Saturday or Sunday: What day is Church Worship?

You probably think of Sunday as the big church day, but guess what? There’s a whole other crew that worships on Saturday! These churches feel strongly that Saturday is meant to be a day of rest and connecting with God, just like in the Bible. For them, Saturday worship is more than just a routine, it’s a way to live out their faith to the fullest.pen_spark

 Ever wondered why some Christians head to church on Saturday instead of Sunday? Let’s figure out why some folks choose that day, take a peek at what the Bible has to say, and even help you find a friendly Saturday-worshiping community nearby.

Why Do Some Churches Meet on Saturdays

For churches where Saturday is the big day, it all goes back to one of the most famous parts of the Bible – the Ten Commandments.  You know, the one about “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…”  This commandment tells us to take a break after six days of hustle, just like God did when He made everything. That’s why for them, Saturday is their day to focus on God, not jobs or errands.

If you ask someone who keeps the Sabbath why they do it, they’ll likely tell you that Saturdays are special. It’s the day God built into the rhythm of the world at the very beginning – a whole day meant for rest, worship, and hanging out with your community.  Think of it as a weekly “pause” button, where you step back from the everyday grind and focus on what really matters – your faith and connecting with God.

Saturday Worship in the New Testament

While the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday holds immense significance in Christianity, churches observing Saturday worship emphasize that this doesn’t negate the importance of the Sabbath concept. The Gospels themselves portray Jesus as a regular participant in Sabbath worship at the synagogue (Luke 4:16).

Moreover, the Book of Acts provides several instances where the early Christian communities also gathered for worship on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 42-44; 18:4). Churches that uphold Saturday worship see these passages as evidence that the early church honored the ongoing significance of the seventh day.

Let’s clear up a misconception: Churches that worship on Saturday aren’t downplaying Jesus’ resurrection!  Actually, they see Saturday worship as connected to the very beginning of the world God created, and then He rested.  It’s about honoring that ancient pattern and following the example set by Jesus and the first Christians.

Prominent Denominations that Worship on Saturday

While many smaller congregations practice Saturday worship, here’s a look at some of the larger, well-established denominations that place a strong emphasis on the Sabbath:

  • Seventh-day Adventist Church
  • Church of God (Seventh Day)
  • Seventh Day Baptists
  • Sabbatarian Adventists
  • Armstrongism
  • Sabbatarian Pentecostalists
  • Other Sabbath-keeping Groups
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Seventh-day Adventist Church

Seventh-day Adventists are perhaps the most widely known denomination observing Saturday as the Sabbath. Their worship is the opposite of snooze-fest. Think lively music, thought-provoking Bible studies, and preachers who won’t put you to sleep. Beyond church services, Adventists are active globally, operating schools, hospitals, and charities as expressions of their faith.

Church of God (Seventh Day)

If you’re looking for a church that seriously loves its Saturdays, the Church of God (Seventh Day) might be your jam! They believe that keeping the Sabbath holy is super important – a direct order from God Himself. Think of their services like a big family gathering, everyone’s digging into the Bible together, sharing their hearts with God, and making the kind of connections that last a lifetime.  You’ll find these friendly folks all around the world.

Seventh Day Baptists

If you love old-timey hymns and a Bible-focused service, you might feel right at home in a Seventh-Day Baptist church. This historic group goes way back to England in the 1600s!  They’re known for keeping the Sabbath holy on Saturday and for their belief that baptism is meant for adults.

Sabbatarian Adventists

Within the larger Adventist movement, groups like the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists and various Church of God (Seventh Day) conferences maintain a strict observance of the Sabbath. These groups definitely see Christianity in a unique way. They often believe in things like the world ending soon, and that the Holy Spirit gives people special powers today. This makes their take on faith pretty different from what you might be used to.

Armstrongism

Denominations like the United Church of God and the Church of God International (United States) emerged from the Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. While these groups observe Saturday as the Sabbath, they often focus heavily on additional aspects of Old Testament Law within their beliefs and practices.

Sabbatarian Pentecostalists

Groups like the Soldiers of the Cross Church blend Pentecostal beliefs and practices with Sabbath observance. Their worship services can be particularly expressive and lively, featuring speaking in tongues and joyful, energetic music.

Other Sabbath-keeping Groups

Numerous smaller, independent congregations worldwide also uphold Saturday worship. You may discover groups like the Seventh-Day Evangelist Church, the True Jesus Church, and those within the Hebrew Roots movement who adhere to a seventh-day Sabbath.

The Shift to Sunday Worship in Christianity

Christianity’s move away from the traditional seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday worship is a complex historical development. Here’s a breakdown of the key factors involved:

1. The Significance of Jesus’ Resurrection

  • After Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday (Matthew 28:1-6), this day held immense meaning for early Christians.
  • It symbolized Christ’s victory over death and became the foundation of the new covenant.

2. Practices of the Early Church

  • Scriptures like Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 indicate early gatherings on the first day of the week.
  • This reflects a shift towards Sunday as a special time of worship and community-building.
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3. Christianity’s Distinct Identity

  • As Christianity expanded beyond Judaism, Sunday worship further distinguished it as a unique faith.
  • It helped early believers establish their own identity separate from Jewish customs.

