Jump Start # 2091
Romans 10:14 “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
We are in the season of Gospel Meetings. There is a passage in the Old Testament, around the time of David, that says, ‘in the spring the kings went off to war.’ In our days, in the Spring the preachers go off to preach. I was just with one church for a few days and now I am with another church, preaching every night.
Some have wondered about the value of these things. Some have wondered if the days of Gospel Meetings are over. Few visitors come. Often, many of the members do not come. Some see little good that comes from these efforts. Through the years, the length and concept of the meetings has changed. There was a time when they lasted two weeks or longer. Every night folks would gather down at the church house to listen to a visiting preacher. Then, in time, it was shortened to a week long meeting. In many places now, it’s Sunday to Wednesday or, Friday to Sunday. Some see where this may be headed. They fear that the time will come when they disappear all together. Is the Gospel Meeting on the endangered species list?
Here are some thoughts from my perspective about Gospel Meetings:
First, our world seems busier today. You’d think with all this modern technology, we’d have more time, but it’s just the opposite. We’ve squeezed more and more into our schedules and we are running all the time. Kids are busy these days. As soon as the school day ends, they are off to practice or a game somewhere. We seem to be working longer hours and doing more than ever before. All of this means that we are tired. Getting everyone down to the church building in the evening is a chore. It’s hard. By the end of the week, families are exhausted.
Second, good things happen when the word of God intersects with honest and good hearts. That’s the parable of the sower. The seed that was planted in the good soil produced a harvest. That still happens today spiritually. When men and women gather to listen to God’s word, good things happen. They are taught. They are challenged. They are reminded. Their fears and doubts are driven away. They build foundations upon the rock of Christ.
God hasn’t given up on preaching, even though the modern religious community has. From the early days of Noah, Moses, through the prophets, the apostles and of course, our Lord, God has sent forth preachers. The proclaiming of His word is the means that God chose to communicate. How will they believe without a preacher, is what our verse asks. God could have sent videos. He didn’t. He could have sent pictures in a book. He didn’t. He used words. Even when showing John the glories of Heaven, he was told to write in a book what he saw. He wasn’t told to draw pictures. Words. Words that carry meaning. Words that can be defined. Words that can be remembered. Words that can be quoted. Words that can be translated. Words that can be copied. The preached word is valuable to God and it must remain that way with His people.
Third, it’s good when the church gathers. I tend to think those early churches in Judea were found in places where folks saw each other every day. Back then, people went to the market every day. Every day you shopped for that day’s food. Every day you’d likely run into someone from the congregation. Today, we are spread out. Today, we may not run into each other until we are back at the church building. Being with each other several nights during a week is a good thing. Fellowship reminds us that we are not alone. Fellowship encourages us. The more we are with one another the greater our bonds and our love is for each other.
Fourth, listening to a different voice is helpful. We understand this in other areas of life. We don’t have one station on cable, there are hundreds. We don’t eat at the same place every time. We go to different places. A fresh voice can remind us of things that we know we ought to be doing. Getting to know and listen to other men who have studied and taught God’s word is helpful and good. Most of us preachers rarely get to hear anyone else. We are always preaching. It’s good for us to sit and listen. It’s good for us to see how others preach. We, also, learn and grow by listening to others.
Fifth, the purpose of meetings may have changed in recent years. There was a time when many visitors came to Gospel meetings. Many were converted to Christ in such endeavors. That doesn’t happen as much. This has caused some to wonder if the days of these meetings are over. Instead, the focus has turned to encouraging the church. Strengthen the brethren is what Paul did when he returned to some of the churches that he had started. We continue to do that today through the preaching of God’s word.
Are Gospel Meetings successful today? It’s hard to answer that unless a person first knows what’s the purpose and the intention of the meeting. If it’s to fill the house with visitors and convert many, then that tells you what kinds of sermons you expect and need. A church ought to pass that on to the visiting preacher. If the purpose is strengthen the church, then that tells you what kinds of sermons need to be preached. Success is determined if we reach our intended goal. Too often, there is no goal. A church has a Spring and Fall meeting just because they always have.
Adjustments in length, addressing the purpose will make these meetings more useful and helpful. Just to have one because we have always had one, is not a good reason. Consider different formats. Put some thought into who you are inviting. Find a theme that fits the church. Put thought, effort and energy behind the meeting.
Then, follow up. Did you get some visitors? Follow up with that. When the week is over, don’t act as if it never happened. Connect the next Sunday sermon to the meeting. Repeat some of the thoughts from the meeting week. Keep it going and build upon the momentum.
It’s good for the shepherds of a church to sit down with the visiting preacher and share ideas. Ask questions. Learn from each other. Help each other. We are all in the same kingdom and we all want the kingdom to grow.
In the Spring, the preachers went out to preach…