Wayne S. Walker
It used to be that if a church announced a gospel meeting, people from congregations, not only near-by but eighty to one hundred miles away, would be there as often as possible. Even today in regions where the church is not strong and the closest group of Christians is at least seventy-five miles off, brethren think nothing of making a two-hour trip to attend, going to someone's house afterwards to talk for a while, and then making the two-hour drive home again. Yet very few of us can find the time in our busy, workaday schedule to attend the meetings of churches less than an hour's distance or even those in the same metropolitan area! "But," someone might ask, "the local congregation of which I am a member did not plan this activity; why should I go?" Good question -- why should you go?
1. To worship God. It seems to me that a person who is a genuine Christian, who has truly given his life to Christ, who really loves the Lord with all his heart, would want to praise his Creator and his Savior with other faithful saints every chance he could get. Gospel meetings give us such a chance in addition to our regular assemblies. Why waste them if we can go. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God."
2. To support the preaching of the gospel. It is much easier for a preacher to preach when he has someone to preach to. And the more present the better! Paul indicated that we should pray for preachers. Is it not somewhat hypocritical to make a pretense in prayer - "God, bless thy ministering servants everywhere and give them courage to uphold the blood-stained banner of Christ," etc. - and then fail to do our part to encourage them when we have the opportunity? One way we can show our support for a faithful gospel preacher and his message is by going to hear him when he preaches. "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things."
3. To associate with fellow-Christians. We are commanded to "love the brotherhood." It is a fact that we can love our brethren in other places better the more we get to know them. We should be interested in the work of the Lord in every place, and attending meetings provides an occasion to learn of what the church is doing elsewhere, to become acquainted with those who make it up, and to encourage saints in their efforts. It will show how much love and concern we have for the children of God.
4. To study God's word and be edified. As Christians who are to "grow in grace and knowledge," we should seek to engage in periods of Bible study as often as we can. Faith comes by hearing, so it would seemingly follow that the more we hear, the stronger our faith Will be. At least, it ought to be that way. The time spent in listening to the preaching of the gospel in meetings will build us up in the word and exhort our souls to more diligent service in the kingdom. All of us certainly need that!
Spring and fall are generally considered the "meeting seasons." So the next time they roll around, set aside some time and make plans to attend a night or two of each of the meetings in your area that you can. You will be stronger, the preacher and the brethren will be encouraged, and God will be glorified. And if you are thinking, "I need to spend some time with my family instead," take them with you. Driving to and from the meeting in the car will give you more actual time to be with your family than sitting in front of a television all evening.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 3, p. 83