I was recently reminded of a notable event that occurred in Lyons, Indiana, during the late fall of 1934. The church of Christ contracted with Brother E. M. Zerr to conduct a twelve-week Bible reading at a cost of $400. Two hour classes were held each afternoon and evening on week days. The entire Bible was read and commented on during that study. This is notable because of the length of the study, the cost during the depression and the size of the congregation. I have a picture of the attendees that was taken on the steps of the church building. Additionally, this occurred during the cold part of the year and the cars were not heated very well and they traveled on gravel roads that were very rough.
When I was in grade school, Brother Zerr held a Bible reading at the church in Vincennes for two weeks. There were no special classes for the children, but we all took notes like the adults. Upon the urging of many church members, Brother Zerr published commentaries of the entire Bible based on the notes he used in the studies. He was very reluctant to do so because he did not want the members to quote him as an authority but to use the books as a tool. Unfortunately, many have disregarded his wishes.
The title of this article is “Changing Times’” and the above paragraphs serve as an introduction to how times have changed through the years (and not necessarily for the good). It was common for churches to have two week meetings more than once a year. This practice was gradually reduced to one week meetings once or twice each year. As time has progressed, churches began having Saturday and Sunday meetings several times a year but when attendance dropped off, so have the meetings.
The purpose of this article is not to sound like doom and gloom but rather that each of us will look at our priorities and see if they have shifted too far toward the world and the “enjoyment” that it affords. It is more serious than many will admit, but our preparation for heaven may be falling very short. When we read the book of Revelations, we read that those who are there are singing and praising God all of the time. All too often, we hear the complaint that “church is boring.” If so, will it also be boring in heaven?
We are often reminded that we are to seek the kingdom of heaven first and all the necessities of life will be available for us. Do we really believe this or are we so intent upon providing these necessities that we put God in a distant second place?
What lesson do you get from the parable of the great supper? Many were invited but some gave excuses such as marriage, purchase of land and purchase of oxen so that they could not attend. The one who had made the great feast was angry that these had turned down his offer and told his servants to go out and gather people off the streets so that the food was not wasted (Luke 14:15-24). By comparison, how do you think God feels when we choose so many things to do instead of meeting with the church?
Why is church so boring? It is the same or even better than it was when I was a child. A big difference between the “olden days” and now is what Satan has made to offer us. The decline in church attendance and interest can probably be measured with the increase in sports, electronic entertainment by radio, TV and games plus the cellphones. With the advent of all these devices, asking people to attend and sit through a service seems unreasonable to many.
We need to ask ourselves a very important question. What is our reason for a lack of interest in worshiping God? Is it family activities like the man who married a wife? Or is it a boat or travel trailer that we need to use because of our money invested in it? Or are we hooked on sports at any level from peewee league to professional? Let each of us examine ourselves and determine to be more attentive to the worship of God.