rest from our labors in order that we may meet with our God.

Now, with that, let me ask you a bold question. When you skip the evening worship, what are you doing with that time? A few weeks ago, Ligonier released a video with various speakers (Drs. Michael Horton, W. Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, and Derek Thomas) answering various questions. In this video the question was put to Dr. Godfrey, asking if there is any biblical warrant for evening worship.5 Dr. Godfrey replied with a question of his own that really cut to the heart of the issue. He plainly and boldly asked those skipping the evening service what they were doing with that time. And that is the same question I would ask you. Now perhaps you are seriously digging into the Bible all evening; perhaps you are diligently catechizing your children. If that is the case, to use the words of Dr. Godfrey, I don’t really want to criticize that. However, the reality tends to be that the evening time is used in such a way that looks no different from Saturday or any other evening. This day is set apart, that’s our confession; does your practice match that confession? Evening service is a help for us to keep the day set apart, a help to make this day about worshiping and meeting with our God.

It’s Helpful to Our Spiritual Health

Third, evening service is helpful for our spiritual health. Why do I say that? Again, I ask, what is our confession as Reformed Christians? Our confession is that the preaching of the gospel and the sacraments are the means of grace.6 As Reformed Christians, we believe that the preaching of God’s Word and the administration of the sacraments are the means by which God points us again and again to Christ, to his one sacrifice, to his faithfulness. We find that it was through the preaching of God’s living and enduring Word that Peter’s audience were born again in 1 Peter 1:23–25. We read in 2 Timothy 3:16–17 that the Word of God is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, and that it is by the Word of God that one is equipped for every good work. We read in places like Romans 4 that the sacraments are signs and seals that confirm our faith in Jesus Christ. The Word and the sacraments are vital for our spiritual health.

When someone wants to get better at something, whether it is a certain sport, learning a language, or anything else, what is needed? Practice! It’s doing the same thing again and again. There’s a requirement to put in time and effort to grow.7 Do you want to grow in your faith? The chief means by which God works in our hearts, by which he grows our faith, by which we grow in our sanctification is through the preaching of the Word and the sacraments. Morning service exposes you to these things, and so does evening service. When it comes to our faith, when it comes to preaching, Scripture reading, worshiping our God, fellowshipping with saints of like faith, and the like, these things are not like Charmin toilet paper: less is not more. More is more.

Objections to Evening Service

“It’s a Burden”

In giving these arguments for evening service, I would like to anticipate some common objections against it as well. The first objection that is more often than not at the heart of one not wanting to attend worship is that they look at worship as a burden. There are different reasons for people calling evening service a burden. Sometimes it is the actual coming or driving to evening service that people consider to be a burden. Sometimes people just don’t want to get ready to go to church again. Often, people think of it as a burden because not only do they have to get ready again, but they have to help their children get ready again too.

But the answer I would give is that worship is certainly not a burden. This is a special day, a festive day of rest! That is what the psalmist says in Psalm 92. Do we read it is a burden to give thanks to the Lord, to sing his praises morning and evening? No! It is good. Good to give thanks to the Lord. It is good to sing his praises. It is good to declare his lovingkindness in the morning. It is good to declare his faithfulness by night. Dear reader, corporate worship has no equal! There is something special about it, something heavenly about it, something that we cannot explain about it. As we gather together in Christ’s name he is present in a special way. He is in the midst of us in a spiritual way, an inexplicable way. It is a place where we worship our God and where our God in a special way shares his love and grace with his children. I don’t think we can classify that as a burden.

“It’s My Time”

The second objection is an objection that we may not hear, but it is an objection that is held in the hearts of many. It is the thought that Sunday evening is “my time.” The idea is that they have this time off from work, and they did their duty in attending morning worship, but as far as evening goes, it is something that is meant to be for them. This may express itself in planning Sunday evening to be a time of hobbies, a time of television, a time of various personal pleasures.

This is indeed a common objection, “Sunday evening is my time! It’s for me!” And my answer to that, “You’re right! This is time for you. Just not in the way you think it is!” Jesus is clear, this day was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. But again, I ask you the question, how was this day made for man? It wasn’t made for you in order to do anything and everything. That’s not what the Scriptures tell us. We find from the command in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5 that this is a day to rest from our labors in order to remember the redemption that we have only in Jesus Christ. This is a day of rest and worship. A day of complete rest and of solemn convocation. This is by far the best thing for us. You’re Sunday evenings are your time, they are for your benefit, but the way that God has designed this day would be that you would receive the greatest benefit in communing with God himself and with saints of like faith.

“It’s Family Time”

The third objection I often hear is that Sunday evening is family time. Rather than go worship corporately, some think that it is better to instead stay at home and spend time with their family, whether immediate family or extended family. I understand that for many there are long-held traditions that are valued deeply, and to go to evening service would mean that these traditions would have to be broken.

