It’s not an uncommon question to ask. Why DO churches meet on Wednesdays? Even though the larger crowds attend on Sundays, many churches, especially of the Protestant evangelical persuasion, continue doing a service in the middle of the week. So, in this post let’s ask and give an answer to the question.
Many churches have traditional met on Wednesday evenings for a variety of reasons. Many times this Wednesday service was and still is called “Prayer Meeting.” However, today you will also find Wednesday meetings for large and small group Bible studies, student gatherings, and children’s ministry activities. Although, in general, a majority of churchgoers do not regularly attend on Wednesday evenings. However, the various types of Wednesday church activities can help encourage and strengthen a person in their faith.
When Did Wednesday Church begin?
Why do churches meet on Wednesdays History seems to indicate that Wednesday evening church meetings may have their roots in prayer meetings that took place even before 1800. Some of this may be attributed to the efforts of evangelists like Charles Finney and the great D. L. Moody. In addition to Reverend Moody’s preaching campaigns, he was known to organize noon prayer services.
In the mid-1850s there was a spiritual revival known as the Prayer Meeting Revival. By 1900, prayer sessions or mid-week services had become fairly commonplace among evangelical and Protestant churches. However, by the time the mid-nineteenth century came around, many churches had largely replaced the mid-week service prayer emphasis with a Bible teaching or preaching service.
Are Wednesday Night Church Services Necessary?
This is a conversation where there are opinions all across the board. In earlier times, Wednesday night church services seem to thrive more so than they do now. With the pace of life seemingly becoming faster and faster, churches begin to find it much harder to get people to attend on Wednesday evenings.
Many church leaders tend to think that a church member will be spiritually encouraged on a Sunday, but by the middle of the week, they need a bit of a spiritual boost to help them through the week. There is nothing that we can find in scripture to support the Wednesday night approach, and there isn’t anything that says that it shouldn’t be done either.
In my childhood and in my days as a younger man I remember quite a bit of excitement about midweek services. Especially for those churches in the south and those who were a part of the “Bible Belt” there was quite a bit of emphasis was put on those Wednesday evening events. While there were some churches who tried to stay with a more traditional prayer service at midweek, it seemed that most used the Wednesday service time for specialty programs.
These types of Wednesday evening programs began to include service or activity times of children, teenagers, as well as a time Bible study and/or prayer for the Adult congregants. Many Southern Baptist churches adopted the Wednesday evening time as a format to teach about missionary work, nationally and internationally, and encouraged persons of every age group to be supportive of the cause of ministering to others around the world.
There would be a nursery for infants and toddlers, then children’s activities, teenager programs, and then the adults would either meet in one large group or the small groups as mentioned before.
Why Do Churches Meet On Wednesdays? Many Still Do.
There are still quite a number of evangelical, protestant churches that still have Wednesday evening services at their church. You will find quite a number of them in the Bible Belt a section of mostly southern states who have quite conservative and protestant values. Many of these churches are those who have held on to the long-standing tradition for decades and decades. A survey done by Lifeway Research of the Southern Baptist Convention said that as many as 9 in 10 Protestant pastors said that their church has some sort of church activity on Wednesday evening. However, the vast majority of church attenders or nonchurch attendees do not have a Wednesday evening worship service as a part of their life experience.
As a former staff minister for several churches all four of the churches that I served were quite adamant about promoting Wednesday evening activities. If a church has ever had a Wednesday evening service it tends to stay with it for many years, or perhaps for the life of that particular church. Some of the very large churches, sometimes referred to as megachurches tend to forgo a midweek service and put most of their resources into getting staffing and volunteers for what is usually multiple worship service times on Sundays.
You can’t actually lump all of the churches into one category, but as a whole, the overall attendance
Current Activities of Wednesday Evening Church Gatherings
For the many churches who still have some type of Wednesday evening service or activities, as you see, the chart shows us most of them will include some type of Adult Small groups for Bible Study. There can be many positive aspects of using Wednesday evenings for Adult small groups. An adult small group provides people the opportunity for people to learn the Bible and share together in an informal and less intimidating setting where learning and encouragement can take place together.
Of course, providing adult Wednesday programming must include children’s and student ministry activities. For many churches, the Wednesday evening time has become one of, if not the primary, worship time for teenagers. In the more contemporary churches, this student gathering may have worship singers and a band leading the music portion of the service followed by the student pastor or volunteer giving a talk or sermon directed toward that age group.
The number of churches that reported that prayer was still a very important part of their Wednesday evening gatherings was under 50%, but not as low as one might have thought given all of the other activities that churches have begun to do on Wednesdays.
There is also a significant number of churches that have their choir or music rehearsal on Wednesday evenings. Once again, as to my own experience, every church that I served in almost 40 years had their choir rehearsals on Wednesday evenings. For example, the Adult Bible studies, student services, or children’s activities might begin around 6:30 pm or so in the evening with choir rehearsal taking place when those activities were over around 7:30 or 8:00 pm.
Pros and Cons of Having Wednesday Evening Services
Well, many would argue that there are very few cons to having an additional opportunity for someone to go to their place of worship. One common argument that certainly has a lot of merits is – that, considering the modern 21st-century person’s schedule, if you can feasibly provide them additional worship time alternatives then you can give more people an opportunity to worship and learn.
This point of view has a lot of merits. Obviously, if you open up Wednesday evening as an additional opportunity to minister to your congregation it will enable you to offer them more programming that you might not have time for on the typical Sunday morning.
However, we must be careful in our outlook and expectations for these Wednesday events. Today’s schedules and activities of our society are much more complicated and hectic than they were when the Wednesday evening service tradition was begun.
In a practical manner of speaking most church members are usually not going to be attending on Wednesday evening on a regular basis. For example, I have been in churches where the Wednesday starting time for all activities – preschool-Adults was somewhere between 6:00 pm and 6:30 pm.
Whereas a single person or even a couple who gets off of work might grab a quick dinner and get to church on time, a family with 3 or 4 kids may have a bit more difficulty. If the mom or dad gets off at a later time – maybe 5:30 or 6:00, has to get the children, get home, feed everyone, and make it to church by 6:30 – well, it may not happen. There are a lot of families in that situation.
The notion about which we need to be careful is that we don’t use Wednesday evening attendance as some sort of bar of spiritual maturity. I can be, and has been done before. ‘Well, it’s our really dedicated people who come on Wednesday evenings.” Certainly, that statement can be partially true, but just because a person or family makes the decision that Wednesday evening attendance is not going to be a part of their weekly schedule doesn’t at all mean that they are less spiritually mature because of it.
That is something for each individual or each family to decide. So, when undue pressure is put on families to “make it church on Wednesday” it can provide stress on a family that is not needed.
Although I think it’s a good thing if a person participates in a midweek church service or Bible Study, it certainly shouldn’t be because of manipulation, guilt, or pressure put on the person by others in the church, especially the church ministers.
Wednesday evening church service was added in a time and for a reason that is good. For churches and families who want to engage in and continue the practice of attending some kind of Wednesday evening church service, it can be an encouraging and uplifting time with other people of your faith.
However, if you are consistent in your faith and in your church attendance, and for schedule purposes or other reasons you choose not to attend your church on Wednesdays, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the Bible to condemn you for that.
Look to, and allow God to speak to you about the number and times of church attendance. The Bible does tell us that we should not neglect meeting with others of our faith on a regular basis for instruction, teaching, training, worship, etc. Most teachers believe that this includes the regular Sunday morning worship in some form.
However, for Wednesday evenings, let that be a decision that you and your God make as you learn to listen to Him.
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