65 thoughts on “SFL Flashback: Watch Night Services”

  1. In regards to watch night services, my dad had one every year. I must admit they were miserable and something I hated as a kid. Who really wants to come to something like that? I can promise you that I will NEVER attend a watch night service again. This is one of the many times that I look back on my previous IFB experiences and appreciate the fact that I have moved on in life.

  2. Some of my favorite New Years Eves have been spent with friends and family in my house playing cards or dominoes and eating way too much Chex Mix and other assorted delicacies.

    Some of my least favorite involve interminable bouts of preaching mixed with singing that was less than excited. There is nothing like a six hour service reminding you of all the rules you need to follow in the next year so you can be holier than your neighbor.

  3. Went to watch night for twenty years. It consisted of young preteen boys preaching for 15 minutes each and lots of specials sung and then a break at ten for snacks. Then it was back to the auditorium for more preaching til around 12:15. No bringing in the new year with any excitement. Whoopie!!!

  4. Thankfully the church I grew up in didn’t try this more than once or twice. Even so, I remember all too clearly sitting there, miserably bored, while we “prayed in” the new year.

    When I led the youth group for a couple years later in life, we always had a lock-in at the church, playing unapproved games in the dark. :mrgreen:

  5. I can’t believe our Fundy church didn’t do this, especially considering how the Apocalypse was practically fetishized there. I had never even heard of this until I came to SFL.

    I think I can pretty much go the rest of my life without doing it, though. Won’t be going on my bucket list πŸ˜€

    1. Here in the Rusted Buckle of the Bible -belt Cowbell Service usually = Watchnight service. Generally around here one can watch the flyers posted on bulitin-boards in local restaurants and find a Watchnight/Cowbell service to attend. πŸ™„

        1. Apparently from what other people have told me, preacher boys are given an allotted time to preach. When their time runs out, someone rings a cowbell and the next guy hops up to preach.

        2. PW has it. Generally thay have 10-15 minutes to preach “Hell hot”, and tell what is wrong in church tosay and how they would fix it. If one of these sermonettes is good enough you may hear the phrase, “After preaching like that I’m ready to charge hell with a squirt gun.” (or “…go bear hunting with a switch.”)
          Most of these Preacher wannabe auditions are judged by the number of “Hey-men/PIB” per minute. (PIB= Preach It Brother) “NEXT!”

    2. If you want to know the IFB I have known and experienced then here it is.

      Part 2 (45 min)

      Part 3 (39 min)

      Part 4 (50 min)

      The gist of it all can be summed up with a quote from the opening preacher in part 4: “It is good to be here tonight, I appreciate the opportunity. I don’t take it lightly anytime I get to stand behind a pulpit and preach in another man’s church…”

      This is Preachertainmnet in the Rural IFB.
      I’m having so many flashbacks right now. *twitch* 😯

      1. OK, I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out your former church! I thought maybe it was Woodland Baptist Church on Rural Hall / Bethania Road — that church certainly seems to fill the bill WRT KJV-Only etc. etc. — but now I’m thinking, “Walkertown? Walkertown? What churches do I know about in Walktertown?”

        BTW, are you familiar with Freedom Baptist Church in Rural Hall (not far from the Coronet, best local seafood place bar none)?

        1. I’m over here near Tobaccoville. And my former church was one of these rural IFB bunkers. (my kids did attend WBCS btw)

        2. Oh, Walkertown refers to Gospel Light, which is the IFB Mothership in this area, then Calvary in King, then Woodland, Freedom (but they only have a huge bus route and not a school), Kerwin (who shut down their school because they coudn’t compete with Gospel Light), Union Grove… and then as you head to Mt Airy there are several but White Plains is the IFB flagship of the foothills.

          Most of these are Hyles influenced. There are others in the area that are more Bob Jones-ish and some even have a PCC flavoring. But the numbers game is very, very important to the local IFB bunker dwellers and the House of Hyles Formula was nearly universally adopted around here.

