If you’re like me, you grew up in an old-fashioned church where King James was a Bible, not a basketball player. People sang hymns like I’ll Fly Away with such zeal that we kids would anxiously look to see if anyone in the congregation would sprout wings and take off. Back then, not only did we learn to speak and pray using King James English, but we learned to read music in the church hymnal and sing out loud with gusto and zest. If, by chance, you do remember those days and will admit it, then it’s safe to say your youthful days have slipped into the rear-view mirror. In all likelihood, you’re an AARP member, and the King James Bible still holds a place in your aging heart. Do you also remember week-long revivals (sometimes two weeks), all-day singings with dinner on the ground, and special events like pack-a-pew Sundays?
For those not familiar with old-school practices in the church, pack-a-pew Sunday was a contest to see who in the congregation would bring the most visitors for a Sunday Service. The winner would receive a prize for their efforts (ordinarily a Bible) and recognition by the church. While pack-a-pew Sundays, like me, are becoming things of the past, they speak to a missing and much-needed element in the church today: a zeal for evangelism, a passion to see those without Jesus come to know and follow him.
I’ll never forget Tuesday-night visitations (knocking on doors and witnessing to whoever would open up) or those spring and summer months when schools had let out, and a host of us crazy church people would go driving through neighborhoods, honking horns, shouting out and tossing candy to announce and invite the community to Vacation Bible School. There were so many things the church would promote and take part in as a faithful response to this biblical mandate:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
— Matthew 28:19–20 KJV
The mandate remains. It is still my duty as a follower of Jesus to share the good news with others. And why wouldn’t I? Honestly, I question the heart of a believer who has no interest or sees no relevance in sharing the gospel.
With disease and death so prevalent in the news these days, I wonder how many people have left this life without knowing Jesus? How many never heard the gospel? Our methods may have changed over time, along with an ever-changing culture, but the message remains the same: “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 3:2); For “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
I am grateful every day to align with a church whose vision is to connect people to God first, then to one another. Have you made that connection? If not, please email us right away at firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will reach out to you soon.