Ask A Pastor: Why Do We Gather As A Church Twice For Worship On Sunday?
I was talking to a friend about why I go to church twice a week, and why not once. My question is why go twice, why not once? Or even three times? I think we should WANT to go to church and learn so why not go more often? And why do some churches choose to only have one service?
Let me begin by answering your first question: “Why go twice, why not once? Or even three times?”
Why Go To Church Twice Every Sunday?
Worshiping God in His house twice each Lord’s Day is not a matter of tradition, but rather is rooted in the Word of God. At creation, God Himself established the pattern of worshiping Him both morning and evening. Every morning and evening, during the cool of the day, there would be a blessed worship encounter between God and Adam and Eve. Since this was the pattern for every day, God most certainly intended it to be the pattern for the seventh day of rest.
After the fall, God perpetuated that pattern by instituting the morning and evening sacrifice, which were to be observed on all seven days of the week—and thus also on the seventh day of rest.
This pattern, rooted in creation and established by God Himself, must govern our worship until Christ returns. Therefore the proper observance of the Lord’s Day requires our attendance at the morning (AM) and evening (PM) worship services. Attending the evening service is thus not optional, for the proper and biblical observance of the Lord’s Day requires it.
This divinely instituted structure of public worship on the Sabbath (= rest)—and thus also on the Lord’s Day as the NT Sabbath—is affirmed in Psalm 92, which has the inspired title “A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath Day.” It then stipulates, as God’s revealed will, that our public activity of thanking and praising the LORD should consist of the following: “To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night” (v. 2).
This AM and PM pattern of worship was also remarkably endorsed by the Lord Jesus Christ who, as the Lamb of God, sanctioned the morning and evening sacrifice by permitting Himself to be crucified at the third hour (9 AM), and then crying out, “It is finished” and giving up the ghost at the ninth hour (3 PM).
He thereby paved the way for us to now worship God without the shedding of blood. We do so especially on the Lord’s Day when we worship God on the basis of the finished work of Christ—accomplished on the cross, affirmed by His resurrection, and applied by His intercession at God’s right hand. What abundant reason we have, therefore, to show forth His lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness every night! We should relish the opportunity to do so each Lord’s Day.
Why Do Some Churches Meet Only Once?
Now your second question: “Why do some churches choose to only have one service?”
I fear that many churches have caved in to the relentless encroachment of our culture that views Sunday as day of recreation and entertainment. Regretfully many church members now view the Lord’s Day as their day—a day of physical rest and a family day. Therefore, they will conveniently skip the second service of the Lord’s Day. As this is increasingly becoming the norm, many churches, rather than bucking this trend, are simply opting to permanently canceling the second service.
Such a compromise proceeds from a failure to understand that God has explicitly set apart the Sabbath (= rest) day as a holy or sacred day—a consecrated day that belongs exclusively to God. Thus, when God calls us to rest after six days of labor, He simultaneously calls us to engage on His (!) day in the sacred activity prescribed by Him: “The seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation [i.e. public worship]; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD [emphasis mine—BE] in all your dwellings [i.e. private worship] (Lev. 23:3).
We therefore may not observe the Lord’s Day as we see fit. God speaks clear language when He instructs us that on His Day we are to refrain “from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD” (Isa. 58:13-14).