        3. Oh my gosh, we are practically neighbors!!

          I always wondered whether Calvary in King was IFB. As opposed to Calvary in Winston-Salem, which is SBC, right? (I understand that Calvary in Winston-Salem — the one at the corner of Country Club and Peacehaven — is the largest church in the area. I’m told the second largest is First Assemblies on University Parkway, a/k/a the God Dome. We have very nice neighbors who attend the latter. My boss used to attend the former but now attends Redeemer Presbyterian [PCA]. I assume this means she has disposed of her collection of Left Behind books. :mrgreen: )

          I asked about Freedom because I am friends with a guy who is married to the daughter of its former pastor. He is a BJU grad, and I must say he is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. He and I are erstwhile colleagues. He is still IFB, but he has an open mind and doesn’t even think I am going to Hell because I’m Catholic. πŸ˜†

          I have got to register at the forum so I can PM you! I am hesitant to say anything more publicly because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings…I have good friends in local fundyland, and the Internet is sometimes a smaller world than one thinks.

        4. OK, sorry to keep getting off-topic; this is the last time, I promise.

          Isn’t Calvary in King the church that used to be a supermarket? Soon after we moved here, IIRC, they took over the abandoned supermarket…can’t remember which one.

          So, they have a degree-granting college there? In a former supermarket?

          Oh well, the Lord can use anything, I guess. 😐

        5. It’s a stretch of the imagination to call what they bestow on their graduates an actual degree. The only reason it is not a “Basement Bible College” degree is because they don’t have a basement in the supermarket. http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2009/02/church-basement-bible-colleges/

          Oh have you seen that Woodland now has their very own “College?” Yep-zeedoozers.

          I’m fairly certain that most of these we have named (maybe not the SBC Calvary) will have some sort of Watchnight service.

        6. LOL!!!

          I think you’re right…the W-S SBC Calvary is not having a Watch Night. Just checked their website.

          When we first moved to this area in late 1989, we rented a house out on Peacehaven, not far from the intersection with Country Club, so we drove by that Calvary Baptist church many times. One night they were hosting a revival featuring an evangelist whose claim to fame was that he had once been good buds with Elvis. I assume this means that that particular SBC church was perfectly OK with rock and roll. πŸ˜€

    3. Don, I empathize with you. Forgive me all for saying outloud; but this video is utter rubbish. It triggers memories of being dragged as a child to this type of “service” or “event” or whatever you want to call it. Fundamentalists have some kind of penchant for low quality lectures. I truly do not understand how adults can sit there with all critical thinking disengaged and listen to this nonsense. “we need preaching to challenge the way we live, dress, act, carry on..” No, no sir, I do not believe we need that. That is exactly what is NOT needed.

      1. Preachertainment at its fundie best.
        “Preacher, tell us what to think… Hay-men!”

        The observation I made for the last SOTL Conference post (that year I went and did a field report) applies here as well. It is not about critical thinking.. or thinking at all: it is about absorbing.

        There is no way to give anything other than positive feedback in this setting. No matter what is said it is passively accepted as truth, especially since it is being said from the pulpit, which gives it authority because in the IFB the Office sanctifies the holder of it.

        There are thousands of folks out there who would agree that the Cowbell service above is filled with “good” preaching. I can only imagine Jesus giving a “face-palm,” shaking his head and I imagine him mumbling something like, “They mean well… but none of that resembles any of the examples I left them… and Paul even warned them about this crap… *sigh*”

        1. Absorbing. “There is no way to give anything other than positive feedback in this setting. No matter what is said it is passively accepted as truth, especially since it is being said from the pulpit”

          This has bugged me for a long time. When I taught our Junior Class (upper elementary)I purposefully would throw blatant lies into the lesson occasionally. The purpose was to make the kids think and realize that they were NOT to believe everything just because someone told them from a position of leadership. Now that I teach the College and Career class, I have done the same thing. Some of them were in my class 8 to 10 years ago and remember. Some of the newer were a bit surprised that I would teach them to “question authority”, but then I showed them it is Scriptural to make sure they are getting sound, true, doctrine instead of man made doctrine and opinion.

