Congregational meetings on the Sabbath? Yea/nay?

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Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
This came up recently. An elder appealed to the moderator at the start not have the meeting on the Sabbath and read aloud the WCF article on the Sabbath. It ended up being voted upon and with a little over 1/3rd of the congregation voting against having the meeting on the Sabbath. This effectively kept any sabbatarians from voting on the issues unless they stayed for the meeting against their conscience. I certainly hope that future meetings will not be held on Sunday but what can a person do?

Is congregational business ok on the Sabbath? I say no. It is not a work of necessity to have it on that day. It can be had on other days. What are your opinions?
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
Seems to me that it's the work of the church . . so I don't see a problem with it. :2cents:
 

beej6

Puritan Board Sophomore
I guess I would ask why was the original meeting scheduled on the Sabbath in the first place if there was such a division? I would think that is unwise.

That being said, if the church's work is the Lord's work, I don't see a problem with church business on the Lord's Day.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I guess I would ask why was the original meeting scheduled on the Sabbath in the first place if there was such a division? I would think that is unwise.

That being said, if the church's work is the Lord's work, I don't see a problem with church business on the Lord's Day.

Probably because the average church would find it exceedingly difficult to get most (perhaps even a majority) of people in one spot during the week. Some churches do not even have a building, and thus have greater difficulties.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't see a problem for a congregation gathered to worship, to also handle congregational matters. Congregational meetings are not secular or worldly work. There should be no objection for a sabbatarian that I can think of.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I agree with Patrick and Fred, Congregational meetings are not secular. God is there amongst them to handle whatever it is that they are dealing with.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The problem I see is in the reasons given for it. It's not just a matter of whether or not to meet on a Sunday. I'd be more interested in the reasons. What's good for one church may not always be good for another.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't see a problem for a congregation gathered to worship, to also handle congregational matters. Congregational meetings are not secular or worldly work. There should be no objection for a sabbatarian that I can think of.

:agree:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
While I don't think I would say no meeting should ever be held, I do think the subject is important to the question of whether it is appropriate, and also whether it will distract from the main purpose of the day, which is the worship of God. If the subject of discussion is the church softball team, then I'd say best schedule that another day. ;) Also, if it is known that it is a contentious issue and/or that will take a lot of time, that too would be best left to another day.:2cents:
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
While I don't think I would say no meeting should ever be held, I do think the subject is important to the question of whether it is appropriate, and also whether it will distract from the main purpose of the day, which is the worship of God. If the subject of discussion is the church softball team, then I'd say best schedule that another day. ;) Also, if it is known that it is a contentious issue and/or that will take a lot of time, that too would be best left to another day.:2cents:

I agree. Depends on the reason for the meeting. Meetings to call a pastor from a trio are customarily held on the Lord's day in our churches, while annual congregational meetings dealing with housekeeping items like church budget are customarily held on weekdays.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
I also see no issue, whether it be by Scripture or our Standards, having the church handle church business on Sunday.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The only problem I would have with a congregational meeting on Sunday is discussing the budget. As high minded we would like to think we are, the discussion would/could easily degenerate into debate about money which, I believe, is not a Sabbath subject especially after having the gospel preached to us!
 

jfschultz

Puritan Board Junior

:agree:

The Lord's Day is for worship and works of mercy and necessity. A typical congregational is none of these but a matter of business, which should be handled on one of the other six days.

Of course having the meeting on Sunday will keep those inconvenient sabbatarians away. :D
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
The only problem I would have with a congregational meeting on Sunday is discussing the budget. As high minded we would like to think we are, the discussion would/could easily degenerate into debate about money which, I believe, is not a Sabbath subject especially after having the gospel preached to us!


I would have to disagree. Part of our worship of God includes bringing him our tithes and offerings. I feel that if we can "do something" on the Sabbath then we can "talk about it" on the Sabbath.

As a deacon I object to the implication that the work of the deacon (i.e money) is not "high minded" enough for the Sabbath.

