Why so many churches are abandoning the 11am service and seeing 'Wednesday as the new Sunday'

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If times were a-changin' even during the glory days of Bob Dylan in the early '60s, how much more now when changes to nearly everything are happening much faster?


Worshipers fill the 7,000-seat Willow Creek Community church during a Sunday service in South Barrington, Illinois.

Just like anybody else, churches in America are also trying to adapt to the changing times. That's why even the time-honored tradition of 11 a.m. Sunday service is at risk.

Some churches are even rescheduling their services on weekdays, like those churches in Minnesota that have appointed "Wednesday as the new Sunday," according to StarTribune.

On his blog, Lifeway President and CEO Thom Rainer observes that many churches have already dropped the traditional 11 a.m. Sunday service because they supposedly no longer fit the needs of their congregations.

He asked several church leaders why they no longer hold services at 11 a.m. and found five common answers.

One church said that when it added another Sunday service to accommodate more congregants, the 11:00 a.m. time did not fit anymore a "good schedule for traffic, flow, and length of service."

Even churches with just one service said that 11 a.m. was "such a late time" because "most people had been awake for hours." Moreover, "the worship service inevitably runs into lunchtime."

He found more people now prefer a worship time beginning between 9 and 10:30 a.m. and millennials are "particularly averse to 11 a.m. services".

Others saw a lone 11 a.m. service to be too traditional and out-of-touch.

Meanwhile in Minnesota, many families are reportedly abandoning Sunday services to accommodate children's sports schedules, week-end work shifts or out-of-town travel.

According to the StarTribune, mainline denominational churches in the state have long been holding services on Wednesdays.

"It's a different demographic," said Pete Erickson, faith formation director at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Plymouth. "Our trend on Sunday morning is younger families—preschool to about fourth grade. On Wednesdays it's families with older children," he said.

"The on-demand culture has affected church people as much as society," said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

He said maintaining the attendance of congregants is important since irregular churchgoing often leads to no churchgoing.

Some people wondered whether the Sabbath — which the Bible says is "the seventh day of the week" — can be celebrated on a Wednesday.

In response, the Rev. Brenda North of The Detroit Lakes United Methodist Church said, "Worshiping God can happen any day of the week."