Reviving Gospel Meetings

Gospel Meeting??? What’s that?
(When a church invites a guest speaker to preach a series of biblical messages a few nights in a row). Originating in a period when our culture was without all the media and screens that entertain us, Gospel Meetings once held a place of respect and interest. Unchurched guests attended, connected with the message and committed to the host churches. Baptisms and re-commitments to Christ were normal occurrences as well. A large percent of church evangelism centered on inviting a friend to come to a gospel meeting. The Billy Graham campaigns were basically super sized “gospel meetings” hosted by several denominations (“revival” being the preferred term outside of churches of Christ). What’s happening with these today? How has evangelism taken a nose dive in today’s culture? What does God want us to do?

It happens every spring. Foliage is in full bloom. My car turns yellow-green with a film of pollen, each one a tiny suitcase of DNA so small you need a magnifier to see it. How many pieces of pollen does a typical pine or oak tree produce each year? What percentage of these get to a flower and actually fertilize a seed? How many acorns does a typical oak tree produce each year? How many acorns actually grow into another tree? What if the trees decided to stop wasting all that energy on pollen and seeds and focused on more “important” matters like wood production?
God designed the trees to generate a lot of pollen and seeds. Because they keep doing this, forests are filled with them. If they ever stop, when they die, the forest will die too.
I think Christians are called to follow this plan too. We need to scatter the seed of the word of God and not give up. Gospel meetings were seed spreading events. Now that they seem ineffective, what should we do? What does God want?

Bruce Leonard, from the Jasper Church of Christ spoke with me about doing a gospel meeting there next November. We talked about the details a bit and discussed this plan. (Nothing is set in stone here, just brainstorming).
They usually begin on Sunday and finish on Wednesday. We came up with this idea:
Do a meeting about making disciples for Jesus.
1. Begin on Wednesday – Friday teaching, equipping and motivating the congregation on what is, and how to share the gospel of Jesus Christ today.  Perhaps making Friday evening a prayer meeting where the congregation presents and prays over names of neighbors and friends that need to follow Christ.
2. Saturday morning meet and go out to the neighborhoods inviting everyone to come to the church that evening for a big cookout, games and dinner speech! Make it a fish fry or hamburgers and hotdogs or some other festive event with yard games and lots of interaction. The fun is the fruit.
3. The dinner speech is the sowing of the seed!
4. Invite everyone to come back Sunday for a celebration of worship and praise to the God who made us and sent Jesus to save us. This is the beginning of watering in preparation of God giving the increase.

Can this possibly work? Can God use something like this to revive evangelism in “gospel meetings?” This must all begin with prayer, asking, seeking, knocking that God prepare us and hearts of others for His saving work.

One more idea on the gospel meeting revival. Make the Saturday a “Neighbor Day” and do a VBS type plan with classes for kids of all ages where they go and eat, do crafts and have Bible class, while the adults eat together at the dinner speaker’s presentation of the gospel.

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Fall Small Group Lesson Guides

This Fall 2018 there’s another great lineup for our Small Group Ministry!

We will look at God’s plan for His people for eternity.  What happens after we leave this earthly home and move into our eternal dwellings!  What’s the Bible have to say about this?

The Study Guides for this are linked here.   Fall 2018 Group Study Guides pdf

Over eleven weeks from September into November these are the titles of the lessons:

  1. But will God really dwell on earth?
  2. Where are God’s people called to dwell?
  3. But how can sinners dwell in the presence of God?
  4. Buy what means are God’s people delivered to their dwelling?
  5. What are the origins of the church?
  6. The church as the Bride of Christ.
  7. The church as the Building of Christ.
  8. The church as the Body of Christ.
  9. The mission of the church.
  10. Breath of heaven.
  11. Paradise restored!

Make plans to be at every session and share in discovering God’s ultimate blessing for His people.

Prayer Partners

For those of us familiar with the “Crossroads Movement” and “Boston Movement” of the 1970’s and forward, the term “prayer partners” has received a black eye.  I will forgo the details, but the sad truth is that because of abuse of power and misuse of authority many heartbreaking scars and devastated relationships occurred.  The aftermath of which left many otherwise good and spiritually helpful practices with terrible reputations.  Among these practices to fall into disrepute was “prayer partners.”