I think I understand the point you are trying to make, however it came across a little dualistic. In the sense that some work of the church is more important than other work.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
:agree:

The Lord's Day is for worship and works of mercy and necessity. A typical congregational is none of these but a matter of business, which should be handled on one of the other six days.

Of course having the meeting on Sunday will keep those inconvenient sabbatarians away. :D


Not really the meeting would be full of sabbatarians since it is on the Sabbath I would expect them to all be at church. No?;)
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I would have to disagree. Part of our worship of God includes bringing him our tithes and offerings. I feel that if we can "do something" on the Sabbath then we can "talk about it" on the Sabbath.

As a deacon I object to the implication that the work of the deacon (i.e money) is not "high minded" enough for the Sabbath.

I think I understand the point you are trying to make, however it came across a little dualistic. In the sense that some work of the church is more important than other work.

No disagreement with you here. I should have been more specific when I talked about 'money issues' not 'money' per se (cf. 1 Timothy 6) What I meant was wrangling over the pastor's salary or how much money we should give to the church kitchen project. I just see a tendency to move away from Sabbath subjects in discussion of the budget.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
:agree:

I thought that might be what you were getting at.

I have heard elders say before that they could meet on sunday but not deacons since at session meetings they were concerned with "spiritual things" but deacons only talk about "secular things" i.e. money. It was that attitude I was replying to not what you were talking about.:handshake:
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
:agree:

I thought that might be what you were getting at.

I have heard elders say before that they could meet on sunday but not deacons since at session meetings they were concerned with "spiritual things" but deacons only talk about "secular things" i.e. money. It was that attitude I was replying to not what you were talking about.:handshake:

:handshake:
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Maybe its just me, but calling a congregational meeting "the Lord's work" sounds like a cop-out. Just because its church stuff doesn't mean its the Lord's work. But I guess that's because its been used as an excuse just to make congregational meetings more convenient. If you want it to be more convenient, then just say so. But for some reason the whole thing about it being the Lord's work got mixed up in it, and I don't know why. If it was the Lord's work, then why did we used to have these meetings during the week? Or do we not do the Lord's work on other days? Or does the fact that its the Lord's work nullify and Lord's Day rule over it?

Or do you mean that worship services are the Lord's work, that's why we do it on Sundays? So we can also hold congregational meetings on Sundays, because that too is the Lord's work?

Or do you mean that, if it doesn't have anything to do with the church as congregation or entity, that it isn't the Lord's work?

What I think I should be hearing is that congregational meetings are a part of formal worship so we can do that on Sundays, not that they are the Lord's work too, so we can do that on Sundays.

I'm just saying that I don't get the connection. Why not keep Sundays for worship? What does "the Lord's work" have to do with it?
 

beej6

Puritan Board Sophomore
I suppose, John, that you are right - my simply saying "the Lord's work" amounts to a tautology. And I will plead ignorance to tradition, as the independent Reformed (now OPC) church I was saved in held (and still holds, I believe) its congregational meetings on Sundays.

Perhaps it would matter what the content of the meetings was? I recall, sadly, that some of those congregational meetings were short - for the single purpose of publicly pronouncing a serious church disciplinary action. Could one argue against that on the Lord's Day?

I didn't mean to say that convenience was a reason, though others have said so.

I certainly have no problem with said meetings occurring on other days, of course.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
In Free Church practice, the minister must preside over a congregational meeting. I would simply refuse to do so on the Lord's day, and that for the very reason that the apostles insisted on the choosing out of other men to wait on tables -- so that they could give themselves to the Word of God and prayer. I know it doesn't resonate with the modern insistence on breaking down the secular and sacred distinction, but the fact remains, there is higher work to be done on the Lord's day. Blessings!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
In Free Church practice, the minister must preside over a congregational meeting. I would simply refuse to do so on the Lord's day, and that for the very reason that the apostles insisted on the choosing out of other men to wait on tables -- so that they could give themselves to the Word of God and prayer. I know it doesn't resonate with the modern insistence on breaking down the secular and sacred distinction, but the fact remains, there is higher work to be done on the Lord's day. Blessings!

