I had a conversation with someone who knocked on my door from a “nondenominational” church. They meet on Saturdays. Can you point me in the right direction to figure out why meeting on Saturdays matter?
The answer is that meeting on Saturday does not matter. Christians can meet on Saturday or on Sunday or on Friday or any day they like. Christian churches in the Middle East often meet on Fridays because this is their
“Sunday.” There is nothing wrong with this tradition. There is no directive anywhere in the New Testament as to what day of the week Christians need to meet. We have examples of when they met to hear the Word preached, for fellowship and for the Lord’s Supper, but we do not have a command about the day to meet. This is why debating this issue is really a waste of time.
Historically, the debate has been waged largely by people who believe in something like a Christian Sabbath. The problem is that there is no Christian Sabbath. This is established by scripture. In Colossians 2:16 we are told that in Christ things such as New Moons and Sabbaths do not matter. If there is a Christian Sabbath at all (there is not) then that Sabbath will be a permanent one when Jesus comes back (Hebrews 4). The writer of Hebrews tells us that there is a Sabbath-rest for us, but it is at the end of time. Those who defend worship on Saturday as a legal requirement for Christians without exception are groups which defend bringing in some part of the Law of Moses into Christianity. Many from the Millerite movements in the 1840s brought Jewish covenant ideas into Christianity. This included 7th Day Adventists, who bring in food laws from Judaism, as well as worship traditions. There are also 7th Day Baptists, a fairly small sect, but these 7th Day Baptists also rely heavily on bringing Judaism into Christianity. Paul had some pretty strong things to say about these legalists in Galatians and Colossians. He says that those who want to drag circumcision into Christianity ought to go all the way and cut the whole thing off in Galatians 5:12! He says that they are eternally condemned! This is what he would probably say to those who insist on Saturday worship. Personally, I would not go that far (declaring them all to be condemned), but I strongly oppose this incorporation of Jewish legal requirements into Christianity.
By the way, there were many Christian Sabbatarians, especially in the UK, in the seventeenth century and beyond. Many Presbyterians and Baptists, as well as Puritans and Congregationalists have taught, wrongly, that Sunday is a Christian “Sabbath.” This is the source of the supposed “blue laws” in the US. The problem is that there is literally zero scriptural warrant for this teaching. Generally, we would not debate these Sabbatarians, but, technically, they are just as wrong as Saturday Sabbatarians.
So, why, then, do Christians typically meet on Sundays (or on Saturday night)? It is because of the tradition begun by the apostles. Paul met with the elders in Mileta on Sunday (Acts 20). John was in the Spirit on the eight day–on the Lord’s day (Sunday, Revelation 1). One reason given (which may not be the main reason!) for the choice of meeting on Sunday for the Lord’s Supper was in commemoration of the resurrection. Another possible reason was that all of the early Christians were Jewish and they met on Saturdays in Synagogues. Also, the first preaching of the gospel, and, arguably the first church meeting in Acts 2 was definitely on a Sunday. The church, therefore, met on Sundays. FYI, Saturday worship people will tell you that the early church actually met on Saturday, not on Sunday for the Lord’s Supper. This is not true, but it is not entirely false. As early as the first century, churches met on both Saturdays and on Sundays. Some of them took the love feast (not the Lord’ Supper ) on Saturdays. I believe this included the church in Alexandria. Saturday Sabbath people will pull out quotes about Saturday church meetings as proof that they are right and we are wrong, but they are being selective in their quotes and catching Christian believers flat-footed because they do not know that the church did both in the first and second centuries. An open-minded look at all quotes about the day of worship in the primitive church will prove beyond all doubt that the principle day of worship was Sunday.
But, remember that the day we worship is not prescribed in the New Testament. Paul suggested that the collection be made on the first day of the week, but it was not in the form of a command. In any case, there is NO evidence that either the collection or the communion were ever taken on Saturdays in the primitive church.
All of this is covered in my book on church history “The Christian Story” volume 1 (www.ipibooks.com)
By the way, there is another Christian group that insists on Saturday Christian worship, and this is some messianic Christians. This is ironic because, as Jewish converts, they should know that the early Church met on Sundays because, as Jews, they would meet for Jewish worship on Saturdays. If anyone should know that enforcing Saturday worship on Christians does not make sense, it is Jewish Christians.
To summarize, this should not be a debate between those who believe Christians must meet on Sundays and those who believe that we must take the Lord’s Supper on Saturdays. It is between those who believe there is a special Christian Sabbath and ones who do not believe that there is a day devoted as a Christian Sabbath.
By the way, it is my opinion that it is not a great use of our time to debate with Saturday Sabbatarians. My experience is that they tend to be immune to being convinced from Scripture. Their commitment, in this case, is not to the Bible (although they tend to think it is) but to their sect. I would advise smoothing over this unessential teaching (what day we must meet on) and focus on the things we can agree on, which is discipleship, the need for holiness, to give glory to God and to lift up Jesus Christ. But we should, of course, be “prepared to answer.”