I suppose that over the past 2000 years, just about everything we believe and do in the Christian faith has been considered dangerous by someone somewhere.   Consider today’s American shift toward embracing homosexual practice as a normal, healthy, morally upright lifestyle.  In light of our new legalization of so called, “gay marriage,” the biblical instruction that condemns such behaviors is considered not just out of touch, but hateful, bigoted and even dangerous. Christians who hold to biblical definitions of sexual moral practice now appear as extremists.  The pressure of culture has a powerful formation element for conformity to its own standards.  Woe to those who resist.

How does one withstand the pressures of ungodly hipster ways?  What mental, emotional and spiritual equipment do those need that would openly move in counter cultural ways?  In a world that sees only shades of gray, how can anyone declare things black or white?

The Bible gives us several examples of God’s servants who stood when all others sat, and who sat when all others stood, even at the risk of their lives.  And they did what they believed was God’s will in the midst of profound persecution.  This they did without pride or for material gain.  But almost all of them did it in company with at least one other person who stood beside them, or at the knowledge that others were in full support of them and in full agreement with them.

Prayer partnership supplies just such a strength.  Jesus sent his disciples out by twos.  Every example of mission work in scripture exhibits this companionship model of two or more.  I know of nothing like it as a source of strength for standing strong in the midst of the storms that blow against godliness and Christian faith.  In Genesis 2 God said, “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.”  This, in principle, is the beginning of prayer partnership.  Christ’s instruction to us is a “one another” system where each person is part of the body of Christ and each needs others to function.  Systems that have shaped the world have all been “one another” systems.  All systems have leaders and followers.  The Christian “system” is led by God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God Himself is a unity.  Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we who believe and become disciples through repentance and baptism into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, are united in Him and led by Him to live for Him, like Him, through Him, and with Him.  Our Christian unity with Christ unites us together by His Spirit through His word with one another.  Our unity in Christ empowers us to life and likeness with God’s own character of holiness.

Today’s worldly pressure is rising against the Christian character of God’s holiness.  We need to recover the equipment God has given us to be able to stand firm in the Lord and walk in His will when it is out of step with everyone around us.

What’s In the Bible for You?

2018 Chronological Bible Reading Schedule

2018 Spring Group Lessons

God has a plan.

His plan includes you.  If you are reading this, you are probably already looking for God’s plan for you.  My guess is that you intentionally opened this site because you are at least curious and maybe seriously seeking what God has in store for you.  I know one thing: God really wants good things for you.

The Bible is the book He has given us to lead us in His plan for us.  This book is beyond extraordinary, it is a God breathed work of divine origin, and it tell us that each one of us is also a God breathed work of divine origin!  We didn’t arrive here by accident.  We’re not simply highly organized matter somehow randomly gathered through time and chance to become living, thinking, responsible beings.  You and I are family!  We all came from one earthly father who was created by God, our Heavenly Father!   That’s how we got here in the first place.  It was good at first, in fact, it was so good that God Himself said that it was “very good.”  But, sadly it didn’t stay that way very long.

The Bible tells us (within a couple of pages) what our first human father and mother did that ruined things.  Our problems began with a bad decision based on a lie.  God had warned against it, but instead of trusting the words of God, our original mother and father listened to a lying snake, literally.  God called their disobedience to His word “sin,” and sin is deadly.  We’ve been haunted with sin ever since.  Sin separates us from God.  This separation brings death because God is the very source and sustainer of all life.  Without God, life would not and could not exist.

The Bible is God’s book that tells us who God is, where we came from, what our problems are and how God brings us back to Himself.  The Bible tells the story.

This year, our church family is reading through the Bible in a unique way.  It’s called a “Chronological Bible,” meaning that all the books and events within the Bible are organized in chronological order (see the above link for a reading schedule).  The Bible is a collection of 66 books or documents organized more by topic than by chronology.  The Bible includes history, law, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, romance, biography and letters. There are proverbs, songs, parables, personal letters, general letters, narratives, covenants and other literary styles within its pages.

