Ask Your Preacher
There seems to be a growing debate in regards to whether or not there should be an evening worship service, which apparently was instituted during World War Two for those who had to work Sunday mornings. Some feel we have become bound to a tradition and feel that those members who regularly miss morning worship, whether or not work related, are being catered to, and if they chose to miss morning worship for whatever reason, it is a choice they made for themselves and shouldn’t affect other members.
However, some members bind the attendance of evening worship as forsaking the assembly. Yet, attending only in the evening appears excused and to the point that evening worship services have become, for the most part, mandatory. Consequently, the choice or necessity that morning worshippers occasionally miss evening worship seems the greater transgression. This is especially problematic for members who must drive a considerable distance to attend worship.
This issue has hit home with me, although it’s not the disapproval of my church family I am feeling. I attend both evening and morning worship regularly; I’m always there for Bible studies and know the importance of loving and encouraging my brothers and sisters. But on the rare occasion that I have missed evening worship, unless it was absolutely unavoidable, I have felt bad, like I have done something displeasing to God. Jesus talked about the error of imposed Jewish laws and traditions not specified by God. Is this a modern day version? I would greatly appreciate your input because I would rather not do anything that violates my conscience unnecessarily. Thank you.
Checking My Attendance
Dear Checking My Attendance,
We really appreciate your attitude and desire to do what is right. This is an issue that thousands of, if not all, saints struggle with. When is it appropriate to miss services? To answer your question, we need to look at two verses: Rev 1:10 and Heb 10:25.
Having two services on Sunday is merely an expediency. Nowhere in the Scriptures are the saints required to meet twice on Sunday – however, there is a reason that most congregations have multiple services. The reason our group has a morning and an evening worship is because Sunday is called “the Lord’s day”. That term is found in Rev 1:10 and is almost universally agreed by commentators to refer to Sunday because that is the day that the Lord arose from the grave, and it is the day that God commanded His saints to commemorate Christ’s death (Acts 20:7). What is Sunday to a christian? It is a day given to the Lord. It doesn’t say “the Lord’s half-hour” or “the Lord’s morning” – it says “the Lord’s day“. There is a principle there. God intends for us to mentally set that day aside for spiritual things. Unlike the Jewish Sabbath, christians aren’t prohibited from working on Sundays or doing other things, but we still have a principle of devoting that day as a day for spiritual things. After all, the Old Testament Sabbath existed for the spiritual needs of men (Mk 2:27), and it isn’t like those spiritual needs have gone away just because we aren’t Jewish. For clarification, Sunday isn’t a new Sabbath, but we can take some principles from Old Testament examples (1 Cor 10:6). It isn’t wrong for a christian to work on Sunday, but it also isn’t right for a christian to disregard the Bible design of Sunday as the Lord’s day.
The other primary verse to consider is Heb 10:25. We are commanded to “not forsake the assembly”. The word ‘forsake’ means ‘to desert, abandon, or leave behind’. This verse is sometimes misused to say that if you miss even a single class or service, you are sinning – that isn’t the case. Forsaking something is more than just a single absence; it is an attitude of desertion. Heb 10:25 says that those who had forsaken the church assembly had made a custom out of it – it was their habit. When our priorities change and the church is no longer important to us and the Lord’s day is no longer a priority, then we have forsaken the assembly. To forsake the assembly requires a devaluation of worship in our lives and in our hearts. What we do consistently is a window into our hearts. We are known by the fruit we bear (Matt 7:16). If a brother begins to scale back his attendance, it will legitimately raise eyebrows on caring brethren because attendance decline is a consistent indication that someone is having spiritual problems. People have a zillion different reasons (sickness, travel, family emergencies, work, car trouble, etc.) for missing services… sometimes those excuses are sincere, and sometimes they are a cover up for dodging our responsibilities to the Lord. Not everyone that misses a service is spiritually weak, but spiritually weak people miss services. However, you mentioned that you rarely miss services, and it is not a consistent part of your behavior – therefore, those concerns wouldn’t apply to you as long as you can honestly say that your priorities are where they ought to be. Asking the question, “Did I have a legitimate reason to miss evening services?” is a healthy part of self-examination… something we should all do (Gal 6:4, 1 Cor 11:28).
