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Contemporary Issues (2): Other Means of Reaching the Lost

D West, Leicester

1. "Open Air" Meetings

We must not forget that the commission of the risen Lord to his disciples was, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk 16.15) not, "Invite people to come to a convenient gathering centre to hear the gospel preached".

Some assemblies conduct a regular, sometimes weekly, "open air" meeting. This usually takes place within the vicinity of the Gospel Hall, and, in certain instances, permission has been granted for amplifying equipment to be used. Messages are usually quite brief, no longer than five to seven minutes and an invitation is given to attend the gospel meeting held in the Hall. Sadly, there is increasing opposition to this type of meeting by residents living in the locality of the preaching, and much wisdom is needed by brethren in order to avoid provoking those in the area to the extent that approaches are made to the local authorities to stop such a work.

In the present day, many assemblies are numerically small and feel that they are not able to sustain such an "open air" testimony.

The assembly of which the present writer is a member does endeavour to maintain an "open air" witness. During the months of May–September, on about eight or nine occasions, a meeting is held in the city centre (within half a mile of the Gospel Hall) from approximately 6.40–7.25pm on a Lord's Day evening instead of the normal gospel meeting inside the Hall. Permission to conduct such meetings has been obtained, in advance, from the Local Authorities and from the local Police Constabulary. Usually five speakers (previously designated) take part, each preaches for about five to seven minutes; no hymns are sung (we are not there to entertain), and a prayer meeting has already been held in the Gospel Hall prior to going out. Over the years, several interesting (and interested) contacts have been made.

2. Meetings in Senior Citizens' Homes

Many assemblies have opportunities to preach the gospel on a regular basis (weekly, every fortnight, or monthly) in such homes. Hymns are sung; many of these older folk will have attended Sunday School as children, and some will have had "church" connections and are therefore acquainted with the "good old gospel hymns". A brief gospel message is given. The results are left with the Lord Himself.

3. Openings in Schools

Several full-time workers are able to enter schools regularly to take "assemblies" and also to teach "Christianity" in religious education classes. In the latter case, a curriculum has often to be followed but, nevertheless, opportunities are taken to make known the gospel to children who would never attend a Sunday School. Increasingly, members of local assemblies who are free during the day (especially retired persons) are able to carry out a similar effort in their locality. It appears that those in positions of authority in schools are more than ready to offload such "work".

4. Bible Exhibitions

This is not unrelated to 3 above. There are now a few such exhibitions of excellent quality which have been put together by brethren from assemblies of the Lord's people, e.g from Ayrshire, Aberdeenshire, Bromborough, and Hildenborough. These may be taken into schools or, for a period of a week or so, be housed in a Gospel Hall and schoolchildren and folk living in the locality are invited at specified times to view the exhibition. As visitors are escorted round in groups by believers, the gospel of the grace of God can be clearly presented. Thousands of children and many adults, who would not normally hear the message of salvation, have been reached in this way.

5. Tract Distribution

Surely it is the responsibility of each local assembly to distribute gospel tracts to every home in the locality of the assembly on a regular, systematic basis. Records should be kept of the frequency of visits made. Consideration should be made from time to time to widening the area covered. Some assemblies have made the effort to design a tract that is in keeping with the history or the geography of the locality.

Review of Gospel Effort

It is encumbent on each local assembly to review its "gospel effort". If no unbelievers are attending the "conventional" gospel meeting then a different form of outreach should be considered. Perish the thought that we sit back complacently and feel that we have done what we could by going through the motions of "having a gospel meeting at 6.30pm on a Lord's Day evening".



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