Benjamin Franklin once said “By failure to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  There is a great deal of wisdom that comes from this founding father of America.  He understood the need to be ready.  Our founding fathers certainly were that.  Perhaps no story, concerning the nature of their preparation, is more telling than that of Paul Revere’ ride.  We found victory because we took the necessary steps to garner that victory.  Our soldiers knew how the British were coming because we were prepared.  This continued throughout the war.  Eventually the underdeveloped, under armed, under militarized army won victory for this budding nation.  We won because we prepared.
While we are at in a physical war as Christians we are at war.  “
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).”  We are not fighting for land, oil or earthly riches.  We are fighting for the most valuable thing on earth… the souls of men.  This war will be won on by God.  Satan will ultimately be defeated.  However, if we want to be on the winning side we have to pick the winning side and began preparing for victory.  It will require us to win a great deal of battles along the way.  Some of these battles will be personal; some will be family centered, and others will be congregational.  Some of these battle will be little victories like resisting the urge to binge eat.  Others might be much larger like teaching your child about the gospel and watching that child eventually put on Christ in baptism. 
Next week we have one of these congregational battles that can seem like a minor issue.  Perhaps that is the issue right there.  Maybe the reason we don’t see gospel meeting having the success that they used to is that we don’t view them as major battle grounds anymore.  When we view them as “little battles” we are failing to prepare.  We don’t view them as important and therefore don’t make the appropriate steps needed to assure the gospel meeting will be successful.
So what type of things can we do to fail to prepare?  We can fail to clear own schedules.  Years ago I knew of a brother in Christ who always took his two weeks of vacation every year during the gospel meeting weeks.  He worked nights and the only way he could attend was to take his vacation during that week.  I know some might think that is a bit crazy.  For the devoted person it makes complete since.  He wanted to see the meeting be successful so he started by assuring that he would be there.  A bothersome trend I am finding is the shortening of gospel meetings.  More and more meeting are become of the 2 or 3 day variety.  (While I realize that our is shorter, it has been done to accommodate the travel time of our incoming preacher.)  Many churches are shortening their meetings because they cannot get their own members to commit coming to a weeklong meeting.  My friends it wasn’t that long ago that Gospel Meeting (or tent revivals) would last several weeks.  How we expect to be successful in spreading the gospel we don’t want to hear it ourselves.  Yes, I get it we are busy, but the issue is as the song suggests, “What if our hands are busy with other things than his?”  As the only bible many of the world will ever read we need to be preparing to succeed.
We can fail to invite others.  No gospel meeting can be successful if we do not invite others to the meeting.  Every year, every gospel meeting I have tried to encourage you to get out there and invite your friends, family, banker, cashier, etc to the meeting.  I have hoped that we as a congregation would invite 100 people to the meeting.  According to door to door sales training, you can expect 10% of the people you talk to accept your invitation.  If we can get at least 10 people from our communities to come, then we are succeeding.  In past Gospel Meetings we have been really good about this.  In fact, the last time Jim Deason was here we had our highest attendance numbers.  I would like to see us delve back into those types of numbers.  But, to do this you need to have been preparing and continuing to prepare for the meeting by inviting others often.  What better way to help people prepare to succeed then to give them a solid foundation; the theme of our meeting this week.  Knowing that most of the people you will likely be inviting to the meeting will be those that already believe in God and already attend someone (or at the least identify as being a part of a denomination) might I suggest that you encourage them to come on Tuesday?  Tuesday night we will be looking at Bible Authority.  What can you do to ensure that they come?  Eliminate reasons why they cannot make it.  Let us be honest, it is hard to make time to go to work, make dinner, and then make it to a worship service.  Might I suggest inviting them to dinner in your home, or taking them out to eat, if they don’t have to worry about dinner that is one less item than can hinder them from coming?  Yes, they puts more work on our shoulders, but our aim here is to bring more people to the Lord.  That takes work.  It takes preparation, even if that preparation literally means preparing a meal.
We can fail to let the lessons change us.  The one thing that bothers me more than anything as a preacher is preparing lessons for an audience who is merely there as spectators.  Brother Deason is not traveling all the way up here to entertain us.  He is coming to teach us.  Prepare your heart to accept instruction.  Prepare your heart to change if needed.~WTK

Grinnell church of Christ
 
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Preparing For Failure

The Light
Volume 8 Issue 17