Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Standing Outside

While in a gospel meeting this past week at a country congregation I was standing in the foyer with some of the men as we talked about days gone by. I had been asking some about the history of their congregation. We were talking about attendance and gospel meetings...the normal conversation that takes place on such occasions. One of the older members mentioned that he remembered the time when they used to prop up the side windows of the building, even in the heat of summer, and how people would flock to the gospel meeting every night. He said there would be more people standing outside the building, trying to hear the gospel, than there would be people inside! The building just could not hold all the people who wanted to be there.

We all know how much things have changed. These days it is hard to fill any church building on any day. A friend of mine who preaches told me that one of the deacons at his congregation admitted that he would not attend a Monday night of a gospel meeting even if Paul, the apostle, was the speaker! I could write a whole book about what is wrong about that attitude, but I will abstain. I try to write encouraging articles with positive messages. I am not here to beat and batter people into submission to the will of God. (That method does not work).

The bottom line is that we have allowed differing forms of entertainment to become more important to us than hearing the gospel. What I am about to write is going to be very unpopular, but I promise it is with love and concern and much prayer and thought that this comes to you. Ball games and recitals and school programs cannot be compared to the importance of worship. I will take an evening at a gospel meeting with my family over any baseball game, concert, movie, or what have you. Your kids will grow up and the only thing that will matter is whether or not you taught them that God is more important than everything else.

Over the years, parents and grandparents have gotten offended at statements and articles and sermons directed at this topic. Please don't be! I don't always have my priorities in the right place either. Believe me, every sermon I preach and article I write is directed at me first. I have learned through the years, however, that these same parents and grandparents cry every Sunday and Wednesday when the gospel is preached because their kids and grandkids are no longer faithful to the church. They have either just stopped going or they are worshiping at congregations that are more "user friendly."

There was a time when we used to stand outside to hear the gospel. But today, too many people would rather stand outside and be entertained than sit inside to worship God. We need to be careful. Standing outside may eventually be an eternal problem.

Judgement is surely coming, coming to you and me
We'll be judged that morning for all eternity
Some will go to heaven, others will be denied
Will you be in that number standing outside?

~  J. A. McClung (1932)


  1. As an elder I recently had a sermon on this very issue. It was a lesson on priorities. We have a few families who's children play on what they call traveling teams, basketball and baseball. They are gone for weeks at a time. All of them will say, we go to worship when we are gone. Thats great, but what good are they to their home congregation? They can't be counted on for anything. As I pointed out, it seems the kids run the family, what ever the kids want they get. The point of the lesson was, fathers, lead your families, it's your responsibility to train them up in the ways of the Lord, so do it.