Recently Lake Pointe Baptist Church, in suburban Dallas, Texas, began offering an alternative worship format that now is being considered by as many as 10,000 churches across North America. The Southern Baptist congregation of 2,200 added a Saturday-night worship service to its weekly menu, challenging the centuries-old norm of Sunday morning as the only viable time for corporate worship.

“There is a population of unchurched people who cannot be reached by a Sunday-morning service,” explains Mark Yoakum, Lake Pointe minister of education. “And secondly, we don’t have educational or parking space available on Sunday mornings to accommodate the kind of growth we’ve experienced in recent years.”

How many U.S. churches are already offering alternative-day worship services in addition to their Sunday-morning fare? Based on several surveys, “approximately 3,000 to 4,000,” says church-growth trend watcher Elmer Towns of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

While this figure represents only 1 percent of the country’s churches, it includes 10 percent of America’s “100 largest” churches, such as the highly visible and influential Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago. That congregation of more than 15,000, pastored by Bill Hybels, features two services on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning. Among other “big names” that have gone the Saturday-night route are Stuart Briscoe, Jack Hayford, Bob Moorehead, Mike McIntosh, Tim Timmons, and Rick Warren.

Why Saturdays?

Why, after centuries of Christianity on this continent, are pastors and parishioners now going beyond the tradition of Sunday-morning-only worship? One operative factor involves the cultural acceptance of alternative-day worship engendered by the Roman Catholic ...

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