I make a notation “GM” along with the date and place on the paper copy of my sermons to indicate that I preached that sermon in a gospel meeting. It is one of my homemade preacher shorthand notations. Growing up a “PK” (“preacher’s kid,” of course), I’ve got a lot of GM memories. I would not trade anything for them, especially the indelible imprint they made on me in shaping the adult I have become. Let me encourage you to bring your children and yourselves to our gospel meetings for what they will mean to your faith and for the part of you they will forever become. To me, the GM of gospel meeting stands for a few other things, too.
• Great Memories. When James Watkins held a meeting for us in 1984 in Franklin, Ga., I led singing that Sunday night. I was 14, and this participation was a big deal to me. I led, “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” and in verse three mistakenly bellowed out, “All ye fruitless trees and cedars.” Once when the air conditioner was out, we opened the side doors on either side of the pulpit for relief in that muggy July, west Georgia heat. This was an open invitation for the horse fly that landed on the calf of my leg during the chorus of “the song before our opening prayer,” which bit mercilessly until I could swat it during said prayer (which was by no means a quiet slap).
I remember attending a meeting in Carrollton, Georgia, and being jolted by Bobby Duncan’s dramatic cries of “the boy is home!” in his powerful telling of the story of the prodigal son. I remember, though, I was no more than 5 or 6, the smell of hay and watching members set up a portable baptistery for a tent meeting my dad preached in Aragon, Ga. I remember the family car rides when we rode to others’ meetings. I remember the baptisms, restorations, preaching, and fellowship so much a part of these special times.
• Giant Men. Through this venue I first became acquainted with men who became my heroes: Frank Chesser, Perry Cotham, Howard Swann, James Watkins, Bobby Duncan, Truman Cobb, Franklin Camp, Winfred Clark, Wendell Winkler, Glen Posey, Ken Thomas, V.P. Black and others. I remember playing basketball with Ken Thomas, who had to play in his socks and still took us all to school (he also demolished me in a game of “punt, pass, and kick”). I recall having me heart stirred and being convicted of sin by the penetrating preaching of Frank Chesser.
I vividly recall being amazed by Perry Cotham, who seemed to me even three decades ago to be a very old preacher (I saw him preach in California when he was in his late 90s). I will never forget being touched by Franklin Camp’s tender heart as he told the story of Christ’s crucifixion. I was wowed by J.J. Turner’s ability to turn a phrase. There was the time when I walked by James Watkins’ hotel room and saw him diligently studying his Bible in the middle of the afternoon. These men were spiritual giants to me.
• Gospel Message. Even as a child, I learned so much from the sermons I heard. I saw things in a new way because every preacher has his own unique style, history of study, and method of delivery. I was challenged by the Bible-centered approach these men faithfully took. I got my first glimpse at sermon organization, taking crude notes and main points from sermonic masterpieces. Meeting after meeting, year after year turned my heart and mind more and more to the Bible. Even then, I saw, at least to a juvenile degree, the effectiveness of this method of evangelism and edification.
Give your children, your mate, your non-Christian friends and neighbors, and yourself the pleasure of experiencing these unparalleled joys. The Godhead and the heavenly host pay particular interest to each service of every gospel meeting. Let us join them there and grow from hearing anew the wonderful story of love. It will stay with you for a lifetime.
Two wonderful upcoming events should have us excited! Vacation Bible School is a prime opportunity for us to be evangelistic with our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. It showcases the many talented people we have in our education program for children and it is always pulled off in an impressive way. Our seminar/gospel meeting will be conducted by one of the most engaging, genuine preachers among us. Steve Higginbotham will do an outstanding job. There are several things we can do, but this Saturday’s door-knocking can accomplish so much to try and draw our nearest community neighbors to both these events. May I make a personal appeal to you to be at our building this Saturday at 1 P.M. To encourage you, consider three brief and true statements.
- It Is Easy. We are not setting up Bible studies. We are simply inviting (or leaving fliers at the door if they are not home). A quick, pleasant “hello” and statement of what we are inviting them to attend is all you need to know. If you have access to small children, they always serve as an excellent buffer. But, no matter your age or degree of cuteness, you will find this the easiest evangelizing you will ever do.
- It Is For You. Door-knocking is not just for the students, preachers, elders, or teens. Parents, deacons, men, women, middle-aged folks, young adults, professionals, unprofessionals, blue-collar, white-collar, tall, short, fat, skinny, and if there be any other category, your presence is vital to the success of this. So often, we assume others will do the work. Please do not make this assumption. If you are tempted to feel that way, know that others share that struggle. Encourage somebody else. Call or email them and tell them you are coming and ask them to come, too.
- It Is Important. You may be helping somebody take their first step toward heaven. You might find somebody who has been searching for truth. You may knock the door of somebody who has been struggling and looking for answers. God may use you this Saturday to save a soul! How wonderful to be able to face our dear Savior some day having taken opportunities like this Saturday to expose people to the Lord’s church.
I feel pretty confident that you will not regret participating in this Saturday’s mass inviting. It will require a little time, gas, and energy, but it is also one of those things that just leaves you feeling like you have helped the Lord a little in His mission of reaching the lost. My highest hope is that I will see you this Saturday at 1 P.M. as we try to take greater Bear Valley for Christ!