Recently I came across a little book written and compiled by A.M. Burton, a wealthy insurance man and Christian philanthropist who lived in the early part of the twentieth century. It’s simply entitled “Go” and contains inspirational thoughts to motivate Christians to evangelize the world.
The book includes the prospectus for the Central Church of Christ in downtown Nashville, where Burton was a member. It asks the question, “What is real religion?” Here is how it answers:
- Seeking first the Kingdom of God, really putting God first, thus worshiping God and serving man….
- Making peace and good will among men, in little things, in big things….
- Trying to do good to everybody, striving to develop the best in every man.
- Giving due regard to the bodily needs of men, hence: Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ministering to the sick, teaching all respect for bodily purity and vigor.
- Giving due regard to spiritual needs, teaching daily the word of truth, “publicly, and from house to house.”
- Exemplifying the transformed life through the renewed mind.
- Accepting the Bible as the revelation of the Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting God.
- Honoring Christ as “head over all things to the church.”
- Always abounding in the work of the Lord.
I am sharing this nearly one hundred-year-old prospectus with you for several reasons.
First of all, I want you to see how successful churches planned in a day when the churches of Christ were growing rapidly. Growth doesn’t happen by mistake.
At Ashville Road, we have developed a simple process for making disciples, which involves planting seeds, growing branches—which is what these devotionals are about—and bearing fruit. This is a Scriptural process, and we need to stick to it. It is foolish to think that just because God gives the growth, we are to sit passively and wait for it to happen!
Second, I want you to see the kinds of things that were making the church grow. This is summarized in the first point: “worshiping God and serving man.” During a time period when our country was going through the Great Depression, and we were divided in so many ways, the Central congregation developed extensive programs providing medical treatment, food, clothing, housing, employment, and elderly and childcare assistance with no race or class distinctions. Also, they were teaching the gospel from house to house.
Burton’s little book ends with three responsibilities for every Christian:
- Learn and live the gospel yourself.
- Teach the gospel to others by word and example.
- Relieve human suffering in whatever way possible.
Have you learned the gospel? Are you living it? Are you teaching it? Are you helping those around you who are in need?