This evening, my family was blessed to visit a local congregation where my father was asked to be a guest speaker for their evening service. This is a congregation that is not too far from our house, so I have visited there several times in the past. Usually, it is for Gospel Meetings, youth rallies, or other special events. Apparently I had never been there for a Sunday evening service because they did something I had never seen at another congregation before…and it was wonderful.
At most congregations, the Sunday evening services are very similar in structure to the Sunday morning services. Other than maybe the contents of the lesson, it’s likely a pretty comparable service. At many congregations, you will even have the same song leader for both services.
There is typically, however, one major difference between the two: the Lord’s Supper. As part of our worship to God, we remember the Lord’s death every first day of the week (I Corinthians 11:23-25, Acts 20:7). Honestly, it’s the core of why we are even there. I love seeing congregations that put a large focus on the Lord’s Supper instead of it being just a box that’s checked during the service. I recently even read of a congregation that decided it needed to put more focus on the Lord’s supper, so they added a whole hour to their morning worship every Sunday that would be dedicated entirely to focusing their minds and hearts on the communion.
That’s typically on Sunday morning. But what if you had an emergency come up on Sunday morning and were only able to attend the evening services. This is where most of you will typically find a drastic difference in the morning and evening services. Most congregations that have an evening service will in some way offer the Lord’s Supper just in case anyone was not able to attend the morning service. The manner in which that is done varies, and many times it depends upon the size of the congregation. It typically happens at the end of services. At some congregations (and this is more common at larger ones), the Lord’s Supper is provided in a room separate from the main auditorium, and those who wish to participate are asked to make their way to that room during the last song. Another very common approach (and this is more common at smaller congregations) is to ask individuals to either stand or raise their hands if they would like to be served.
I’m honestly not sure that I have even been to a congregation on a Sunday evening where the Lord’s Supper is served at a time other than at the very end of services. So, as we visited this local congregation earlier this evening, imagine my surprise when after the second song, the song leader said, “Please turn to page ### as we prepare our minds for the Lord’s Supper.” I’m not going to lie. My first thought was, “Oh…he thinks this is Sunday morning worship because that’s what everyone says on Sunday morning before you partake of the Lord’s Supper. Poor guy.” I sat perplexed for a moment as it seemed that no one in the congregation seemed caught off guard but me because everyone started singing just like normal. Sure enough, it was a song about the Lord’s crucifixion. At the end of the song, would you believe that two men walked up front and stood behind the table where the communion was prepared? They then asked for anyone who would like to participate to please stand or raise a hand. Then the entire congregation bowed as they gave thanks for the bread.
There was nothing flashy about what was done. Other than the fact that it was done earlier during the service, it was no different from any other Lord’s Supper that I had witnessed on a Sunday evening at a small congregation. However, there was one VERY big difference in my mind. Because of the timing of when it happened, it seemed like it was more of a focus of the worship.
Now, please do not take what I just said the wrong way. I fully agree that it can be accomplished in the manners I mentioned previously. Expediency from the eldership allows for flexibility in the timing and location of the Lord’s Supper during the services.
(I’m going to be careful in the way I say this so as not to offend any congregation who may be doing it a different way that is perfectly scriptural and acceptable. Please understand that these thoughts were a result of me realizing my own shortcomings.)
It was very evident that this congregation did not see the Lord’s Supper during the evening service as an afterthought. On Sunday morning, there is great emphasis placed on the Lord’s Supper at most congregations. I personally tend to focus on it more. When our kids were younger, we would often talk to them about the Lord’s Supper on the way to services and on the way home. “Now, why do we take the Lord’s Supper?” “Because Jesus died!” But you know when it never came up? On the way to or leaving evening services. Have I allowed the Lord’s Supper to become an afterthought on Sunday evening just because I wasn’t participating myself? Even if I am participating, do I still give it the same respect as I do on a Sunday morning?
Maybe tonight made me think differently about it just because it was different. It was a break from the routine, so it caught my attention and made me think. But that’s the problem. Has the Lord’s Supper become routine, even if just on Sunday evening?
If it has, please think differently about it. Find a way to put the Lord’s Supper at the center of your mind. This congregation found a way to do that for me. Ultimately, it’s why we are even there in the first place.