Should all the men in an assembly share in preaching the gospel?
No. All believers are responsible to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5) by speaking to individuals as the believers did in Acts 11:19, 20. Some have a knack for this, although they may not be effective public speakers. The risen Lord provides evangelists (Ephesians 4:11) for the work of the gospel. Since God oversees the operation of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:6), we can be certain He employs only those He has enabled for this important work.
Testimonies of conversion are one means of declaring the gospel (Acts 22). Some who may not be effective “preachers” can effectively tell how they were saved.
The priesthood of all believers does not imply that all the males should take their turn “preaching.” On the other hand, fairness should be a part of all assembly decisions (1 Timothy 5:21), including selecting speakers for gospel meetings. Wise elders look for potential in a speaker and give opportunity for the Spirit of God to develop that ability by its use. At the same time, they will be careful not to discourage a less capable brother (“a smoking flax shall He not quench,” Isaiah 42:3).
What will encourage believers to invite visitors to weekly gospel meetings?
Assembly life is “normal” when believers regularly invite visitors to assembly gospel meetings. When an assembly announces a gospel meeting, the message presented must be clear and consistent with the dignity of the gospel. This is the responsibility of the elders and ought to be the burden of the weekly prayer meeting. The primary resource in assembly life is always spiritual.
Effective meetings require Spirit-filled men who have sufficient capability to communicate the gospel. Even in assemblies which have a number of such men, occasionally inviting capable men from other assemblies in the area to help with the preaching is valuable. In smaller assemblies, this is essential. Where an assembly is geographically isolated, foresight, kind hospitality, and an invitation might encourage a brother and his family to visit for a Sunday – including the gospel meeting. Inviting a different speaker every month or two (at least) would encourage the believers to invite visitors to the meetings. Also, it helps when all the believers attend each gospel meeting.
How can the content of gospel messages be made interesting?
Of first importance is the spiritual power of the message (1 Corinthians 2:4). Second is its clarity (1 Corinthians 14:8,9). For a message to reach an unbeliever, it must capture and retain his attention. Since the gospel is for the benefit of believers (Ephesians 4:12), they also deserve an interesting presentation of this beloved message.
True and relevant illustrations develop interest and fasten truth in the memory. They are supplements, however; Scripture is central. Variety is important, but that doesn’t require novel passages. The power of a passage is not in what is forced into it, but in what is found within it (Hebrews 4:12); preaching communicates that power. The New Testament is the primary resource for a New Testament gospel. Many gospel principles and helpful illustrations come from the Old Testament, but their power is in their relationship to New Testament truth. The parables of the Lord and His miracles are rich resources. His interviews with individuals are instructive. The messages in Acts provide rich material for preaching. Great gospel texts, in both the Old and New Testament, are a staple for preaching. Preaching on Ephesians 2:8, 9, for instance, could take various forms: illustrated by the uplifted serpent or by David and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9); viewed from the standpoint of the Ephesians who first heard it; developed from the three major words of the text (grace, faith, saved); unified with all the Bible by tracing the thread of “grace” which runs through the New Testament or the entire Bible; compared to the Lord’s conversation with the rich, young ruler. The Bible’s living truth should be vibrant in our lives and our preaching.
In what ways can elders help develop others’ gift in preaching the gospel?
God intends an assembly to be the garden where gift develops. Elders are responsible for this (1 Timothy 4:14). Sunday night gospel meetings are not the place to begin developing gospel gift. A healthy assembly will have a variety of scriptural gospel activities involving younger believers (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
One of the most important helps in preaching is personal witnessing. This teaches a person what truth to present and how to present it effectively. Helping in a Sunday School class or in children’s meetings by teaching children verses or telling a brief Bible story with a simple application is good training. Holding the attention of children during a lesson develops gift. Accompanying a trusted, experienced brother as he presents the gospel in a home visit is valuable. To reach into neighboring communities with the gospel, elders can encourage younger believers to help older workers (Acts 20:4) or to initiate children’s meetings or gospel meetings in rented buildings.