4. Emperor Constantine’s Influence

  • Constantine’s 321 C.E. decree officially made Sunday a day of rest.
  • While primarily a civil ruling, it’s likely this reinforced Sunday’s importance in certain Christian circles.

5. Shifting Perspectives on the Sabbath

  • It’s essential to note that Sunday observance did not mean Christians disregarded the idea of Sabbath entirely.
  • Some theologians focus on the fulfillment of the Sabbath in Christ, emphasizing spiritual rest and freedom in worship.

What to Expect at a Saturday Worship Service

While specific practices vary across denominations and individual churches, here are some things you’ll generally find at a Saturday worship service:

Services often begin with elements like a call to worship, opening prayers, and a warm welcome to both visitors and regular members.

Music plays a big part in most Christian services, with everyone singing together. Some churches prefer classic hymns, others have a band playing worship songs – and lots do a mix! It’s a time to let go a little and just express your faith through the music.

A lot of the service is usually built around studying the Bible. Sometimes this is more like a group discussion, other times it’s a pastor giving a sermon.

A lot of churches have a time for hanging out and getting to know each other, either before or after the service. Sometimes it’s just coffee and snacks, other times there’s games or stuff planned. This is so important – it’s where you really start to feel like part of a family, where you can support each other, and where faith becomes more than just the Sunday service.

Aspects of Sabbath Observance

For churches that see Saturday as a holy day, the spirit of the Sabbath extends far beyond just the church service.  Here are a few ways that commitment to the Sabbath might shape everyday life:

  • Rest from Work: For those who keep the Sabbath, Saturday is a day to let go of the regular workweek grind. It’s a chance to recharge both your body and your spirit, and step away from the usual list of things to do.
  • Family Time: The Sabbath isn’t just about following a list of “don’ts”, it’s a chance for families to slow down and really connect. Maybe that’s a big, homemade meal where everyone pitches in.  Or a long walk where you can actually talk without rushing.  Sometimes the best part is just hanging out at home, knowing you don’t have to be anywhere else.
  • Community Service: Some Sabbath-observant churches dedicate a portion of their Sabbath day to outreach initiatives or serving those in need. You could hand someone a warm meal at the soup kitchen, sort through toys with kids at the donation center, or simply sit and read a book to someone who’s lonely.
  • Personal Study and Reflection: Individuals might set aside time for deeper Bible study, meditation, prayer, or other devotional practices. When we ditch those everyday distractions, it’s amazing how much clearer our connection to God can feel.
  • Restrictive Practices: Some denominations might have additional rules or restrictions regarding specific activities considered inappropriate on the Sabbath. These guidelines are meant to help you feel more focused and less stressed by creating clear boundaries [for work and rest].
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Common Questions and Concerns About Sabbath-Observant Churches

Many people have questions, and sometimes misunderstandings, about churches that hold their primary worship service on Saturday. Here’s a look at some of those concerns and how Sabbath-keeping churches view them:

  1. Don’t these churches disregard Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus?

Most Sabbath-observing churches actually hold deep reverence for Jesus Christ and celebrate the resurrection. While Saturday is their primary day for dedicated worship, many will also hold special services and celebrations on Easter Sunday. Sabbath observance is viewed as a complementary act of devotion, not a denial of Christ’s significance.

  1. Does keeping the Sabbath mean I’m under the Law of Moses?

Churches that prioritize the Sabbath often emphasize that salvation is attained solely through the grace of Jesus Christ, not by adherence to a set of laws. Sabbath observance is viewed as an outward sign of an internal spiritual reality – a way to show God has priority.

  1. Isn’t Sunday the ‘new’ Sabbath?

Some Christians believe that Jesus rising from the dead on Sunday was so important, it changed the Sabbath day for them. However, Sabbath-keeping churches usually respond that there isn’t explicit biblical direction for this change. The Fourth Commandment, found in the book of Exodus, specifically designates the seventh day as Sabbath. Many Sabbath-keepers adhere to this original commandment out of reverence for Scripture.

  1. Will I be isolated if I join a Sabbath-keeping church?

Sabbath-observant communities are often smaller than traditional Sunday-centered churches, which can be a concern. Yet, these churches frequently have incredibly tight-knit communities due to their shared values. Joining a Sabbath-keeping church means entering a community where faith is often deeply ingrained in members’ daily lives. Sabbath churches usually offer various programs, activities, and ministries throughout the week to foster a sense of belonging and fellowship.

Even within Sabbath-observing churches there can be a variety of theological perspectives and nuances to address these questions.

Conclusion

If the idea of a Saturday-focused worship experience intrigues you, don’t be afraid to explore it! If you’re longing for a spiritual life that prioritizes rest and reflection, a Sabbath-observant church might be the perfect fit. These churches wholeheartedly celebrate Jesus and His resurrection while holding to the biblical principle of seventh-day Sabbath rest. Of course, the best way to understand Saturday worship isn’t just by reading about it – it’s about experiencing it for yourself!

Remember, regardless of when you choose to worship, the most important thing is nurturing your relationship with God and living out your faith every day. The beauty of Christianity is that it offers diverse expressions, and if the Sabbath calls to you, don’t hesitate to answer!  There might be a whole community waiting to welcome you with open arms.

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