It is indeed a common objection, “Sunday evening is family time!” And my answer to that, “You’re right! This is family time. Just not in the way you think it is.” Is the church not a Christian family? Are we not spiritual brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers? Didn’t even Christ identify his followers in this way? In Matthew 12 we read that while Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers come to see Christ. And those around Christ tell him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside to speak to you.” Then Christ gives a shocking statement that would have been almost unthinkable in his first-century Middle Eastern context: “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” Then stretching out his hands to his disciples he said, “Behold My mother and brothers! Whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Such words would have been a complete shocker to this culture where family was considered to be extremely important, even more so than we value family.

Your blood relatives are important, but Christ indicates to us that we can have even greater closeness with our faith family, Christians are blood relatives, we are relatives by the blood of Christ. Let us enjoy this day with Christ our Savior and with those that Christ has joined us to by his blood.

“I’m Tired”

Fourth and finally, sometimes the objection against coming to evening service is that “I’m tired!” I don’t discount the fact that many of us are tired. I know what it’s like to work, to be in school, and to have a young family all at the same time. I know that the temptation that comes with these things on Sunday afternoons: “You’re tired, you’ve had a long week, surely it is no big deal to miss evening service.”

It is a common objection, “I’m tired, so I will not be there.” And my answer is, “You’re right! You very well could be tired. I know you’re tired. That’s why you should come both morning and evening.” I find it interesting that the text in Hebrews 10:25 that tells us that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves, as is the habit of some, is the same text that tells us that in our assembling of ourselves we stimulate one another to love and good works (v. 24). Our assemblings are meant to function as a safe haven, as an oasis in dry land. In this pilgrimage, we do get tired; our faith is pulled and strained under all the responsibilities we have and with all that we do. It is easy to become burned out, to be burned out of love, to be burned out of doing good works. It is easy to be tired and exhausted, and the solution is not the avoidance of corporate worship but coming to corporate worship. It is in corporate worship that we are stimulated to love and good works by considering the love and works of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is here that our weary souls are told to look to and lean on Christ and find rest! Are you tired? Then come to the oasis that is corporate worship where you are stimulated and energized to love and good works.

Applications for Evening Service

Come Thoughtfully

Finally, I want to also give some final applications for attending evening service because the goal is not merely entering through the church doors and then just sitting in the pew, taking up space. That will be of no profit to you. Therefore, I would first want to emphasize that in attending evening (or morning) worship that we come thoughtfully.

What that means is that we come into the sanctuary, and we try as little as possible to be on autopilot. We come in, and we want to hear and consider the call to worship, our vow, God’s greeting to us, the meaning of the songs that we sing together. It means we come thoughtfully to the Word of God ready and eager to hear the Word and engage with its meaning and application. It means that when we sing the doxology that we understand that we really are singing a song of glory to our Triune God, and that when we receive the benediction, our God really is sending us with his blessing.

Shortly after Jesus’ triumphal entry, some Greeks had made their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. They came to Philip and had said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus!” Greeks, not born into the covenant community, coming to Philip with a singular focus. “O disciple, O Philip, we wish to see Jesus! We wish to sit at his feet. We wish to hear him teach us!” Dear reader, come thoughtfully and have these same thoughts as the Greeks: “O pastor, show us Jesus, show us his teachings! Show us his Word! Especially show us the gospel!” Let us come thoughtfully.

Come Consistently

Finally, come consistently. I write this because it may be that you try evening service for a week or two, lose your conviction or interest about this matter, and then go back to the way things were before. My encouragement to you would be come to morning and evening worship for three months, and see how God will bless you through this sort of thoughtful attendance. See how it helps you to grow, adjusts your view of the Lord’s Day, and gives you the rest, strength, and nourishment that you need.

Is it a sin to miss evening service? No. Is it a profitable thing to attend evening service? Most definitely. It is where you meet with your faith family and corporately meet with your God. It is where you confess the Christian faith with the saints of all ages in the Apostles’ Creed; it is where we read the Psalms together; it is where God again expounds his Word to us; it is where our God again blesses us and gives us his benediction. O dear reader, why would you want to miss that?

1. See the Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 60.

2. R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008), 338.

3. Constantine E. Pritchard and Edward R. Bernard, eds., Selected Letters of Pliny the Younger (Oxford: Clarendon, 1896), 124.

4. See Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103.

5. For the video, see https://www.ligonier. org/learn/conferences/next-500-years-2017- national-conference/questions-answers-2/starting at 30:23.

6. See Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 25.

7. See

Rev Phillip Stoffregen is pastor of Covenant United Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, MI.