One of my best memories as a kid is that of loading up the station wagon and heading to Bible study on Wednesday night. No matter the weather, or schoolwork (we had to do it immediately after school on Wednesdays), or ball, we were there. Do you know how embarrassing it was to be pulled out of practice or a game (the worst!) and have to leave the field with your parents (of all people!) to “go to church” while the others stayed and played? Funny how I still remember that. Not only did I survive, but also in the process I learned a very important lesson: the principle of sacrificing for something important.
Can I show you a verse that says, “Thou shalt attend Bible study every Wednesday night”? No. But I can show you where brethren gathered at times in addition to Sunday (Acts 2:46; 12:12). And about elders and their duty to shepherd/teach/feed their flock (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:9; 1 Peter 5:2). And verses reminding us to submit to their leadership in matters of judgment (Hebrews 13:17).
Given that and my need for personal growth and encouragement — mid-week Bible study has always meant one thing: I’m there! If I don’t get to eat supper until later — I’m there. If I’m weary and worn out by an all-day workday — I’m there! If I’m tempted to substitute another extra-curricular activity — sorry, I have a prior commitment.
I understand work and sickness and health-age related issues like driving at night. I also understand unforeseen situations. We all do. That isn’t the point. The point is: the elders where I worship have asked me to do my best to be present on a Wednesday night for Bible study and — I’m there.
I remember something else about those long-ago mid-week nights. I remember that the elders made it a point to use some of us younger Christians to lead in worship. I read scripture, or led a prayer. Later when I was older, I offered the invitation. I remember how nervous I was. I remember practicing my talk and timing it to be four minutes. I remember when I actually did it — it was about ninety seconds! I also remember how much it meant to me when older Christians made it a point to speak words of encouragement.
I remember going home in the car and being asked by my parents about my Bible class. They expected a little more than the standard “it was good.” I also remember one time when they received a report of misbehavior on my part. My parents asked for a meeting with the teacher. Let’s just say there was no more problem. By the way, parents sided with teachers back then. Smart move.
I remember how the teenagers used to sit together as a group up front after class on Wednesday nights. Everyone was welcome and no one was excluded. Sometimes one of us would come forward to be baptized or admit wrong. The rest of us couldn’t wait to get to them after services. The girls would all cry and hug and the guys would all punch each other on the shoulder and say something like, “What you did was cool!” — or something like that.
We had a great group of young people and we hung out and did things together. And one of the reasons so many of us grew up to be faithful goes back to parents and their insistence that we were there.
Wednesday nights were special when I was young. They still are. If your congregation holds mid-week services, I hope they are just as special to you too.