I think one of the biggest things that stands out about our congregation is the percentage of workers. I’ve heard it said, and even seen in some places, that 10% of the people do 90% of the work. Not so in Purcellville. We certainly have some who are not actively engaged, but a very large percentage of the congregation is busy working on something and are willing to work when called upon. For example, we have so many ladies who want to teach, that we’ve started rotating teachers in and out of the children’s classrooms. Yet we only have about 38 or so adults in the congregation.
A few things that stand out in our congregation of 25 here in rural central IL…
- Mean & median: 33 years.
- Our Bible study website sees over 800 unique visitors most days (www.AudioEvangelism.com).
- This congregation has already trained one evangelist, is currently helping to train another, and will probably help train several of our young boys to preach the gospel in the next decade or so.
My most positive word today? The word, “steady.” Years ago, we had a member of our congregation by the name of Tom Porterfield, who has since gone on to be with the Lord. When I would ask him every Sunday morning how he was doing, he would reply with a simple, “I’m steady.”
Brother Tom was indeed “steady.” Even though he was up in years, he’d be present at every worship service of the Lord’s people. He was truly an inspiration and godly example of “steady” service to the Lord, and we greatly miss his presence when we assemble today.
Brethren, like brother Tom, may we be found to be “steady” – “Steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58-NKJV).
The weather is perfect and we had a glorious day at worship. We had a special contribution and we will be sending $1,600.00 to help the suffering in Haiti. Our contribution continues to increase and the rate of spiritual growth is obvious in the congregation. I have been doing a lot of preaching about spiritual growth lately and how necessary it is that it is also coupled with emotional maturity. It is bearing fruit. We have a very special group of brethren. Different races worshiping together in harmony in Christ. What could be better?
What lectureships do I attend? None. I haven’t been to a lectureship since since the 1990’s, when the Northside congregation here in El Paso hosted yearly lectureships. Because of falling membership and a lack of funds, they no longer host lectureships.
However, I do have some great lectureship books in my personal library that I’ve collected in past years, produced by various hosting congregations around the country. In my view, lectureship books are a great and practical investment for every Christian.
By simply ordering, purchasing, and using lectureship books as an aid in Bible study, members can save travel and lodging expenses going to lectureships. By using these lectureship books, produced by faithful proclaimers of the Book, I’ve greatly increased my knowledge of God’s Word. Plus, they are a great addition to any member’s library.
One such lectureship book that I greatly value, is the book entitled, “Studies In Romans,” edited by Bro. Dub. McClish. This book was a result of the 15th annual Denton lectures, conducted November 10-14, 1996. It’s one of the best commentaries on Romans that I have ever seen.
What development in the church encourages me most? I’m greatly encouraged by the number of congregations who are putting their Bible-related materials online, both in audio, http://mbriley.preachersfiles.com/audio-sermons/, and in video: http://mbriley.preachersfiles.com/video-sermons/.
On my Bible study blog alone, I’ve listed many congregations who offer Bible study courses online, have Bible study resource sites, advertise their upcoming lectureships, list the various news events in the brotherhood. There are evangelism sites maintained by the church, that are helping evangelize the world for Christ. There are mission efforts around the world that have websites online, for members to contribute to those efforts. We have schools of preaching that are online, for any man interested in preparing himself for full time ministry. An individual can even go online and get the same Bible-related material as one would get at a two-year preaching school: http://www.oabs.org/. They can acquire low-cost video teaching tapes of every book in the Bible: http://wvbs.org/home.cfm
The list is endless.
Brethren, the teaching potential in using the Internet, is virtually limitless. At a very minimal cost to the church, we can do today, what it used to cost thousands of dollars to do just a few years ago. Just in publishing costs alone, many dollars have been saved by using the Internet. Those extra dollars saved can and should go to other missionary efforts at home and abroad.
For example, every Bible topic that the Bible classes at Montana Street have studied, has come from written material, either by me or other members of the congregation, saving the congregation a great deal of money that can be used in other areas of service.
Brethren, there’s no question in my mind that we can take the gospel to the whole world, as our Lord commanded us to do (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16): http://mbriley.preachersfiles.com/2009/12/20/winning-one-soul-to-christ-in-2010-%E2%80%94-we-can-do-it/. We have the resources – It’s just a matter of our being willing to do it (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
We need to remember that we’ll be judged on our stewardship of the resources that God has so richly provided us with (Luke 16:1-12; cf. Luke 12:42-48).
How do you organize your prayers? Like Ron, there is no set organized pattern in my daily prayer life. The Montana Street congregation has a prayer list that contains all of the members who are in need of prayer, and we do pray for them as a congregation and individually as well. We do call and visit our members who are confined to their homes, plus make provisions for them to take the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day.
If you’re talking about the organization of each individual prayer, I usually petition the Lord for helping us to reach the lost, for providing the needs of members who are sick and in the hospital, and for missionary efforts that we support as well as those efforts of other congregations world-wide. My prayer includes wisdom for our government and military leaders, not only in our country, but for every country, so that we might live in a peaceful environment.
Describe the 1-talent person in my congregation: We have a brother who is a Sgt. Major in the army, presently attending the Sgt. Major Academy here at Ft. Bliss. After completing the school, he will be moving back east for another assignment. He plans on retiring in two years from the military. He is presently working on his masters degree in business administration.
He leads the congregation in prayer before the preaching begins as well as leading in prayer at the Lord’s Table. We can always depend on this godly brother being in attendance and leading us in prayer. Since he is a leader of men himself, he has taught us a great deal about leadership, and what the characteristics of a true leader are.
When this brother finishes school in about two more months, he will depart from our midst, and we will sorely miss him.
At the Church of Christ at Allenhurst, we have had two baptisms and four people place membership with us in the past few weeks. May Christ receive the glory (Ephesians 3:20-21). Hope your congregation is growing!
What do you see as the benefits of Church membership? What is your reply to those who say that the Bible says nothing about placing membership with a local congregation?
Earlier today, I told you that we recently had a baptism. We have also had three people place membership in the past few weeks. We rejoice. Growth is a blessing.
Do we know what it takes from all of us? Are we prepared to do what is necessary? Find out.