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

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IS THE CHURCH PLANNING TO FAIL?!

Jonathan Winters once quipped, "I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it." Winter's observation contains a kernel of truth for the church in a world where millions are still unsought, untold, and unsaved. Jesus did not put His church in the waiting business. His stirring command to His disciples in Mark 16:15-16 continues to challenge His church to this very hour – "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved: but he who does not believe will be condemned." An oft heard complaint in the church is that the world just won't listen to the gospel, and it is true there are millions outside the church who for one reason or another seem uninterested in spiritual and eternal matters. But observation points to another equally serious problem concerning world evangelism and soul-winning – many in the church are not speaking! For reasons that range from apathy, materialism, and a simple lack of planning and focus and understanding of our mission, many pews are packed with silent saints who are helping to keep the gospel the best kept secret in town.

There is no easy or automatic way to succeed in getting the gospel to six billion people now on earth. There is, however, a proven, fail-safe, 100% guaranteed formula for failure, and it goes like this: "TO FAIL TO PLAN IS TO PLAN TO FAIL." As Henry Thoreau once said, "In the long run men hit only what they aim at." We are not left to guess what Jesus wants His church aiming for. His passion is that I the gospel be preached to every person on earth in every time and place (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 18:18-20). His plan is that every saint this side of heaven help get the gospel to every sinner this side of hell. There is no easy, costless way to succeed at this God-given task. And there is no simple, universal plan that will work in every culture and circumstance. But faithful congregations/Christians are those who consciously and carefully pray, develop and maintain goals, plans, tactics, tools and strategies for accomplishing this mission. A famous artist was once asked to paint a picture of a dying church. It was expected he would paint a small, shrinking congregation in a dilapidated building. Instead he painted a stately edifice with a rich pulpit and magnificent windows. Near the door was an offering box marked "MISSIONS" – and the contribution slot on the box was covered with cobwebs. We don't fail when we don't bring the whole world to Christ. We fail when we don't have a plan to bring Christ to the whole world. Let us not plan to fail in the Lord's work by failing to form and then follow a well-thought plan.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