Wade Hodges on Wednesday Night Service

Wade shares some insights on the Wednesday night difference with his church plant vs. a traditional established congregation.

“A dirty little secret among many church staffers is that Wednesday night is their least favorite night of the week. Why? Because they have to carry on mid-week programming that doesn’t fit into the overall mission strategy of the church and therefore no longer makes sense to them. Yet the church remains committed to Wednesday nights because there is a vocal minority (increasingly vocal and increasingly minor) that would flip out like a demoniac sitting next to Jesus on a bus if changes were to be made.” – Wade Hodges

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

8 Responses to Wade Hodges on Wednesday Night Service

  1. Mark says:

    Wow, I really don’t like his tone. I’m sure he would say it isn’t his intention, but he sure sounds condescending, comparing those who see things different than him to a demoniac.

    I am one of those potential comment posters (whom he urges to keep silent) who would point out that our congregation, Wednesday nights are done in a traditional format, yet we have good attendance and people seem to be blessed by the experience.

    I used to have exactly his attitude, that I didn’t like the 10 minute devotionals at the start, and Wednesdays felt burdensome. I noticed that attendance wasn’t as good, so I resented making lessons, and I tried not to use up my “good sermon ideas” for those short devotionals. Then I had sort of a wake up moment, realizing that it was unlikely our congregation would want to make a huge shift in our schedule, and that by trying to mix things up Mark’s way would probably cause more division than it would make things better.

    So instead I started really taking Wednesday nights seriously. I put a lot of work into those short devotionals, telling myself that people need a quality pick-me-up in the middle of the week. I started making sure my classes were the best quality I could make them, and I utilized the different Wed night environment to teach different kinds of things than I would on a Sunday morning. The end result is that attendance is better, and people enjoy being there.

    So perhaps the biggest problem with Wednesday nights isn’t necessarily the format, because any other format would also get old with time. I have realized that the biggest problem in my congregation with Wednesday nights was my attitude, more than anything else.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am completely fine with doing things differently than we’ve been doing them traditionally. I would not be one of those who would freak out if we tried something new, and I understand his reasoning for what he’s doing with the party throwing approach. It’s not his method, but his tone that I don’t care for.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Tone is so hard to read in hypertext…but I get what you are saying here. Hopefully he isn’t being condescending here. One of the biggest temptations to experiencing freedom in Christ after you have been surrounded by years of legalism is to become condescending to those who are still in the throws of legalism.

      I think the biggest thing is exactly what you just wrote. If we give something attention and effort it will grow. If we just drone on and on and do things just because they have to get done they will suffer. I would be willing to bet (so would Wade, apparently!) that the congregations whose Wednesday night attendance is suffering have typically not given that service much attention so people don’t really know why they need to come.

      It used to be if you opened the doors to the church people would magically walk in because of guilt. Today it just isn’t so. If people don’t know why they should be there or don’t think it will benefit them spiritually, they will reinvest that time somewhere else.

  2. Our efforts will certainly have an impact for those who are there. For some, positive word of mouth may bring some back who have found other things to do with their time. Having said that, let me ask a question. When was the last time you had anyone come forward on a Wednesday night? Or, have you ever seen anyone come forward following a Wednesday night invitation.

    Literally, in 31 years, I have never seen it. Why then offer the invitation? This is similar to continuing Gospel Meetings. In my lifetime, I have never seen a single soul converted at a Gospel Meeting. They lost their impact at least 25 years ago. Why then do we continue?

    I have challenged a couple of Elders who are also business men with this question: if you ran your business by continuing a business practice that used to work but no longer adds value, how long would you remain in business?

    I don’t agree with change for the sake of change. In the same manner, I think it’s foolish to continue in a course of action because we are too stubborn, selfish or ignorant to change to something better.

    This post struck a cord with me and just wanted to share those thoughts.

  3. Jerry Starling says:

    I was “fired” from one congregation because I quit offering the invitation on Wednesday evenings – with only c. 20 people in usual attendance, all of whom had been at two “services” on Sunday week after week. That was many years ago too.

    Last night, the small church we are now worshiping with had 2 dozen for Mid-week Bible Study. My wife taught a ladies’ class (13 people); our preacher led the men’s group (of 8), and there were 2 teen boys with a man as teacher.

    The ladies’ group is enthusiastic about their class. No one wants to miss it. The men’s group spend the entire 45 minutes in prayer. Every man present contributed to the prayer, including one who had never done so before. We all were blessed by the evening.

    Yet, I have also often felt the frustrations expressed in Wade’s article.

    Does this point to most of our worship times being times we do what we’ve always done because we’ve always done it that way – but it’s just easier to let Sunday p.m. or Wednesday p.m. “slide” because, after all, we’ve got to “take” the Lord’s Supper (is it a medicine we have to “take” – or a blessed privilege the Lord offers to us?). In our congregation, we have one woman who habitually leaves as soon as the Lord’s Supper is over on Sunday morning, which is normally the only time we see her.

    I guess my question is: is it culture and lifestyle that has changed, or is it the level of commitment that has changed? If we had no more competing interests now than we had in the 40’s & 50’s, would our mid-week attendance be as good now as it was then? Or has our level of interest in spiritual matters decreased and that is what makes the difference? Are our members more discriminating now than they were, or are they just not as much in love with the Lord as we think we used to be in the good ol’ days?

    I suspect it may be a little of each of these. For now, the best thing to do is follow Mark’s plan above. Make Wednesday evening something so great that no one wants to miss it!

    Jerry

  4. Wade says:

    hey guys–great thoughts. You’re right, tone is hard to read on a blog. I was totally trying to be condescending because that’s the way to engage in meaningful dialogue.

    Just kidding. I was having fun with imagery. Can you image how cool it would be to see a demoniac freaking out once he realizes he’s trapped on a bus with Jesus. I’d pay to see it.

    I’ve never really worked with legalistic congregations. I’ve always worked with churches that were moving toward freedom.

    The resistance to change I’ve encountered hasn’t come from legalism, but a desire to keep the peace. Not a bad thing in its own right, but different from legalism.

    I’m glad you guys are rocking it on Wednesday nights. Keep it up!

  5. Leroy Miller says:

    FIrst of all, most ministers do not deserver the salaries they recieve. I have seen mission teams who are self supporting family men hold down two jobs while planting churches. It seems as if all most of these ministers do is come up with a lesson on Sunday, ear tickling…, take their rest day on Monday, Tuesday back at the office, surfing the net, reading their favorite books, throwing in a visit to sister so and so.. Wednesday getting ready for the regulars who really are the ones who know their Bibles, no ear tickling or dynamic illistrations (save that for the Sunday bunch)- Thursday is some busy stuff, perhaps the Bible study with the Mormons. Friday and Saturday are mostly family time, ball parks, or can be used to get some free food,; perhaps a dinner with an elder, or a senior get together…then Sunday, the holy day where the ears must be tickled.

    I predict only 1 out of 10 ministers were like Paul. I tip my hat to those men, and I think you can find them by how many times the minister is at Starbucks or actually on the field winning souls.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Leroy,

      I am sure that is true of some ministers. But most of the ministers I have known have been extremely hard working and passionate about what they do. It is not unusual for ministers to put in way more than 40 hours in a week. Actually, the average is around 55 hours a week with many making far less than they would make in the private sector. It is good we stick to the facts and not just toss out assumptive/made up figures. Sorry you have had so many bad experiences with this. I am sure you have had some pretty poor things happen that colored your view on this. Let me assure you it is not the majority.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: