I have just finished a gospel meeting at the HUEYTOWN (AL) CHURCH OF CHRIST, where MEETINGS ARE STILL A BIG DEAL. The folks there talked up the meeting, advertised it in every way possible, and showed genuine EXCITEMENT for what was to take place. By the time I got there, they were on their tiptoes, eagerly anticipating the beginning of the meeting. Even the children were excited!
In an age when brethren generally don't get very "enthused" about gospel meetings any more, this is refreshing. Gospel meetings should be a big deal. They provide us with a week of extra opportunities for worship, study, and reaching out to our friends and neighbors with the gospel. What could be more exciting? If we now have so many other things going on in our lives that excitement about these congregational events is diluted and drained away, then I suggest we need to take steps to RECOVER THE EAGERNESS THAT THEY USED TO GENERATE.
Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I fondly remember when meetings were greatly anticipated. The leadership of a congregation would begin talking about a meeting long before it arrived. Plans would be made. Preparation would be engaged in. Excitement would build. And by the time the event arrived, everybody was looking forward to SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL HAPPENING.
Nowadays, some congregations struggle even to fill up a meal list for the visiting preacher, even for shorter meetings. The excitement is gone, and I, for one, believe that this is a tragic loss.
At Hueytown, there is still an "old-fashioned" approach to meetings. For this particular meeting, they advertised on the radio. They put up yard signs all over town. They handed out flyers and cards publicizing the meeting. They invited acquaintances. With connections at City Hall, they even were able to announce the meeting on the "Welcome to Hueytown" sign on the main street coming into town. As a result of all this preparation, we had a tremendous meeting, with some good study contacts being made which they can follow up on in the coming weeks.
One dear sister told me that she had been inviting people to gospel meetings for 40 years, and this was the first time anybody ever came that she had asked. That's what it takes: a decision to maintain our excitement for the gospel, so that we keep "asking" and "asking" and "asking" for however long it takes to find that one person who will say yes. We can't allow ourselves to "grow weary while doing good" (Galatians 6:9). WE'VE GOT TO KEEP AT IT!
So, thank you Hueytown, Alabama! I was told by people elsewhere that I was in for a treat this week, and believe me, "treat" turned out to be an understatement. God bless you for your persistent work throughout the many years of your history. I feel honored to have been a part of your work for a few days, and I appreciate the example that you set for the rest of us in this busy age.