I read so much about prayer, how to pray so that God hears you, how not to pray, what is right, what is wrong... I am so confused. I am a christian and believe in God with all my heart. Being European, I have a hard time getting into American churches and do not feel comfortable. I’d rather read my Bible at home and pray in the solitude of my home. I have been praying for so many years and cannot seem to get an answer. It seems that my heart and soul doubt my own faith, and I am scared. I prayed to God to lead the way, help me how to pray, and wish nothing more than to be happy again after many betrayals. How can I pray right? Is it not enough that my heart speaks to God, and He knows my pain? I am in that storm, and I am sad almost every day. I am blessed with two wonderful children and two grandchildren, but still I feel that I do not belong on this earth and slowly am losing my will to love. Where is a chapter in the Bible that gives me hope?
Dear Dwindling Away,
Sometimes the things we are most uncomfortable doing are the very things that are missing in our lives. Nobody likes to get shots, but that needle is delivering needed medicine to the body. You are comfortable praying, you are comfortable reading your Bible, but you say that you are uncomfortable going to church services. You are losing your will to love… and God says that assembling with the saints is what provokes our love (Heb 10:24-25). You feel alone, and it is the church that God uses to surround us and make us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves (Eph 4:16). You feel like you don’t belong, and God says the church is what makes us part of a family (Eph 2:19). God has already answered your prayer by showing you in His Word what will make you whole – join a faithful church. Let us help you find a congregation in your area that will help you become the christian the Lord intends for you to be. E-mail us at email@example.com, and we will be happy to help you meet with other people who love the Lord just like you do.
Is it wrong to go to another church for Bible class if you are not getting anything out of your own Bible class? The Bible class that I attend is very uplifting and encouraging. I retain more and get a better understanding, and my husband enjoys it.
Feeling Kinda Guilty
Dear Feeling Kinda Guilty,
There is nothing wrong with attending another congregation for Bible class as long as you are making sure to test what they are saying against the Bible (1 Jn 4:1) and making sure that wherever you attend is faithful to God's Word. You might read our post, “Finding A Church”, on how to find a church using Bible principles. That article might help you weigh the pros and cons of these two congregations.
I had a preacher to explain to me that it is more important to pay your association dues than to help elderly people in need at the church. Is this what tithing and offering is all about? I looked in my Bible, but I can’t seem to locate what tithing and offering is and what GOD said it was for. Help me, please.
Writing The Check
Dear Writing The Check,
That preacher is wrong on so many accounts. First of all, there are no such things as “association dues” in the Lord’s church. In the New Testament, christians are supposed to give cheerfully and voluntarily (2 Cor 9:7). There is no set amount that we are supposed to give; we are simply told to give as we have prospered every first day of the week (1 Cor 16:1-2). Tithing (‘tithe’ means ‘ten percent’) is an Old Testament command that Jews had to follow, not a New Testament one for christians. Jews were required to give ten percent, but christians are never given specifics.
As for saying that it is more important to pay your association dues than to help elderly people in need – that is the sort of thing Jesus said that a greedy, false teacher would say (Lk 20:47).
I was married for twenty years, and we separated due to another female in church; I prayed that our marriage would not end and we would reconcile. But that didn't happen; we were divorced, and he remarried after two weeks. Can you tell me why my prayers were not answered? And why they committed adultery, lied, and even stole from the church but still think that what they did was not wrong? Thank you.
God desires for all of us to purify our hearts and minds and turn from sin, but He also gives us the freedom to choose for ourselves. God has multiple principles that He must keep in balance at all times. God hears prayers, but He also allows people to decide for themselves whether or not to be righteous or wicked. If God simply forced people to become better people, that would remove our freedom of choice. After all, He tells us that we reap what we sow in this life (Gal 6:7).
We cannot imagine the amount of pain you have been through. It isn’t that God doesn’t hear prayers; it is that your husband chose to do something sinful. God doesn’t like it (Mal 2:16), but as we said, God still respects our freewill. As for how these two people can believe that what they did was okay… sadly, when we choose to do wicked things, it can sear our conscience (1 Tim 4:2), and people rationalize all sorts of sinful behavior because they “feel” it is right. Every man believes he is right in his own eyes, but in the end, the Lord makes a just judgment (Pr 21:2).