Starting January 7, 2018 small groups will begin meeting here at the church building and in homes of members to share what we’ve discovered in each week’s readings.  (See the above link for the lesson guides).

This year as we read through the Bible together, we’ll be focusing on GOD’S SAVING MISSION.  God is our creator, and He is also our Savior.  This is one of the central themes of all the Bible.  God so loved us, He gave us His Son to save us from our sins and bring us to Himself and together as a family in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Won’t you join us?  You can get a Bible that’s organized chronologically.  We are using the One Year Chronological Bible for our readings

(click underlined above for a link to see one online).

Also, you can listen to this on your smartphone, tablet or computer, if you have the “YouVersion” app.  It is free and you just search for “Chronological bible” on your app to get two our three different options for this.

(click underlined above for a link to download YouVersion).

 

 

2018 Spring Group lesson guide

This year is our SAVING MISSION year!

We’re reading through the Bible in chronological order using the One Year Chronological Bible.  If you would like to read along with us, using your own Bible here’s a link to the reading schedule:

2018 Chronological Reading Schedule

Also, beginning on January 7, 2018 we will start our Small Groups up again!  In our groups we will be discussing our SAVING MISSION looking at God’s Word together and seeking to become a SAVING church family for God’s glory!

Here’s a link to the first six lessons:

2018 Spring Group Lessons

We are a kingdom family!

Seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness is clearly the first item of our mission!  Jesus began His ministry preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  This echoes John the Baptist’s same message.  In fact, Jesus will say in Matthew 24:14 that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

In Acts 1 we learn that during the 40 days after Jesus was raised but before He ascended, Jesus spoke with His disciples about the kingdom of God.  They wondered if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel!  Jesus didn’t answer this, but promised they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and they would be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.  This message of the kingdom was to be spread everywhere!

In Acts 8 Philip went to Samaria and in verse 12 we read: “When they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”  Then in Acts 14 after starting churches in Lystra, Iconic and Antioch, we read about how Paul and Barnabas (vs 22) strengthened the churches and encouraged them to remain true to the faith saying, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

Here we see that even though the kingdom was established on Pentecost, we must remain faithful and be willing to endure hardships before we can enter the kingdom of God.  In Acts 19 we read about how Paul went to Ephesus and in verse 8 it says: “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.”  Some years later, Paul gathered with the elders of the church at Ephesus and said, (Acts 20:25) “Now, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”  As we finish the book of Acts in chapter 28, Paul is in Rome under arrest as a prisoner awaiting trial before Caesar.  There we read in verse 23: from morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  Finally, in the last verse of Acts (28:31) we read: Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, what’s impressive to me is that instead of preaching the four spiritual laws, or the scheme of redemption, or the Roman road to heaven, or some other modern method of evangelism, THEY PROCLAIMED THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

Perhaps we’d do well to follow this lead and do the same.  Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…  Maybe we should preach first the same.

To do this, we must know what it is.

2017 Group Discussion Guides

Fall Small Groups begin September 10!  Closer to God and closer together is our mission as we share God’s word, prayer and fellowship.  God’s plan for His people continues as we begin part five of our Fall Group Ministry: From the First Commission to the Great Commission.  We’ll be in the gospels together sharing Jesus and our lives in Him.

Click below for the Discussion Guides:

Fall 2017 Small Group Lessons

Our Seeking, Saving, Serving Mission Song

This is my amateur songwriter’s attempt to make our mission statement into something that might stick in our churches memory.  Hopefully the kids can pick up on the message and carry it forward.

Our SEEKING, SAVING SERVING Mission Song

We are called by the Father
to become like Christ, His Son.
We are born by His Spirit
and He gives us this mission:

To be: SEEKING the kingdom of God and His righteousness (x3)
SEEKING our King in hope.

To be: SAVING the lost by His grace as we share His word (x 3)
SAVING by grace through faith.

To be: SERVING like Him with His love as His hands and feet (x 3)
SERVING like Him with love.

We are God’s chosen people
we are now His royal priests
we are God’s holy nation
and our mission has not ceased!

We are:
SEEKING the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
SAVING the lost by His grace as we share His word.
SERVING like Him with His love as His hands and feet.
This is our mission song.