          Some day when I’m asked to preach again in our fundy-light setting, I may try that as part of the sermon to try to shock a few folks out their passiveness.

        2. Don – your point proves again the duplicity of fundies. They point to the Bereans as examples in proving all things by scripture…but “all things” EXCLUDES anything taught by the MOG. You are to be skeptical of everything taught by anyone else than the MOG. Pure heresy.

  6. What I don’t miss is singing the same old songs, and no one thinks about the words they’re singing cuz the brain just goes into auto-pilot!(They’ve been singing them from the cradle) Then when the Jr. preaching starts, the brain goes into sleep mode. At least, that’s been my experience just to survive till midnight.

    Thank you Lord for directing me to a church that really knows the biblical meaning of worshiping YOU!

  7. Anyone else watch the movies from the “Thief in the Night” series at Watchnight services? Fundies do horror movies at midnight, too; they just show them in church on New Year’s Eve instead of in a theater on Halloween.

    1. Cripes, I remember seeing “A Thief in the Night” during a Watch Night service. I was in fourth grade. The experience left me in a depressed funk for about a week. I had been taught that “God is Love” and all that and here I was seeing him as something completely different. Talk about a paradigm shift. I saw the movie again later in college and laughed off many of the low budget film production. But still…the point remained: God is a monster.

  8. oh my yes!! Thief in the Night, Distant Thunder, Image of the Beast! All of them! The nightmares they gave me. You’re right – it’s just Fundy Horror. 😯 πŸ™„

  9. Clearly, these people *know* how to par-tay. Clearly they are ecstatic about the promise of a new tomorrow and a new year. Clearly they are thrilled to me living here on this amazing planet among such amazing friends. Look at those faces! Joy Unspeakable!

    …or not…sigh…

  10. I was just thinking about watchnight services today. Maybe I’ll invite some friends (and a few enemies that I’d like to torture) over to my house and we could watch “A Flame in the Wind” or “Sheffy” or “The Printing”. If we’re feeling a little worldly we could watch “A Thief in the Night” or “The Cross and the Switchblade”.

    1. haha.. I think I have probably seen all of those. And I remember watching some of those when I was really young that I probably shouldn’t have watched – the hell scenes were scary for a child.
      But how did no one see the hypocrisy of turning the church into a theater to watch a movie? I guess because the production quality was sub standard so there fore it did not count?? 😯

  11. I grew up in farm country so I missed out on watch-night services. Farmers don’t stay out late, it doesn’t matter how spiritual you try to make it seem.
    My father, the fundy mog, was not a fan of watch-night services anyway so we didn’t have them.

  12. You can tell how much power the MOG has by the:
    1) Intercom phone to yell at the people in the sound booth.
    2) Thermostats to maintain control of the temperature in the room.

    Both located right next to the MOG throne.

    I’m so glad I will never have to endure another one of these services. When I was in the IFB I was on staff so I had to go “when the doors were open”. I would rather spend it with my family.

  13. Yep. Sitting around watching The Printing, or some Raptureβ„’ movie, bored out of my five-year-old head, exhausted. Who says Xtians don’t have fun?

  14. About the time I think I’m over my IFB background I see something like this and get the heebeegeebees all over again. Notice how many of those sermons were from the Old Testament? And that atrocious singing…so thankful not to be part of that anymore. πŸ˜€

  15. I never heard of Watch-night services before we moved here to NC. We’d lived in the South before, but it was in Louisiana, and Louisiana is…different. (The Loozyana town where we lived had liquor stores with drive-through windows. Yep, that’s Louisiana.)

