Aggravating a Problem
George T. Eldridge
Absenteeism is one of the several mighty problems tormenting God's church today. This sinful problem could become more intensified in 1971 and coming years because of the "Monday Holiday" law passed by Washington, D.C. in 1968. It became effective January 1, 1971. This federal law permanently establishes four Monday holidays by shifting the dates of certain holidays to a fixed Monday. This means there will be at least five three day week-ends every year when you count Labor Day, which traditionally falls on the first Monday in September.
Federal Public Holidays
Here are the federal public holidays for 1971 with an asterisk for the "Monday Holiday" ones:
New Year's Day (Friday, January 1)
Washington's Birthday (third Monday in February) * ~
Memorial Day (last Monday in May)*
Independence Day (Sunday, July 4)
Labor Day (Monday, September 6)
Columbus Day (second Monday in October) *
Veterans Day (fourth Monday in October) *
Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 25)
Christmas Day (Saturday, December 25), Columbus Day was made a national holiday for the first time by the "Monday Holiday" law.
Mini-Vacations - Many employees get (1) Monday off when a holiday falls on Sunday, (2) Friday off when the holiday falls on Thursday, and (3) either Friday or Monday off when a holiday falls on Saturday. The Mini-Vacation, which is at least a three day week-end, is now a reality!! On top of nine possible Mini-Vacations in 1971, some companies create more long week-ends by giving employees as holidays the Monday_ after Easter Sunday, Good Friday, and other "floating holidays."
Acceptance of "Monday Holidays"
Legally,' the "Monday Holiday" law applies only to the District of Columbia and federal employees, wherever they are living, but the states are scrambling to conform. Thirty-five states as of November 9, 1970 have passed "Monday Holiday" laws in conformity to the federal lineup. Surveys show that ten other states are going along in a limited fashion. Some will not observe Columbus Day, for instance, yet! In the South, Confederate Memorial Day will fall on a different date. The surveys show that Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin have not yet accepted the new calendar of federal "Monday Holidays."
Churches of Christ
"Monday Holidays" and Mini-Vacations add salt to the absenteeism wound and extra allurement to the sinful problem as more Christians are going to be tempted greatly to yield to absenteeism. Churches of Christ face a climatic situation in 1971 and onward as they meet on the Holy Spirit revealed first day of the week, plan their traditionally two gospel meetings per year, and strive to have more meetings each year directed to baptized believers and alien sinners. As more businessmen, labor unions, travel organizations and hotel and resort owners continue to go on record as favoring the "Monday Holiday" law and Mini-Vacations, how can the church face the problem with boldness and confidence?
Ungodly Solutions. Placing one's head in the sand will not solve the problem nor bring salvation to lost souls. Also, this problem is not faced by saying it will go away, mocking those who buy recreation equipment, or do not preach on it. The church could dismiss all Sunday services and be certain to never hold a gospel meeting during, a three day weekend. Though this is what the practitioner of absenteeism teaches by his behavior, we must not yield to this sin nor compromise the Word of God. Likewise, we must not do as Audie McKee reported some "churches of Christ" of Murray, Kentucky were doing for the week-enders at Kentucky Lake. They took Sunday church services to them and invited them to come as they were dressed!! This, too, would bring the wrath of God upon us. We have not mentioned all the ungodly solutions that some brethren will try, but we can be certain man-made answers will come and they will make God's church "like all the nations" (I Sam. 8:5).
Scriptural Solutions. We must face the problem head-on as well as see the fact that we have not properly handled the weekenders, who existed long before the "Monday Holiday" law was passed. Also, one individual or two, regardless of whether they are the elders or the preacher, cannot handle the problem nor solve it by themselves alone. Why? "For the body is not one member, but many." (I Cor. 12:24) Members, other than the preacher, must be concerned for the cause of Christ, the purity of the gospel of Christ, and be stirred to action. Listen further to the teaching of the Holy Spirit. " From whom, all the body being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands increaseth with the increase of God" (Col. 2:19). God expressed basically the same thought in Eph. 4:16. "From whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several parts, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love." Paul's metaphor is indeed apt for our generation in teaching us how the growth of the body occurs! We have too long neglected this God breathed instruction. The preacher by himself cannot get the church increasing "with the increase of God."
Church Needs, and Who Supplies Them. "From Whom" refers directly to the head of the church, who is Christ (Col. 2:19, Eph. 4:15, and Eph. 1:22-23). Whatever the church needs in being supplied, knit together and fitly framed, Christ and only Christ is the source and provider. In order to better understand and fully appreciate the needs of the church, the following three words will be defined. "Being supplied," epichoregeo, means "to supply, furnish, present, ministered unto, assisted" (Thayer, page 246). "Knit together," sumbibazo means "to cause to coalesce, to join together, put together" (Thayer, page 595). "Fitly framed," sunarmologeo, means "to join closely together; to frame together" (Thayer, page 60 1). Let the brethren, always know assuredly the Bible is the book in which Jesus "hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).
How Christ Provides for the Church. Through whom does Christ provide the needs of the church? The passages say "through the joints and bands" and "according to the working in due measure of each several part." The joints, bands and each several part are not just preachers. Though such godly men are included, joints, bands and each several part have direct reference to the members of the church, baptized believer"!! Absenteeism is not a problem when members increase in the Word of God because "the number of the disciples" will be multiplying (Acts 6:7). When time of the members,' is involved in going "about preaching the Word," the church will be "the sect . . . that is everywhere . . . spoken against" and will become "an example to all that believe" (Acts 8:4, Acts 28:22, and I Thess. 1: 7). This then is the Bible solution to our peculiar problem and all problems or difficulties facing God's people.
Can It Be Done Today? Yes! Members of the 1971 church can he stirred up, activated, motivated, and agitated. The Bible, even today, still "is the power of God unto 3alvation" (Rom. 1: 16). It, in 1911, "is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). Members will not be stirred up by (1)'fewer gospel meetings (two or less per year), (2) gospel meeting8directly solely to aliens when there is not one in the house, (3) gospel meetings held without any planning, purpose, prayer, or personal invitations, (4) the preacher working to do it by himself, or (5) changing preachers every two to seven years.
Members can be activated by more preaching of God's Word aimed to their needs and with "chief men among the brethren" standing up and speaking up in business meetings mid private conversations. With godly men like these, preachers will get the encouragement and support they sorely need. Likewise, such men will aid greatly in getting a program of work going that will involve many members in going from house to house to teach the aliens, restore the erring, comfort the bereaved, succor the weeping, stop the mouths of tale-bearers and rumor-mongers, and strengthen those who are "weak in faith." With such a program supported by men of vision, common sense, and judgment, there will not be many members caught in the web of materialism, pleasureism, recreationalism, absenteeism" or inactivity-ism. Also, schedule gospel meetings during a few of these MiniVacations with much emphasis on door to door knocking. This will tell the members there is spiritual work to be done and an opportunity is afforded them to really aid in increasing the attendance, their knowledge of the Bible, and their zeal in the most holy faith. With many members activated, continually being motivated, and influenced for good by the "chief men," the body wil] "increase with the increase of God" (Col. 2:19). How is the church where you live weathering the storm of absenteeism?
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 31, pp. 9-10