I had a message from a preacher friend essentially asking, “What’s going on over there?” He was hearing about baptisms, responses to the invitation, large crowds..how are you doing it? I think the Lord has blessed us with an exceptionally good gospel meeting, so I got to thinking about what made this series so successful. Here are a few thoughts for your serious consideration about what makes a great gospel meeting:
Great gospel meetings have solid, hard-hitting Bible preaching. Gospel meetings are not the result of emotionalism or denominationalism. It makes no difference how many people respond to the message, if the message is not biblical. Our goal is not simply to make converts, but to make converts to Jesus Christ! Our nation is full of people who are devoted to various causes, including religious causes. But what is needed is people who are devoted to serving Jesus Christ, and to get there it’s going to take Bible preaching.
Great gospel meetings have preaching directed squarely at the issues of our day. So much of the preaching going on in our pulpits might be more at home in a specialized Bible class. Not that such subjects are unimportant or unbiblical, but we need to get back to some very basic fundamentals in this country. We are surrounded by secular humanists, atheists who do not even acknowledge the existence of God, much less respect the teaching of the Bible. Successful gospel meetings direct people back to the basics, and why it matters in the first place that we accept the reality of God and the authority of his word.
Great gospel meetings are exciting. The congregation gets behind them, and the members are engaged, excited, inviting their friends and neighbors. The crowds are large and the parking lot is full. Members are greeting visitors, giving them a seat, learning who they are and how the church can help them. The meal sign-up list is filled, even though barely announced.
Great gospel meetings are well planned, prayed for, and well publicized. Signs have been made and posted. Flyers and brochures have been printed and distributed in the community, to the mailing list, by email, by Facebook, and by each member handing and sending them out. The church is paying the postage for anyone who can’t afford it. When all of the invite cards are used up, more are ordered and eagerly taken by the members and used. Few, if any, are left over. The lesson subjects are ascertained long in advance, and advertised. And you can tell by looking at the subjects that the messages will be spot-on relevant. You also hear mention made of the meeting in the public prayers of the church, and you know the members have been praying about it for a long time.
Great gospel meetings target the young people. The lessons are presented in terms they can relate to and appreciate. The subjects involve issues they are dealing with in school and in their own lives. They are inspired to see the reality of God’s truth, and that they can actually get this and share it with their friends.
Great gospel meetings are tiring. They may mess up the church building a bit, make you run short on some things like sleep, energy, paper towels in the restrooms, food at the fellowship dinner, time to respond to texts and emails, and note paper. But it’s a good kind of tired, sort of like you feel after a week at camp.
Great gospel meetings build up the church. Not only the local congregation, for the reasons stated above, but also all of the sister congregations to the extent they support the meeting. Ties of fellowship and faith are strengthened. Levels of Bible knowledge and application are deepened. Eyes are opened to the work and needs of others, and the church becomes a better place.
Warning: Great gospel meetings get Satan riled up. He’s not happy about them and he will put out a bushel of lies like you have never seen. He will convince many that gospel meetings are no longer effective. He will convince many others that they are too busy to attend them or support them. He will encourage the weak members to fear growth and to be satisfied with the status quo. And he will especially direct his efforts at the new Christians and young people.
But if we labor for the Master, he will bless our efforts in ways we cannot even imagine. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21).
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.