ATLANTA — It has become obvious that more and more churches are eliminating their Sunday evening worship services. However many churches, including some that no longer have Sunday evening worship, have developed a Wednesday evening time for praise and worship as meaningful and effective.
The midweek worship at First Baptist Church Atlanta attracts hundreds of people. In addition, and the powerful and dynamic sermons proclaimed there by Associate Pastor Anthony George are divinely inspired and spiritually nourishing.
The worship and Bible study at FBA is primarily for adults, because there are a myriad of other activities going on simultaneously with the worship experience in the sanctuary. Many of the activities are for children and youth, but the 200-plus-member adult choir also meets concurrently with the worship service.
Rodney Brooks, minister of music/worship pastor at First Baptist, generally begins the service accompanied by a talented vocal team and praise band at 6:45. He is able to conclude his part of the service in time to direct the choir rehearsal at 7 p.m.
As the people from a myriad of backgrounds and from all walks of life gather, the fellowship is convivial and the worshippers sing enthusiastically as if God were paying special attention to the songs they were singing from their voices and the melody they were making from their hearts.
The people appear to come on Wednesday evenings with a hunger for truth and righteousness. They listen to George’s sermons, captivated by every word. Periodically, they respond with choruses of “amens” and “hallelujahs.” There is a long line of people perfectly willing to wait for an hour or longer if necessary to speak to Dr. George after he concludes his message. The response to his ministry at First Baptist has been significant.
Not outdated, nor unappreciated
The 48-year-old associate pastor, who came to First Baptist from Mississippi by way of Florida, takes advantage of every occasion he has to remind the people of First Baptist that God called him to Atlanta to serve Dr. Charles F. Stanley (who will celebrate his 85th birthday on Sept. 25) and he has done that without fail. In fact, George has probably extended Dr. Stanley’s years of ministry through his dependable service to the church, his effectiveness in the pulpit, and his personal attention to Dr. Stanley’s needs.
On a recent Wednesday evening, George spoke on Ephesians 5:8-11 and challenged the people to: (1) embrace your spiritual identity; (2) determine your core values from scripture; and (3) grow in your discernment between what is acceptable and unacceptable to God. The message was powerful, practical, and very pointed.
When George preaches he pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. His style of preaching is still drawing a large weeknight audience in what is becoming a tolerant-indoctrinated, politically-correct, secularly-inclined society. So, in spite of the discouraging cultural trends, do not conclude that strong, biblical preaching is outdated and unappreciated in 2017.
Kevin Hendricks, who runs his own writing and editing company, commends the idea of adding another worship service for some churches and mentions the benefits of doing so. First, he suggests a midweek service gives churchgoers a choice. More choices brings more chances your church will fit into their schedule.
Second, Hendricks explains that an additional service means more opportunities to serve. The service at First Baptist Atlanta requires singers, instrumentalists, greeters, people assigned security responsibilities, etc.
Third, Multiple services allow you to be creative. I have seen First Baptist have baby dedications, commission volunteer missions’ groups, and feature children’s choirs in song. It is not likely they would be able to do those things in a Sunday morning service.
Multiple services maximize space. The Sunday services at First Baptist are generally almost filled to capacity. The Wednesday evening service allows room for people to come who may not get into the Sunday services.
Multiple services create unity. If your church has more than one Sunday morning service, the people in one service may never get to know the people in another service. On Wednesday evening, however, many are able to be in one service. As a result, they fellowship with people they might not see or even know otherwise.
The key to any successful service is undergirding it with prayer and focusing on creating a time of worship marked by excellence. Smaller churches may not have the talent and giftedness of the larger churches. Adding a midweek service certainly requires more work, but it can often be effectively used to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry, inspire the people to greater Christian living, and challenge them to be Great Commission Christians.
After all, isn’t that what we are suppose to be doing?