It is clear that the evening worship service is not widely known in the PCA. Introducing regular evening services will take patience and encouragement to teach members about the blessing of worshiping together morning and evening. Through our surveys of church websites, we were encouraged to see many churches offer a regular meeting on Sunday evenings if not a full service, including hymn sings, prayer meetings, or catechism classes.
Perhaps one of the greatest blessings of the Christian faith is the blessing of the Lord’s Day, setting aside one day in seven to gather with God’s people for His worship. The conviction that the Lord’s Day ought to be set aside for worship is why at one time it was the near-universal practice of Reformed churches to gather for both morning and evening worship on Sundays.
Regrettably, the practice is no longer common in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). According to a recent project led by Justin Andrusk to collect comprehensive data on the prevalence of morning and evening worship in the PCA, only 238 of 1930 churches (12.3%) listed in the PCA directory report having both morning and evening worship services regularly.
The Case for Morning and Evening Worship
The Bible makes a strong case for gathering twice on the Lord’s Day. The Bible is bookended with the rhythms of morning-and-evening (Gen. 1; Ex. 20:11; Rev. 4:8, 7:15). Throughout the Old Testament, it was the practice of the Israelites to worship God morning and evening, as evidenced by morning and evening sacrifices (e.g., Ex. 29:39) and psalms for morning and evening worship (Pss. 92, 134). After the Resurrection, Christ appeared to His disciples on the first day of the week in the morning and in the evening (John 20). In connection with the Resurrection, the early church began to meet on the first day (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10; cf. Westminster Shorter Catechism 59).
The historic practice of gathering for morning and evening worship continued with the Protestant Reformation. According to the Westminster Standards, the whole day is to be spent “in the public and private exercises of God’s worship” (WSC 60; Westminster Larger Catechism 117; Westminster Confession of Faith XXI.8). The Directory for the Public Worship of God of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church states that it is “highly advisable that a congregation assemble for public worship at the beginning and the ending of the Lord’s Day” (I.A.4.b). Similarly, the Directory of Public Worship of the Reformed Presbyterian Church North America records that “the session should carefully consider whether a second meeting should be held” (2.F-9).
Morning and Evening Worship in the PCA
While anecdotally, the view is held that morning and evening worship is not as common in the PCA as it is in other Reformed and Presbyterian denominations (such as the OPC or the RPCNA), data on the prevalence of morning and evening worship in the PCA has never before been recorded. To collect this data, we visited every church website in the church directory and counted by presbytery the number of websites mentioning both a morning and evening worship service.