In the past few weeks, two of the congregations where I have spoken have planned MORNING SERVICES DURING THEIR MEETINGS in addition to the usual evening services. I REALLY LIKE THIS IDEA.
In the past, this practice was common, but few congregations do it any more. Even in the heyday of gospel meetings, not as many of the members could be present for the morning services, but congregations felt that it was worth doing for however many could come, whether many or few.
Last week, in Hueytown AL, one of the ladies in the congregation told me that she had taken vacation time from her job so that she could attend the morning services as well as those in the evening. If more of us had that kind of interest in the Lord's work, our gospel meetings would be very different experiences than they often are these days.
Because of the smaller attendance, morning services often end up feeling more like an "Bible class" than a "sermon." That informality, along with the freshness of the morning hour, make them a special treat. I've always enjoyed meetings that included morning services, and I still do. I recommend it to congregations that have never done it as well as those that used to do it but have abandoned the practice. Try it again at your next meeting, and see if it doesn't add to the value of the week as a whole.
Yes, you will be "worn out" at the end of the week (and the preacher will be exhausted too), but folks, there is simply no better "tired" in the world than the kind of tired you get in the Lord's work. I would suggest that even your kids need to learn what this kind of tired is all about. It should be a part of their memories of your home -- much more than memories of being worn out after a school trip, a sports camp, or a family vacation. Believe me: kids are hardy creatures. They will survive the "grueling" schedule of a busy gospel meeting week. Contrary to what others may have told you, IT WILL NOT KILL THEM.
One of the things that concerns me about some of our trends toward "non-traditionalism" is that these trends always seems to involve CUTTING BACK and DOING LESS than we've done in the past. Once in a while, why can't we "break with tradition" in the direction of DOING MORE? That would be a radical idea, wouldn't it?
So give morning services, or classes, a try at your next gospel meeting. If only a handful can be present, that's okay. Small-group Bible studies can be very profitable. And if the congregation doesn't want to do it, why not ask the visiting preacher if he will come to your HOME each morning and teach, for the benefit of anyone who might come?
Elders, if you go to the expense of bringing in a visiting speaker for a week (or even half a week), why not maximize your use of this speaker by using him more than just at the evening hour? if you've got a speaker who wants to be paid for a week's work but only wants to speak or teach once a day, at the evening hour, then I suggest you've got the wrong guy. Get somebody who's willing to spend and be spent!