Question and Answer

Must I Attend Two Sunday Services?

Question:

Many of our members drive a long distance or are elderly and it is hard for them to come back for an evening worship particularly in the winter months. Can a local church impose church discipline on these individuals because they refuse to come to the second service after attending the first worship service?

I looked at the Book of Church Order and it doesn't spell out how often to have worship on Sunday but does say to make it a day of rest and keep it holy. In my opinion, the fact that some members are stressing driving long distances twice a day often isn't keeping the Sunday holy.

I attend both services at my local church because it isn't a problem for me but, with other members it is a problem. My basic question is can a local OP Church make a requirement of its members that isn't spelled out explicitly in the Book of Church Order. It looks as if they are doing away with the BCO and making their own rules. Do local churches have this right?

Answer:

Thank you for your fine question. I am somewhat hesitant to say too much here because I don't know exactly what is going on there at the local church. So, I would encourage you to approach the elders there yourself and ask them your question.

But I can say this. It is ordinarily obligatory of church members to attend all stated meetings of the church on the Sabbath. How many meetings is left to the discretion of the local session. So, in my thinking, not to attend worship both morning and evening (where it is called for by the session) on the Lord's Day is "forsaking the gathering":

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Now, of course, there are always exceptions. For instance, if someone is providentially prevented from making it to worship, or if there is bad weather, or if a member is elderly and he or she cannot make it through two services physically, then that is one thing (and disciplining an elderly member in such a situation would not be appropriate, in my opinion). But, ordinarily, if a session calls two meetings each Lord's Day, then members are under obligation to not forsake the gathering.

Please feel free to follow up with any other questions you may have.


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