Over the years I have watched churches continue to attack gospel meetings/bible seminars/lectureships, rivals, or whatever you want to call them. When I was younger it seemed that every church in the area was having several a year. Speaking to an older brother in Christ when I first started preaching, he told me of Gospel Meetings that would last three weeks. (That church had gospel meetings that went Monday-Sunday, essentially making 8 straight days of worship). I know of another church that holds late morning bible classes during the gospel meeting for those able to attend. Any more it has become more and more common to see Gospel Meetings being cut down. Some churches hold only one a year. Others hold none at all. I am also seeing the trend of holding gospel meetings Sunday-Wednesday night, completely cutting out the Thursday and Friday nights. When asked about this trend I am usually reminded of the fact that the services just arenít well attended on those nights. So, rather than ďdisappointĒ the preacher with low attendance, we will just not have a meeting on those nights. In light of these trends, I want to look at ways in which we can assure gospel meetings will fade into yesteryear.
Make No Evangelistic Efforts. Gospel meetings are supposed to be about getting the message of the gospel out. I have heard some preachers now tell me that they donít like inviting people to attend services. They do invite people to bible studies, they do not look down upon those that invite people to gospel meetings, they just donít like doing it themselves. While I understand their reasoning, for many you need a lot more personal work that a gospel meeting to help them see the truth of the gospel when they have been shown error, mistreated, etc for so long. However, I think that it sets a dangerous example. The reality is, the rest of the congregation doesnít have the time to sit down and prepare hours of bible studies. The rest of the congregation doesnít have time to even go to two or three studies a week (or more) if they have a job, kids at home, etc. Oft this is the best way for their friends and family to be exposed to the truth of the gospel. The great thing about inviting people in the community to the gospel meeting is that it helps the preacher see who would be interested in studying the scriptures. If the members arenít inviting, even the casual passerby we are missing great opportunities to see the church grow.
Donít Plan an Attending. One of the biggest reasons, as mentioned earlier, Gospel Meetings are dying out is because the members arenít coming. It is exceptionally difficult to encourage people to attend a gospel meeting when its own members wonít make the effort to attend. As football season ramps up, it is not hard to see where our issues are. Recreation in some ways is becoming Americaís new religion. We live and die by our teamís success. We create our schedules around game time. And we place most of our disposable income into whatever recreation best suits our taste. Gospel meetings are becoming a thing of the past because it encroaches upon too much of our ďpersonal time.Ē I know gospel meetings can be long and exhausting. (I have four kids and all their extracurricular activities). But, that is why we need to make plans now. Clear what you can from the schedule. (I know traditionally this is not an issue here, but let us be certain that it remains that way).
Be Sure to Complain Often. Every so often I will hear a preacher make a comment in a sermon that I donít fully agree with. Usually these were made in passing as part of an illustration to prove a bigger point. One such occasion the preacher was talking about how Christians have differing views that we donít need to be making big deals about. The traditional issues popped up, politics, sports, as well as a variety of issues that have been made fellowship issues over like one cup, located preachers, and whether bible classes were scriptural. In this list he threw up proper church attire (that is do you have to were a suit and tie) and the consumption of alcohol. What transpired following that sermon was a great deal of bickering, backbiting and complaining (exactly what the preacher was warning against). To make matters worse, this was the Monday night sermon. Tuesday-Friday evenings were spent listening to people grow increasingly bitter against the preacher. Complaints were constant.
Grinnell church of Christ
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How to Have an Unsuccessful Gospel Meeting
Volume 7 Issue 37