As a past pastor and college professor, let’s call out some of the terrible arguments that “explain” why church services are canceled this coming Sunday.
#1 – “Christmas is not biblical.” — You are right! Christmas” is the artificial day of celebration, not the Lord’s Day. If you would like to cancel Christmas as a day of celebration, go at it. It has no biblical basis. The Lord’s Day has biblical, historical, and experiential support! Churches aren’t canceling Christmas celebrations, but the established service(s) of God’s people on the Lord’s Day.
#2 – “Few will attend.” — Decisions on whether one should have a service on the Lord’s Day are not based on whether all or some of God’s people attend or don’t attend. Those who would like to worship and praise God during “Sunday School,” Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, Mid-week, et al . . . . should have that opportunity provided to them by their pastor. In fact, the pastor should want to provide such opportunities for those who are the most “committed.”
#3 – “Only doing it one day this year.” — Christmas is a recognized religious “holyday” celebrating the incarnation! Remarkedly, it is the most likely day that people who are not church-going people – go. (along with Easter/Thanksgiving / Mother’s Day). Many non-church people may not attend on Christmas Sunday evening, nor do they throughout the year! Nevertheless, over the years, we have had hundreds attend our Christmas Sunday evening drama and because it was on Christmas Sunday. Pointing out that the culture is removing Christ from Christmas while removing Him from your regular Sunday services, is just duplicitous! And then we wonder why fewer attend church or trust their pastor’s pulpit ministry.
#4 – “We are replacing/moving it. — “Saying that you “replaced the Sunday evening service with a Saturday candlelight service, fellowship time, singspiration, etc. is an abuse of words at best and deceptive at worse. Call it what it is! You didn’t “replace” or “move” anything! You canceled the Sunday evening service because it fell on Christmas! You are allowed to have both and/or more than one seasonal service, without canceling another. Such statements are underhanded!
#5 – “Romans 14” — Romans 14 isn’t about having or not having the regularly scheduled services on the Lord’s Day when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. — talk about expository preaching and properly exegeting what the Scriptures teach! No more of this talk about what others believe and teach when we ourselves can make the Scriptures say what we want them to say to justify a bad decision!
#6 – “It is legalism to judge.” — It is not “legalism” to follow a biblical, historical, and experiential practice, such as Sunday worship, any more than it is legalism to expect God’s people to read their Bibles, pray, praise Him in song, witness, etc. There is no reason to stop or pause in doing any of these godly disciplines. None of them make you godly, but godly people follow such practices. Else, it is legalistic to expect people to come to church on Superbowl Sunday (or an anniversary, a birthday. . . .) if God’s people would rather watch football than attend church! — “Let’s not be legalistic” — since choosing football over church is a legitimate and proper option.
#7 – “We don’t have an evening service.” — Some churches no longer have Sunday evening services. These churches and pastors have nothing to say about the matter! They have already put into practice what will be happening around America in a few days. They have already decided that the Lord’s Day is also their day to do whatever! While they protest about the moral decline of our culture, they have been and continue to be part of the problem, not the solution!
#8 – “What does it matter!” — There are people, who know not Christ, who would be and are willing to celebrate Christmas — for good or for bad, for the right reasons or the wrong reasons — if the church would provide some opportunities. With many churches, it used to be a cantata, “The Living Christmas Tree, a Christmas instrumental concert, a Christmas drama, etc. Those people are more and more left to the seasonal secular events and shows available across American culture.
#9 – “It was not my decision.” — I truly doubt that the decision regarding Sunday services is made by the deacons, trustees, elder board, or God’s people. Yes, that decision comes from the lead pastor! He decided it! He is the one who should be held responsible — and will be! Unfortunately, the other church leaders and the flock lack the will, position, or strength to say — “Not in our church. That is not who we are!”
#10 – “Other pastors around us are doing it also.” — Too many”Shepherds” are no different than the sheep (and maybe worse)! They want the time off, just like many of the leaders and/or God’s people. That is the reality! They have their plans and/or don’t want to minister to the smaller group that may attend! It reflects the declining love of ministry, commitment, and work ethic of many pastors in our present-day pulpits.
The arguments being made about canceling Sunday services are just another reagent, a revealer of where the shepherds of the flock are in their ministries! Most of the “explanations” (at best) and pastoral hypocrisy (at worse) communicate the shallow and superficial love of their calling and of the Lord’s ministry. While many of God’s people may well remain quiet, they understand what their pastor is saying – verbally and non-verbally — about our Lord, the local church, corporate worship, commitment, and about himself!