Wow, how things are changing in churches throughout America. Trying to draw bigger crowds, churches started mimicking the things of the world. They replaced the old time hymns with music that sounds like something that would be played in a bar, they replaced the conservative dress standards with that which is sensual, they replaced the preaching of doctrine with ear-tickling conversations and fellowship, and they replaced soul-winning with hot dog sales. Has that increased church attendance? In some cases, it has for those churches. Has it increased the number of people truly serving God? People who are changing their lives based upon the principles of God? No, probably not.
Last night, it hit me that most churches I attend struggle with the same problem – a problem of bottomless pews. Those per pews sit there week after week wanting somebody’s bottom to keep them company. Instead, they sit there completely bottomless, listening to the pastor’s sermon all by their lonesome.
Why is that the case? I know I have blogged on similar issues in the past, but it really bothers me to walk into churches that used to be full just to see that they’ve taken out pews now because there aren’t enough people to fill them. They start replacing some of their sanctuary space with larger restrooms, nurseries, sound rooms, offices, larger choir boxes, etc because they don’t want visitors to walk in and see how empty their sanctuary is. Therefore, the theory seems to be, shrink down the size of the sanctuary and your church won’t look so empty.
Am I the only one who sees a problem with this way of thinking? Instead of getting rid of bottomless pews, why don’t we find some bottoms to put in those pews? Why are we too afraid of going out and trying to win people to God? Soul winning is not easy. I take that back – yes it is! It is scary if you have never done it before. It’s scary if you haven’t done it for a while. But it is pretty easy and it’s exciting!
Let me share a story with you. A couple of weeks ago, about ten people from our church were out knocking on doors. My soul-winning partner and I walked up toward a door when, through a window, we saw a man working on his sink – and he had his window open. My soul-winning partner struck up a conversation with him before we even got to the door. He asked the man if he knew for sure that if he died he would have a home in Heaven. The man said, “Uh, well, I’m sure somebody people do.”
To that, the young soul-winner said, “Do you know the Bible says you can know for sure that you would go to Heaven if you died? Let me show you this?”
He began to read I John 5:13 and as he did a little 7 or 8 year old boy walked up on the porch and with his face completely lit up, said, “That’s from the Bible! You know how I know that? Because I go to Awanas.”
That little boy’s daddy was allowing his son to go to a community church on Wednesday evenings, but the daddy wasn’t going to church. I can only imagine, from things I’ve seen in the past working in similar programs, that that little boy had probably been asking his Awana class to pray for his daddy’s salvation.
The daddy allowed my soul-winning partner to walk him through the Romans Road while we were standing there at his house. He didn’t accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior while we were standing there, but he listened to the gospel message and asked some good questions. He accepted a gospel tract with our church address and times on it. Who knows? The next time we see that man, he might be a brother in Christ and perhaps, just perhaps his little boy’s prayers were the reason for that answer. Perhaps one pew will have some more bottoms sitting on it as a result of that soul winning effort.
Do you enjoy seeing the bottomless pews in your church or are you willing to go out into the field to try to fill them?