Forgive me for being old fashioned. I know, I’m a few years from my sixties and my hair is gray, but I would contend that I work hard to be current. I pastor a church with strong worship that appeals to all ages (you should see the hundreds of young people who are in our church, raising their hands, coming to the altar, and worshiping God). I would say we are connecting with the next generation. They fill one of our front sections on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights.
I believe we do a few things that are cutting edge: Legacy Park, where literally hundreds gather each week for sports ministries. We have a little ministry called Sherwood Pictures which demands 1,500 volunteers when we are filming. We have “full service” ministry for all ages. So, I feel confident we are reaching across generational and racial lines to make an impact in our Jerusalem.
This year we will have sent thirteen mission teams across the states and to foreign countries. We have hosted two ReFRESH(tm) conferences, camps, and multiple concerts. Our calendar gives evidence of a church that is active and alive.
Now that I’ve set you up, let me tell you why I’m out of touch. In fact, if you listen to the “experts” and even to pastors, you would think our whole church is out of touch. It would seem, by listening to some, we are hicks from South Georgia who haven’t gotten with the times. They must think we have to pump daylight in from Atlanta. I’ve been told what we are doing doesn’t work. Funny, our people don’t seem to agree.
I’ve been told that people won’t come. Interestingly enough, they do. Surprisingly (here it comes), our Sunday night service is the best service we have. Obviously, we have people who never come back on Sunday night, but if you want a taste of why God is blessing Sherwood, you need look no further than our Sunday night services.
I know, the trends and surveys say Sunday nights are old fashioned. To be honest, I get nauseated reading tweets from pastors who preach on Sunday morning and then devote the rest of the Lord’s Day to playing golf or watching football. Are they so busy they can’t do two messages a week? I hear guys bragging on killing Sunday night services. I wonder how that will sound on Judgment Day?
No, Sunday nights are not in the Bible. If we were biblical, we would gather “daily” as they did in Acts. In the biography of Bertha Smith she talks about three hours of daily prayer for revival in China. That’s another thing we’ve laid aside or watered down–prayer meeting. Churches either don’t have a prayer meeting or they water it down and make it nothing more than an organ recital (Sister Sue’s toes, Larry’s liver, Gail’s gall bladder). Rarely do you see a church with a prayer meeting for the lost and backslidden or for revival. But I digress…
I realize some churches are planning “good things” during Sunday nights. At least they are doing something. But where is the voice of the shepherd to his sheep? Where is the clarion call from the man of God for the sheep to follow the narrow road? Where is the investment in the remnant who want to go deeper and are weary of “how to get right with your wife, goldfish, neighbors, boss, kids, and pet snake”? Where’s the Scripture? Where’s the Word of God from the man of God to the people of God for the glory of God?
I believe we have shallow churches because our Bible studies can be shallow. You can’t take people deep in one message a week. You can’t call the core to Christlikeness in 30 minutes out of 168 hours in a week.
I hear, “Sunday night is family night.” For the love of everything that is holy, why? Oh, I know. It’s because we are doing everything but that which makes us holy. Saturday can’t be family night because that’s when dad burps his way through his Alma Mater’s game with a cold drink and chips in his lap. Friday night can’t be family night because we’re too tired. So, even with the encouragement of some leaders in the Christian community, we’ve given Sunday nights over to the devil. The American church prides itself in giving God small tips and leftovers.
Just remember, what you do in moderation your children will do in excess. If church is only important to you for what you can get out of it, it probably won’t even be important to your kids when they are your age. You are teaching them to love God halfheartedly. You are modeling something that doesn’t please the Master.
On Sunday nights, we average 800 in attendance. We begin the night with the “House of Prayer” and several hundred gather each week to pray. Our Sunday nights are my favorite service. I would miss Sunday morning before I would miss Sunday night. So here’s my closing thought: what’s important to the pastor will be important to the people. What you are passionate about, they will become increasingly passionate about. I’d rather preach on Sunday nights at Sherwood than preach in any conference or convention in this land. It’s one of the sweetest, richest times of my week. Why? Over half of our people come back on Sunday night. It’s a great way to finish the Lord’s Day.
I may be out of touch, but I feel a touch from heaven every Sunday night at Sherwood. What kind of touch do you feel at the end of the Lord’s Day?