We originally published this article on January 4th, 2016 as an explanation of why we chose to have our weekly worship service on Saturday afternoons. In September 2019 we are transitioning to Sunday mornings to better focus on discipleship as a church. If you are wrestling with the theology of Sunday worship or what day of the week you should worship on please read this article as well as The Lord’s Day: Biblical, Historical, and Theological Foundations for Sunday Worship by Terry Iles. We think both articles are helpful for a thoughtful discussion. In Christ, the Cornerstone Elders
At Cornerstone we worship on Saturdays at 5:00pm. Some have asked why we worship on Saturday instead of Sunday. The short answer is, we as a church are on a mission to reach the unchurched in Westford, specifically families with children, and we believe meeting on Saturday, in obedience to the freedom we have in Christ, is part of accomplishing this mission.
New Testament Worship and Freedom
As we look to God’s Word on these questions, we recognize that if Christ had wanted to elevate Sunday worship to the level of an ordinance, such as the Lord’s Supper or Baptism, he could have done so clearly. But, he did not. When we look at the Word of God and Christ’s message in it, we recognize the freedom that we have in him.
The Apostle Paul didn’t hold to strict morning worship on Sunday. Acts 20:7 says “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” (NIV) Likewise, the author of Acts holds up the church in Jerusalem as a Godly example of a church that felt free to worship when they wanted, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts…” (Acts 2:46 NIV) What Luke highlights is not their meeting time, but their heart-attitude and their abundant love for God and each other. The moral aspect of the law we uphold is not “when” we worship but “who” and “how” we worship.
Paul teaches boldly on the depth of the freedom we have in Christ. Romans 14:5-6a says, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord…” Again in Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Paul encourages early believers to follow their convictions in Christ.
Old Testament law helps us understand our New Testament freedom with respect to the day of worship. The law can be divided into three separate categories: 1) civil laws that govern the nation of Israel; 2) ceremonial laws that God gave Israel for their worship of him; and 3) moral laws that reflect God’s character and apply to all people for all time. The Sabbath (our modern-day Saturday) was the appointed day for Jews to keep holy, and it is actually all three (Exod 20:8, Deut 5:12). God gave the Sabbath uniquely to the nation of Israel to set them apart as a nation (civil, ceremonial) but the command itself predates the Ten Commandments (moral). In Genesis 2:1-2, prior to the giving of the law, God modeled a “day” or “time” of rest for all of creation.
As a Jew, Jesus obeyed the Sabbath law perfectly, giving us civil, ceremonial, and moral fulfillment (Matt 11:28, 12:8, Heb 4:10, 14). He did this in unexpected ways the religious leaders didn’t understand or like (Matt 12:1-14, Mark 2:23-27, Luke 6:1-11). Jesus had the right to re-interpret the Sabbath, telling us how it was meant to bless and not bind us, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27b NIV) Jesus called his followers to do good on that day (John 5:16-18, Matt 12:11-12).
Jesus prioritized the needs of his disciples, as well as the needs of his own ministry instead of prioritizing the limitations of what could and couldn’t be done on the Sabbath day. Christ directly modeled the point of the Sabbath was to do good.
Freedom To Do Good On The Lord’s Day
Since the early church, the body of Christ has set apart Sunday, instead of Saturday, as a special day to worship God together (John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). It’s treated with honor and respect because of its closeness in time to the resurrection. We call it “The Lord’s Day” because that’s what John calls it in Revelation 1:10. Since the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ (Heb 10:1, Col 2:17), we don’t believe the Saturday Sabbath has transferred to Sunday. Rather, the fulfillment of the Sabbath in Christ gives us the freedom to gather for corporate worship at the time best suited for our mission.
Cornerstone is on a strategic mission to make, mature, and multiply disciples in Westford and its surrounding towns. We are convinced that we can best be a gospel-centered church that changes lives through sharing the message of Jesus Christ in word and deed by setting our time of corporate worship on Saturday evening. Many families have a hard time getting to church in the morning, whether due to the hassle of getting kids out of bed or the commitment of Sunday-morning activities. We want the unchurched to come to know Christ.
On Sunday, we desire to honor the resurrection by spending time worshipping God privately, as a family, and on mission. We want to rest, and as the Holy Spirit allows, reach out and love neighbors or friends who don’t normally go to church. This schedule helps us reach the lost in our community on Saturday, Sunday, and the other days of the week.
We are careful not to change the essence of the gospel, but willing, like Paul, to “…become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (see 1 Cor 9:19-23 NIV). Like Paul, we are purposefully and prayerfully contextualizing our ministry to reach the lost. We hope you will join us.