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Are Wednesday Night Services Scripturally Binding?
Written by: David Banks
The question has often been raised, sometimes jokingly, whether or not attending Wednesday night services are binding. To take it a step further it should be determined if having Wednesday evening services is Biblical. Could it be said that since the scriptures are silent on the subject of midweek services that they are therefore prohibited by the scriptures? Is that not the same scriptural interpretation that we use to prohibit the use of mechanical instruments in the worship assembly? Let us consider a couple of questions.
The first question we should ask is whether or not we have Biblical authority to study the Bible together as a congregation outside of a worship setting. It seems superfluous even to ask this question, however there are many brethren who consider it unscriptural to meet for any reason other than worship. In the days following the Day of Pentecost, after the multitude heard and obeyed the gospel, "they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42). This was in keeping with what Jesus commissioned the apostles to do when He said, "Go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20). The apostle Paul writing about the responsibilities that Christ left for the church, wrote, "He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13). These, and many other scriptures, clearly mandate that it is not only good but it is imperative that Christians spend much time studying the scriptures both individually and as a congregation.
The second question we should ask is whether or not we have Biblical authority offer devotional messages either spontaneously or at scheduled times other than on the first day of the week. Read through the book of Acts and notice how the apostles and others made use of every opportunity to teach, make disciples, encourage, and strengthen the church. In Acts chapter twenty there are a couple of examples. In Troas Paul began preaching on the first day of the week and continued preaching well after midnight even till daybreak of the following day. From Troas Paul went to Miletus where he called for the elders from Ephesus for the express purpose of sharing with them a message of encouragement. This did not occur on the first day of the week. While preaching can and should be considered an act of worship, surely we should not consider that we are to preach only on the first day of the week.
The answer ultimately lies in the authority of the elders. It should be made clear that the elders have absolutely no authority to bind anything that is scripturally prohibited. On the other hand there are some things that are scripturally mandated for which we have no strict guidelines to follow. We must therefore conclude that we are afforded the liberty to use our own judgment as to how and when to do these things.
For example, we interpret correctly that we are to come together on the first day of every week to engage in worship (partake of the Lord's Supper, give of our means, preach, sing praises, and pray). Since we consider this a scripturally binding mandate should we therefore determine that we should meet at sunrise and worship continually until sunset? Since there are no scripturally specified times we logically determine on our own, that when we come together on the first day of the week, we are obligated to devote a sufficient amount of time to fulfill the specified acts of worship. In any congregation that has scripturally appointed elders, it should be determined that if the elders establish and/or approve the set schedule for worship on the first day of the week, then that schedule is binding for the members of that congregation according to the guidelines set by the elders (some concessions are customarily made, within reason, for those who are sick or have to work, etc. at those times).
By this same token, if the appointed elders of a congregation determine that it is good and proper for the congregation to set aside specific times, on the first day of the week or any other day of the week, to engage in congregational Bible study, in addition to the first day of the week worship assembly, it should be determined that they are scripturally afforded the authority to do so.
I conclude, therefore that since the elders of the congregation have been given the authority to specify set times for scriptural Bible study and for the offering of devotional messages at times in addition to the first day of the week worship assemblies; and if the elders have established and approved the Wednesday evening schedule for the encouragement and strengthening of the congregation under their oversight, that the members of that congregation are obligated to submit to that authority and be present at those appointed times according to the guidelines set and approved by their elders.