Empty Chairs

Keith Clayton

Precious Seed

It happens to all preachers at one time or another. It’s bound to happen again, eventually. It’s awkward. It’s a little embarrassing. It can be so discouraging. There’s little we can do to completely avoid it. What is it? It’s that dreaded monster called ‘low turnout’ - when the time to begin your meeting is upon you, and most of the chairs are empty. It’s when you plan for 100, but 20 show up. It’s when you realize that those people who said they’d be there aren’t - and won’t be. What then? What should you do, and what should you not do, to fight discouragement in yourself and to keep it from infecting those who did show up? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Do keep a smile on your face, and be thankful for whoever did come. Let the people who came know how glad you are for their presence. The important ones are those who came, not those who didn’t.
  2. Do focus on the few who came, reminding yourself how the Lord Jesus loves each one individually. This keeps you from fretting about the ‘no-shows’ and allows you to better meet the needs of those who came.
  3. Do take advantage of the intimate setting. Continue with your study, discussion, or lesson, but feel free to be creative. Consider a cosier atmosphere. Tailor the meeting to the needs of those who came.
  4. Do proceed with confidence and assurance. Your attitude will become infectious.
  5. Do expect God to show up no matter who else doesn’t. His grace and Spirit are not proportional to the number of people at the gathering.
  6. Don’t make excuses for those who didn’t come. Don’t even mention their absence.
  7. Don’t explain that there are usually more people at your meeting. This will only serve to discourage yourself and others by emphasizing the small turnout. More people do not necessarily make a better meeting.
  8. Don’t denigrate the non-shows for their absence. This only creates negative feelings. Keep a positive atmosphere.
  9. Don’t postpone your starting time, hoping for more people to show up. Start on time.
  10. Don’t ever, ever apologise for low turnout. God can work as powerfully with a few as with many.

Most of all when the seeds of discouragement begin to plant themselves in your mind, remind yourself again that the Lord would have died for just one. As long as you yourself have shown up, there’s one whom Christ loves and gave His life to save. If you are there, so is He, and that’s enough.

FOOTNOTE:
This is not designed to encourage complacency. There may be reasons for diminishing numbers. Desires for greater things should always be developed. Editor

There are 16 articles in
ISSUE (2000, Volume 55 Issue 3)

The Church: A Symposium of Principles and Practice

Editorial

Empty Chairs

Faith: A Symposium of Bible Doctrine

Gospel Work and other Activities

His Hands Full of Incense

Let Me Get Home Before Dark

Lord, Teach us to Pray . . .

Low Waters Gospel Hall, Hamilton, Scotland

The Occult

Serving Tables

Take Care in the Bath

The Coming of the Son of Man (2)

Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon

What about Letters of Commendation?

Worship ,Then and Now

This article is not part of a series

There are 91 articles by this author

We Consider Blessed Those Who Have Persevered

Travelling On My Knees - 2 Corinthians 1.11.

The Teignmouth Gospel Hall

An Appreciation OfIvan Steeds

We Count Them Happy That Endure

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23. 2

Celebrating 100 years of service for The Western Counties and South Wales Evangelisation Trust

Choice Gleanings

Bethany Residental Home

Who says the Word of God is not important?

Winshill Gospel Hall

Mill Green Gospel Hall

Crossroads

Look for God’s Look for God’s hand in it!

The UK Assembly Address Book

The Benefits of Belonging

Deep-Water Faith!

Emptied to be Filled

Empty Chairs

Merrion Hall, Dublin

Report of Gospel Work & Other Assembly Activity

A Family

A Body

Reports of Gospel Work and other Assembly Activity

A Hospital

The Greater London Crusade

Brierfield, Lancashire

Priter Way, Bermondsey - A Story of Dockside London

Be Neighbourly

Nursing a Grievance

God’s Sovereign working in the Telugu Desh

Don’t make a mistake

In a Devon Coastal Town (Seaton)

Zeal

Is this your Gospel Meeting?

Special Notice

A Situation we must face

Crediton - from 1850 to 1956

New Hall for Lynmouth

Why and Wherefore?

Silverton

Spending and being Spent

Canley - Coventry

Dwindling Assemblies

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Income and Expenditure

Resignation of Mr L. F. Morice

Musbury, Devon

Musbury, Devon - 2

Please Don’t Forget This Time

New Committee Members

Income and Expenditure

Holiday Evangelism

Home for Elderly Believers

Eastern Counties Missionary Home

The Holy Spirit

Loughton, Essex

Accounts of the Year ended August 31st, 1959

Our Future Programme

A Library for Biblical Research

Homecall of A. C. Hinton

Our Programme for 1961

Tell Yorkshire

Statement of Accounts for Year End August 1960

Dr John Heading

Prayer

Home Workers Fund

The Indispensable Man

If God should go on strike

Scripture text posters

Denis Clapham

Views from the News

Copimg with difficulties within a marriage

Bexley Christian Assembly

Proclamation

Slow Down

Golden Bells

Bethel Gospel Chapel

Are you hooked on logic?

I cannot understand

The Bow Assembly, Devon, England

What is Relational Evangelism?

God is ...

Code name: Confusion

Matthew 24. 42

Faskally House and Trust

A Hunger for the Word

Parkside Hall, Maidenhead

2008 China’s Year!

Walk Before God

Yorkshire Christian Camp