I have often shared examples of our Sunday morning services at Grace Fellowship Church. Yet are one of those rare churches that also has an evening service, so I thought you might be interested in seeing an example of how we structure them.
First, the answer to the question I know you’re asking: Do people actually come to your evening services? The answer: Yes, though in lower numbers. We get perhaps half as many people in the evening as we do in the mornings. The great majority tend to be members (rather than visitors or regular attenders) and for this reason we scale back the formality a little and place greater emphasis on serving the church community. We try to have a “family feel” in the evenings. These services are 90 minutes in length and divided into two sections (30 minutes and 60 minutes respectively).
Section 1: Children & Adults
The first 30 minutes of the service is structured to include both children and adults. After 30 minutes we dismiss the children to age-appropriate classes that to up to eighth grade. Once the children go to their classes, the adults focus on prayer. But first our services go something like this.
Book giveaway. We begin by giving away some books. We try to mix these up so some are for a broad audience, some are for women, some are for children, and so on. Often we will give them away in twos or threes to encourage people to read together.
Song. “Lost Is Found.” Early in the service we sing a couple of songs geared toward children. This one is drawn from a Sovereign Grace children’s album.
Catechism. We are working through the New City Catechism as a church. We first review last week’s question and answer, then have a church member teach the current week’s Q&A through a 5-minute explanation. The teaching is very much geared to children (though we know the adults benefit just as much).
Song. “Psalm 19.” We like to sing songs a few times in our evening service before introducing them in a morning service, so this is often where we begin to learn new ones. That was the case with this setting of Psalm 19.
Testimony. We will often have a member of the church tell about a recent event or experience in 5 minutes or less. So, for example, a person who participated in a Bible study may relay her experience or a person who has been to a conference may describe what he saw and learned there. We recently had a group of people read through Knowing God together, so this Sunday Jola explained what he learned from it and why he thinks others should read the book as well.
Pray. We pray for the children and dismiss them to their GraceKids classes (where they do activities and study curriculum based on The Gospel Project).
Section 2: Adults
Now the teens and adults remain and begin to turn the focus to prayer.
Scripture reading. One of our Scripture readers reads a passage from the Bible.
Sermon. We have a brief (15-minute) sermon. It may be expository (based on the text that was just read) or topical. This is often where we begin to allow young men to get their first experience of preaching.
Song. “The God of Abraham Praise.”
Prayer. We pray for approximately 45 minutes. An elder always facilitates this time and the format varies week by week. Sometimes it will be left wide open so anyone can pray for whatever they wish, while other times it will be more organized and we will pray for specific nations, people, ministries, and so on. Sometimes we pray as one large group, sometimes as several small groups, and sometimes as men and women. Anyone who attends is welcome to pray and every week there is a wide variety of people who choose to do so.
Benediction. We close with a benediction. “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”