Rev. Winzer: I don't always agree with you but I can always count on your responses really challenging the way I think. I say that with the deepest respect.

I'm not sure what my fully-developed opinion is but, for very practical reasons, I am very glad my Church stopped conducting Church business on Sundays. When our new pastor got here, one of my friends, who had actually taken time to read the Church's Constitution, pointed out that Church business meetings were not supposed to take place on Sunday and were supposed to take place in the middle of the week during the days when the Church meets for prayer and study.

This has been a huge relief for my family and I. One reason is that Baptist polity is very exhausting to me. I'm not sure how other Churches handle it but this is the first time we've been in a Baptist congregation. Everything is decided by a vote in the congregation. I head about 3-4 committees and am, by default, one of the "leaders" of the congregation - not an Elder, per se, but one of the few who ever has a strong, informed opinion on any issue while most of the others are happy to go along with whatever is decided.

Pastorless for over a year, the deacons used to announce meetings during Church meetings - either right after Church in the pews or in a meeting later for a committee. It was to the point where nearly every Sunday we were meeting for some point of minutia - whether to allow somebody to drive the Church van or something like that. We have 3 very small children and, even when we had two, keeping them in good order for 3 hours followed by another meeting in the middle of their lunch and nap time was very difficult.

It is much more orderly now with the Pastor announcing the meeting well ahead of time and insisting that all business to be discussed to be brought to his attention by Monday before the Wednesday meeting. Do all attend? No, but that is their choice and they have to abide by the decisions of those who don't ignore the pastor's call for a meeting. Honestly, I'd prefer a Session that decided 99.99999% stuff that we talk about but given their government it is most ideal in my estimation.

In the Presbyterian Church of my "home", we only had to meet once a quarter and meeting in the middle of the week 4 times a year is hardly a burden.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rich, is this committee set-up the result of congregational government, or is it due to some other factor?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich, is this committee set-up the result of congregational government, or is it due to some other factor?

I think it's the way congregationalists do business: appoint committees to meet on a bunch of different subjects. The people are not elected by the members to serve on the boards.

I don't know if this is the norm for Baptist congregations. It's my first Baptist congregation I've attended and is due to the lack of a Presbyterian congregation here. I thank God for my brothers and sisters there but the polity is very strange to me.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I suppose, John, that you are right - my simply saying "the Lord's work" amounts to a tautology. And I will plead ignorance to tradition, as the independent Reformed (now OPC) church I was saved in held (and still holds, I believe) its congregational meetings on Sundays.

Perhaps it would matter what the content of the meetings was? I recall, sadly, that some of those congregational meetings were short - for the single purpose of publicly pronouncing a serious church disciplinary action. Could one argue against that on the Lord's Day?

I didn't mean to say that convenience was a reason, though others have said so.

I certainly have no problem with said meetings occurring on other days, of course.

BJ:
I'm not particularly Sabbatarian. There could very well be reasons for having congregational meetings on Sundays. I'm not saying anything against that. What churches do is up to them. All I'm saying is that they should be honest about why they're doing it. It's a discretionary thing for each congregation, for each Session to decide. There's no set rules about it.

My reaction comes out of my own history, being a part of a church that went from weekday meetings to Sunday meetings. Their reasoning included that of appealing to it being the Lord's work, and never explained what they meant by that. What they were really after was a good-sounding excuse the make things easier. It's giving reasons that really have nothing to do with why you're doing it that I'm against. It was the dishonesty in my former congregation that I objected to, more than meeting on Sundays. I was against meeting on Sundays too, but dishonesty is worse. "Because we want to" is still "because we want to" no matter how you paint it.

They would have to be good reasons. One that is stated above is that there are obstacles that are difficult to overcome for weekday meetings. Another might be geography, or facilities. There can be good reasons. And there's nothing wrong with stating them, and facing the criticism head on. I'm for that. I might still be against meeting on Sunday, because I think it distracts from worship, but I can't object to honesty. And I also can't let my own personal scruples stand in the way of the congregation's needs; that's not what having scruples are for.
 
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