Why We Are Failing
Thomas C. Hickey, Jr.
It is my very firm belief that churches today are failing to do their very best. We are not availing ourselves of the opportunities that are ours. In our age we have the very best forms of transportation and communication t h a t have ever been made available for the use of mankind: yet we are falling far short of accomplishing even as much as was accomplished in the early pioneer days of preaching here in our country. Why?
I feel the answer is fairly simple. We are simply not making use of our opportunities! The average American home is filled with laborsaving devices and with all sorts of gadgets to make living more comfortable. Nearly every home has radio, television, telephone, and even other communicative devices. The use we make of these, however, is largely material. We listen to music, sporting events, news, weather reports, etc. Around ourselves and our families we heap every conceivable form of luxury...for the gratification of the desires of the body.
But...when someone suggests that radio might be used as a medium through, which to preach the gospel, we decline to do so. Radio, it is said, is no longer effective as a means of preaching the gospel. If we suggest preaching via television, it is said to be too expensive. No good will come of circulating printed papers for no one will read them, we are told Many brethren are beginning to reason that gospel meetings are becoming ineffective, thus constituting waste. (Long ago, sectarian bodies decided that night services were unnecessary. After all, folks won't come.)
Centuries ago the Lord said, "for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (Luke 16:8). How true this is!
If it is good, wise, and right for brethren to surround their families with thousands of dollars worth of luxuries, why is it wrong for the church to spend a few hundred dollars to preach the gospel? Is it unwise and improper for the gospel to be preached?
I wish here to quote an article, which was written concerning a gospel meeting held in Indiana in 1869:
"On Tuesday night, March 23rd. 1809 our meeting at Bloomington. Indiana. of seventeen weeks and two days closed resulting in 224 additions. About 12 from the Baptists and 30 from the Methodists, while both sects were holding protracted meetings during part of the time. More than 100 were heads of families, and near the meridian of life, and of the most respectable citizens. No excitement at any time, and not more than six additions at any meeting, and yet the interest continued to the close and the auditorium was all the time filled, often a number having to go away for want of room. William Black preached 147 sermons, the last as interesting as the first. The church, now numbering 500 members, has been greatly edified and manifest more of the apostolic love and ardour, than is to be seen anywhere in this country. None of us ever witnessed a meeting of such zeal and interest, or a preacher of such untiring energy.
May we hold fast the begun confidence firm to the end, and all be congregated around the throne of God forever." (The foregoing is an excerpt from an article by Raymond Muncy of Bloomington, Indiana.)
Some brethren today are saying that gospel meetings accomplish nothing. I charge that few have been held in recent years. Most churches nowadays barely introduce a speaker to his audience, then the "meeting" is over. I am not afraid to make the charge that there is likely not a church of the Lord anywhere in America, which has enough faith and interest to conduct a meeting like this. I am quite sure that I have never been associated with one. Furthermore, it would likely be difficult to find a preacher with enough interest to be willing to preach such a meeting. If such a meeting could be held we should likely see a duplication of the same results that were experienced in 1869.
The preaching of the Lord's will is not without results. Isaiah 55:8 says, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return into me void but it shall accomplish that which I please and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I have sent it. "
Jesus said. 'It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall be all taught of God.' Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" (John 6:45).
Do we believe the Bible when it tells us that it is necessary to teach the word of the Lord in order to save men from their sins? If (I say IF) we believe it, then why don't we do something about it?
The church of the Lord began with 120 apostles, prophets, and teachers being set into the church by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1 & 2: I Cor. 12: 28) and in one day made 3,000 converts! The church of the Lord today has more than 7,000 men who are being supported to do the work of evangelists in America. In addition, there are thousands of others who are serving as elders and teachers in the church. Yet, there probably has never been a day in our lifetimes when 3,000 people obeyed the gospel in one day!
IS IT NOT TIME THAT WE TOOK STOCK?
Truth Magazine VII: 9, pp. 13-14