by Keith Parker
On September 16, 2011 our first grandchild, Eden Claire, was born. What a blessing to see our family grow! On November 14, 2011 (last night), Angelo Bailey from Bowling Green, Kentucky was born again. What a blessing to see God's family grow!
For the last three years, I have been going all over America preaching the gospel in evangelistic efforts. From California to the Carolinas, from the Florida Keys to the key cities in Alaska, I have preached in about 150 different congregations. The week of evangelism is usually called a gospel meeting or a revival or a campaign for Christ. I have had the precious privilege of witnessing over 1300 respond for public prayer and over 140 sinners born into the family of God. If a sinner is born once, he’ll die twice. If he’s born twice, he’ll die once (John 3:1-5). There is nothing that will excite and bless a local church any more than for sinners to be born again.
God gives a plan for spiritual growth in 1 Tim. 4:13: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” First, in order to grow character, we must devote ourselves to the reading of Scripture. During these revivals in which I preach, the Bible is read.
The Scripture was publicly read during the revival that occurred in Nehemiah's day (Neh. 8:8). And observe how long they read: “He read it aloud from daybreak till noon...and all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law” (Neh. 8:3). From daybreak till noon. Amazing! What if your preacher did that on Sunday? What would you do with your preacher if he read the Bible for 5 or 6 hours? Would that impress you?
Often when I’ve studied the Bible with people, the question comes up about the basic beliefs of churches of Christ. Perhaps what we believe about music in worship, or what we believe about communion, or what we believe about baptism. I usually respond, “You know, that's a good question. But it really doesn't matter. What is really important is what the Bible says.”
Do you want to build your character? Spend time reading the word of God. As little Eden Claire desires to be fed the milk of the mother, so we should crave the milk of the word. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).
Second, in order to grow our churches, we must devote ourselves to preaching. During these weeks of evangelism, the word is preached. In fact, I have preached more in the last three years than I did in six years in local work.
Many of us have forgotten the value of ol’ fashioned preaching. We want to be involved in baby showers, weddings, hayrides, banquets, dinners, car-washes, financial seminars, Christmas parties, marriage retreats, and a hundred other things. While good can come from each and every one of these activities, they are not a substitute or replacement for gospel preaching. Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).
Do you want to build the church? Let your preacher preach. Pray for him daily and compliment him weekly. Consider inviting other great preachers to your congregation for an evangelistic effort. The encouragement and correction that come with preaching will greatly bless the local church.
Third, in order to build our communities, we must devote ourselves to teaching. During these weeks of revival, the gospel is taught in the community.
Often when I go to a city to preach, a group of soul-winners go with me. They are trained in how to conduct home bible studies. Even as I write these lines, there's a group in Belleville, Illinois presenting the gospel in that community. Already, there have been three baptized into Jesus. Others are interested. Many have been invited to the meeting. The word of the Lord will not return void (Isa. 55:10-11).
God wants his church to grow. Character is built when the Bible is read. The church is strengthened when the word is preached. Communities are blessed when the gospel is taught. Perhaps you would like some evangelists to help you. I or a host of other preachers would be glad to come. “Until I come, devote yourselves to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”
Keith Parker travels around the country preaching the gospel and encouraging churches. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.