Church Meetings – Part 3: When Should Churches Meet?

Sunday has been the traditional day when Christians come together as a church to worship. But what is the standard in the Bible? Contrary to popular belief, there is no established day or time in the Bible for the church to assemble.

Now I know what you’re thinking. The Bible shows that the early church met on Sunday, right? Well, I think we’re stretching the biblical text to get to that conclusion. If you search the Scriptures for any reference to Sunday (as in “the first day of the week”), you will find that it occurs 8 times. Five of those are in reference to the resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Another in John 20:19, references the disciples in the Upper Room on the evening of the resurrection. I would argue that none of these 6 verses have any bearing on a church service. After all, I believe the Church was founded in Acts 2, so it wasn’t in existence yet. Furthermore, there is nothing in the text indicating that Jesus intended for His followers to continue to meet on that day. Please read it for yourself.

Another verse is Acts 20:7, which states that the disciples came together on the first day of the week. There it is! See! That’s when the church normally met, right? However, that same verse states that Paul preached until midnight. I highly doubt that anyone is going to say that a service ending time of midnight is normative for the church. But go ahead if you want to. (One of my pet peeves is people taking one part of a passage and applying it to Christians while completely ignoring the rest of it.) Acts 20:7 simply records what happened at that meeting. It says nothing about what is normal for a church service.

The final passage is 1 Cor. 16:1-2, which states that the Corinthians were to save money to minister to Christians in another locality. Paul advised them to set aside a portion on the 1st day of the week. The Greek text makes it clear that each individual was to keep his portion by him, not at a church building, bank, or other communal storage area. (The Greek phrase is par’ heauto titheto thesaurizon which I would roughly translate as “storing it up, place it beside you”.) The concept was that when Paul showed up, it would be ready and each person could just give him what they had saved. That passage says nothing about a church meeting.

Another phrase, “Lord’s day” occurs in Revelation 1:10. Most agree that this likely means Sunday, but John was by himself on the isle of Patmos, so it cannot possibly refer to a church assembly either.

So meeting on a Sunday can be argued from tradition, but the scriptural evidence is lacking. Even in Acts 2, they met daily (vs. 46), but I don’t think that was a formal meeting. They went from house to house. Of course, I’m not saying that meeting on a Sunday is wrong. It’s just that it’s not prescribed by Scripture. So if a group of Christians form a church and want to meet on Friday night or a Tuesday morning for worship, there’s nothing wrong with that from a biblical perspective.