One of the most well known hymns is “Bring Them In” written in 1885 by Alexcenah Thomas. You might remember this hymn that is poetically reminding the church of its responsibility to carry out the Great Commission and seek the lost. The lyrics of the hymn are as follows: “Hark! ’tis the Shepherd’s voice I hear, Out in the desert dark and drear, Calling the sheep who’ve gone astray, Far from the Shepherd’s fold away. Bring them in, bring them in,
Bring them in from the fields of sin; Bring them in, bring them in, Bring the wand’ring ones to Jesus.” The old favorite hymn encourages Christians to do as Jesus said; “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). While Jesus has given the church liberty concerning how to go and reach the lost and “bring them in” there are still some guiding biblical principles to be observed.
Many congregations of the Lord’s church and also many denominations have a marquee in front of their building with the times of worship and to announce various activities. Interestingly, this past week two denominational marquees were observed in the area with an effort to “bring them in”. What is interesting is how they are trying to “bring them in.” One denomination advertised that a bicycle would be given away to the children that come to their large Easter egg hunt on Sunday. The other denomination promised coffee and donuts to anyone that would attend their Sunday services. It is probably the case that there are some congregations of the Lord’s church that have done something very similar, but what are the biblical principles that should guide a congregation of the Lord’s people to “bring them in”?
The Lord’s people should have as their priority that they message of the gospel is the power and the drawing power. “Bu we are bound to give thanks to God always for you…to which He called you by our gospel…” (2 Thessalonians 2:14). The biblical example is that the Christians “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4) because it was the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). The drawing power to “bring them in” must the message of the gospel and sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:13). Those that come for a bicycle or donuts will not return when they are no longer given away, but the one that comes hungering and thirsting for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6) when the pure milk of the word and meat of the word is taught (1 Peter 2:2).
The Lord’s people should have as their priority the message of the gospel and in conjunction with that they themselves will show themselves loving, kind, friendly, and desiring to serve the lost and the saved with the message of God. Part of who we are as human beings, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), is the need to interact with other human beings and that can be done in the church. Healthy fellowship, friendship, and time spent together in worship, Bible study, and even secular activities can stimulate spiritual growth and maturity. Paul longed to be with his brethren and we should “bring them in” to also have this longing (2 Timothy 4:21). A smile, friendly handshake, and sincere welcome are a part of what is needed to “bring them in” and all founded upon the foundation of the message of God’s word. Let’s “bring them in” using biblical principles and not by the works of the world.
by Wayne Brewer