The Future of the Afternoon Worship Service

by Bob Kempf May 30, 2023

You may wonder why Tenth has an afternoon service every Sunday. This is how it came about, and what it is all about.

If you have been at Tenth for a while, you may know about Tenth International Fellowship, a worship service that was designed to include our international friends and be sensitive to cross cultural communication and unfamiliarity with Christian worship. More recently, we changed the name to the International Outreach (IO) service. Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the service was held on Sundays at 11am, upstairs in Fellowship Hall.

Then came the pandemic shut down in spring 2020. Like all our services, the International Outreach service went online yet was very well attended. During the summer of 2020, the elders involved with the IO service, Enrique Leal, Russ Pfieffer, Nasrat Ghattas, Bob Kempf, along with Joe Park, prayed together for the Lord’s blessing and leading on how we ought to proceed. What would He have for us during this crisis? Over many weeks we met and studied the birth of the Jerusalem church in Acts 2. We sought the Lord.

Then, the City of Philadelphia allowed Tenth back into the sanctuary, with attendance limits. To accommodate more worshippers, the elders added the 1pm time slot in the sanctuary so that more of the congregation at Tenth would have the opportunity to attend a worship service in person. However, the 1pm slot was not well attended.

At this point, the Tenth Session approached the IO team and offered the 1pm time slot as an alternative to holding the IO service online.  The elders involved with International Outreach saw this as an answer to prayer, and so we began leading the IO service at 1pm in person in the sanctuary. Soon we found that more than just internationals were attending.  The service also worked well in conjunction with the weekly street ministry lunches and those ministry guests were invited.  As a result, our vision for the service began to expand.

The current 1pm service has pastoral prayer in multiple tongues. We also include American Sign Language, with interpreter Roz McKelvey interpreting for both in-person and online worshippers. A volunteer also simultaneously translates the service into Spanish for our Spanish speakers. It also continues to be a welcome place for our street ministry friends to attend worship.

With the growth of its vision in mind, the Session of Tenth has recently approved a new purpose statement for the afternoon worship service:

At the afternoon worship service, we are intentionally evangelistic and are not assuming prior knowledge of the Christian faith. We seek to present the reformed faith in a compelling and substantive way which relates to a broad spectrum of people.

Outside our front door at Tenth is a world of people who do not know Jesus, most of whom were not brought up in a Christian church.  These are referred to as the “Nones,” people without any religious affiliation. They, in many ways, are like many internationals that come to us — lonely, unchurched and therefore not fluent in the liturgy of worship, and most importantly, without any knowledge of the gospel. At the afternoon service, we are going out of our way to explain why and what we are doing in the worship service. We take every opportunity to teach about doctrines and practices that would be second nature to anyone brought up in a Presbyterian church, or any evangelical church. We teach about the doctrines in the creeds and Westminster catechisms. We take time to explain Scripture when it is read. We include personal prayer requests within our pastoral prayer so that all may know that our Lord cares for them.  Enrique Leal intentionally preaches Christ to both believer and the yet-to-believe in our congregation with clear application. The invitation to know Christ is extended weekly.

Please especially pray that the Lord would call more worshippers to himself — from the deaf community, from the Spanish speakers, from those on the street, and from all those who live on our center city doorstep. Pray for godly wisdom for those that lead this worship service.

We know that this requires the giving of time to make sure those that come through our door are welcomed and made safe. So, please thank our diaconate and security team, as they are making an additional sacrifice to serve at the afternoon service. Perhaps you can volunteer to assist them?

We extend the invitation to all to come and visit and bring a friend! Perhaps you might find that the afternoon service is a place where your unchurched friend might be comfortable.

The Session has also asked that the afternoon service be moved to 2pm. This will begin Sunday, June 11. This will open the noon hour to be free for lunch and fellowship at Tenth. As a metropolitan church, drawing from all over the city, we can look forward to building greater fellowship over meals together, something that the Jerusalem church did in Acts 2, “… breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” May the Lord do the same to us.

© 2024 Tenth Presbyterian Church.

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