Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Standing Together

This past Sunday I had the privilege of worshiping with my grandparents at the Greenbrier church of Christ in Greenbrier, Arkansas. Sunday evening, the young men led the worship, and three of the young men spoke. The first of the boys spoke for a few minutes on being a servant. The next one discussed the sin of pride. The third gave a talk about being an example for Christ. He offered the invitation.

As the invitation song was sung, all three of the young men stood up together. They all had decided before hand that they would all be willing to stand up front to receive anyone who might respond. I thought this was extraordinary. It takes courage and maturity to make this kind of decision. It would be very encouraging to have three people there to greet you and help you if you were to respond to the invitation.

I have often thought about what the church could do better in different areas of worship and service. One of the things that could be better is the way we offer the invitation to respond to the gospel. People in the pews have become so unresponsive over the years. When the preacher winds down the sermon, people start shuffling. They start taking their song books out (unless they have the songs projected on the screen). When the church stands for the invitation, people mostly walk to the back of the building, not the front. So many things can distract a person from becoming a Christian or asking for prayers.

But what if three or four people were there up front to help you? What if the elders came forward or the ministers came forward every Sunday together, to stand and encourage anyone who needs to make a change? I think every congregation should consider this idea. I thought it was a very powerful example set by these young men, to stand together. It reminded me that we are really always standing together. We are all sinners and we all need help and we always need to be there for each other.

I believe more people will respond to the invitation, when preachers stop mailing in their sermons and they become more passionate, when elders impress upon the people their need to be obedient, and when the church as a whole becomes more loving, and inviting, and encouraging to those who respond. We have some work to do in this area. We need to stand together.

"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" ~ Philippians 1:27

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