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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



The sermon had really hit home with Barry as he sat on the edge of his seat, grasping each word the preacher said as if he were speaking directly to him. He finally relaxed a bit, with a glow of contentment on his face. "Yes, I will obey the gospel today. I am going to be baptized into Christ for the remission of my sins because I believe Him to be the Son of God," he thought.

But as the minister began to offer the Lord's invitation, people snatched books noisily from the racks and began flipping pages; sleeping children were being awakened and helped to gather their belongings; and others began to gather and straighten their area surrounding them. As the preacher endeavored to complete his lesson, the hustle and bustle in the pews diverted Barry's attention and he thought, "Oh, these people are in such a hurry to get home, "I'll only detain them with my baptism, so I'll wait until it's more convenient."

So, a bit deflated, Barry stood with the audience as they gazed about smiling at one another while they sang Almost Persuaded.

Yes! It could happen here.

Last weekend 21 of us attended the Challenge Youth Conference in Gatlinburg along with 4,679 other people. There were 55 responses to the Lord's invitation on Saturday night and Sunday morning with about a third of those being baptized into Christ.


1) SACRIFICE. These people had to make a sacrifice of their time and schedule to be there and do "church" all weekend. They had to make a conscious effort to focus and make preparations to be there. It wasn't a matter of convenience or a matter of wanting to. People were there because they WANTED to be there! Why did you come today?

2) ATMOSPHERE. If a speaker went a little long, it didn't matter. If the song leader sang an extra song or two, it didn't matter. If 10 people responded to the invitation, time didn't matter. If 20, 30, 40 or 55 people responded and the song leader sang three extra invitation songs, it didn't matter. Why? An atmosphere of worship had been created and people weren't concerned about other things.

Could this scenario happen at Smithville? Most certainly. But how? Make worship a priority! Be at worship every opportunity you have. Put other things aside that would interfere with your attendance and participation. And create an atmosphere that encourages people to respond. Leave the songbooks in the rack until we stand (you know the first verse of every invitation song anyway). Wait until services are over to start gathering your belongings (that will give you a little extra time to visit with those around you). Come and come prepared for responses!

For His Cause,