By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Baptist Press recently ran an article from LifeWay Research on whether or not Protestant churches still hold Wednesday night services.
And, they do. In fact, the number is a lot higher than I imagined — nine out of 10 Protestant pastors say their church has some type of service on Wednesday nights, according to the survey. Only 10 percent have no regular events on Wednesday.
Given the fact that some churches no longer have Sunday night services, I am a bit surprised (pleasantly) by the large number of churches that open their doors on Wednesday night.
If at all possible, churches should be open. Churches and their ministers/members are on call 24/7 to meet the needs of hurting people.
Actually, it was the original headline of the BP article that drew me to the story. It read, “Wednesday nights at church still relevant?” We changed the headline on the story on the website because it didn’t answer the question — but I think it’s an important question to consider.
Do we open our church doors on Wednesday nights out of habit or tradition or do we have a purpose in mind when “we have church” regardless of the day or night?
My hope and prayer is that we don’t do it “because we have always done it that way before.” That’s a lame reason for doing anything — church-related or not.
The Bible gives perhaps the best reason for a church opening its doors — “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
If we open our church doors with the goal of always worshiping and praising God, He will show up regardless of the activity.
LifeWay Research noted that six out of 10 churches hold small group Bible study classes on Wednesday night while about 53 percent hold youth activities and 48 percent hold children’s activities. Forty-five percent use Wednesday night for prayer meetings. About a third actually have a planned worship service, according to the research.
All of these activities are “relevant.” Studying God’s Word never goes in vain.
Churches that devote additional time to Bible study will see results. Churches also can’t go wrong in providing activities for children and youth or praying.
I am still a strong proponent of our Southern Baptist missions organizations such as Royal Ambassadors, Girls in Action, Children in Action and Mission Friends. Only eternity will reveal how many boys and girls were called to become missionaries as a result of what they learned in these organizations. It grieves me that many churches no longer offer missions organizations. We have already raised at least one generation and are continuing to raise generations that do not understand who Southern Baptists are and the importance of the Cooperative Program.
Statistics from the 2018 Annual Church Profile released earlier this year reveal that membership in Southern Baptist Convention churches has dropped below 15 million members for the first time since 1988 and the 14.8 million members are the lowest number since 1987.
It is no coincidence that the significant decline in membership began about the same time the denomination closed the Southern Baptist Brotherhood Commission in the early 1990s and we began to see a de-emphasis on missions organizations, except for Woman’s Missionary Union.
They eventually took over the responsibility for Royal Ambassadors from the North American Mission Board which took over missions education for men and boys when the Brotherhood Commission ceased to exist. During that same time frame (the late 1980s, early 1990s), giving through the Cooperative Program has declined several percentage points.
Didn’t mean to get on a soapbox about missions education but it relates to the relevance of Wednesday night services. That’s when we learned about missions and the Cooperative Program.
So, back to the original question. Are Wednesday night church services still relevant?
Yes. End of discussion.