    I’d also lived in Sarasota, Florida, where I attended a hippie “alternative” college, but Sarasota’s not really the South, either. I guess the closest I ever came to something approaching “watch-night” was the New Year’s Eve I spent with some classmates at the cozy, festively decorated home of the deacon/choirmaster of the local Episcopal church. We drank champagne and nibbled snacks. And at midnight we gathered around the piano to sing “At the Name of Jesus,” one of the grandest of the grand old hymns from the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal. It was a blast, actually, and I will always remember it fondly. πŸ™‚

    1. My old Lutheran church sometimes held NYE parties and sometimes had Epiphany parties instead, depending on people’s work schedules. Highlights included kids getting into the helium for the balloons and running around talking like Donald Duck, and a bonfire made of dead Christmas trees. (Nowadays you can donate your old tree to the Boy Scouts, who will use it to make brush piles for rabbits to hide in or improve lake habitat for trout fry.)

    2. C G-C, is that the hymnal that includes the bulk of the hymns with reworked folk music from Vaughn Williams (the lesser-known older brother of John Williams, of course 😎 )?

  16. I never heard of a watchnight service until I saw this video….I think I’m glad to not have experienced this. Although there is all types of fundamental goodness in here…..The preaching was just sad (Not in the poor delivery sense. Although Poker boy had some issues)

    It was sad in the fact that the preaching was not about the Blessed Hope that is Christ and all about them, their works, their standards of living. What a way to ring in a new year but by chaining yourself to a self-made law instead of experiencing the freedom that is in Christ.

  17. I watched one of those rapture movies when I was 8. I don’t remember the title, but towards the end one of the kids that had a bum leg was shot. And some preacher had a heart attack or was poisoned or something in the pulpit. Maybe I’m mixing a couple movies, I don’t know. I lived in an extremely sheltered Christian home and the movie terrified me. I still don’t know why that was ok to show us, but we couldn’t go see a Disney movie (in my opinion, a much more child-appropriate movie). Fundamentalists and their stupid illogical reasoning. So glad I left that dead religion.

  18. Was looking at the wall behind the pastor’s chairs – looks like the thermostats for the room are mounted there – sooo, I’m guessing they’re nice and comfortable while the rest of the room either freezes or sweats…

  19. Someone said they show movies at Watchnight services, sometimes in some places, a few comments ago.

    Because I saw Les Miserables yesterday, I propose this is a movie to watch. What a wonderful account of Redemption set in another way. The acting, the music, yes all wonderful and moving.

    But, wanted to see what the fundies thought of it, after some research, discovered that most would not want their children to see it. There are some scenes that are not suitable for them (wonder if they saw any of the funeral coverage from Sandy Hook – or is that even allowed? )

    Again, like the pastor from yesterdays blog and that horrible “poem”, Morris I think was his name, what a pitiful, shallow, regressive and paralytic view of the Gospel, of God, and how all this fits together in what we call life.

  20. Wow. Wow. Wow. Finally, a church and pastor I’ve run across in my travels.

    I have fond memories of Watch Night services from the little country church when I was a teen. We would hang out with friends (my friends were at the church), and play games, and enjoy each other.

    Sometimes there would be talent kind of shows, but the best ones were the pot-luck suppers and the family games we would play.

    Judging by this video, it seems that Watch Night services are church singing, “preaching” (if the term fits), and special music.

    Watch Night can be fun, especially if one is lonely and wanting a family.

  21. First of all:

    I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable pagan holiday.


    Here is a poem for a new year:

    by: Frances Ridley Havergal

    Another year is dawning:
    Dear Father, let it be,
    In working or in waiting,
    Another year with Thee;
    Another year of progress,
    Another year of praise,
    Another year of proving
    Thy presence all the days.

    Another year of mercies,
    Of faithfulness and grace;
    Another year of gladness
    In the shining of Thy face;
    Another year of leaning
    Upon Thy loving breast;
    Another year of trusting,
    Of quiet, happy rest.

    Another year of service,
    Of witness for Thy love;
    Another year of training
    for holier work above.
    Another year is dawning:
    Dear Father, let it be,
    On earth or else in heaven,
    Another year for Thee.

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