Last week, I led a four day Revival series for Chesterfield Baptist Church. Several folks have asked me what a "Revival" is and why I would accept an invitation like that.
The word 'Revival' can mean several different things. However, in the Southern U.S., a Revival is typically a series of church services that spans several days (usually 3 to 6) for the purpose of helping the members of the congregation re-gain excitement about the church, focus on their relationship with God and ignite spiritual fervor. Topics for a Revival series can span the spectrum, but often include a 'call' to members of the church to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (see Matthew 5:13-16).
**See the addendum after this blog post for a little interesting history on Revivals.
Each year, I get invited to do speaking engagements at churches and other organizations. Though it really is an honor to be asked, I can't accept all them all. Specifically, Revivals typically end with a Sunday morning church service, so this is obviously something I think and pray hard about, because accepting a Revival invitation means I will have to be away from PCC. As a general rule, I only speak at other churches two Sundays per year.
Chesterfield Baptist Church's invitation was intriguing to me for several reasons. First, I know some people there. Also, they have a strong and effective leadership and a long-term, dedicated and skilled pastor for whom I have great respect.
But the thing that excited me the most was CBC's strategic location. They are right on route 360, in the path of the massive growth that has been moving westerly in Chesterfield County along Hull Street. That church is positioned geographically to literally reach thousands of people. I felt that I could perhaps help inspire them, sharing a little of PCC's story and crack the door open to a possible new vision for them. As I've often said, I'm not the most profound teacher. I'm not the smartest guy from seminary (not even close!). What I do bring is to the speaking event, though, is a lot of energy. Hopefully I helped raise some excitement about the possibilities for them and their future.
So, starting last Thursday, I taught at their Revival for four days in a row, finishing Sunday morning. Some folks from PCC's band did the music there at the Friday night service, and it was extraordinarily good. And a few PCC friends were there most nights. It was nice to have some familiar faces in the room!
The people of Chesterfield Baptist Church were warm and receptive. I was glad to be able to do it and I think it was a good, Kingdom investment for me and for PCC.
Plus, I've heard a TON of great responses and positive feedback about Angie Frame's message...Wow!
But having missed two weeks at PCC in April, I'm excited about settling in for a good stint at home now! In fact, I'm really excited to teach at PCC this weekend on something I've been learning that I've not really ever seen before. Hope to see you there!!!
**If you'd like to know more about Revivals, keep reading.
Revivals today are different from Revivals that happened 50 years ago. Let me explain.
In previous generations in the U.S., most Americans had some exposure to church. In fact, from the early days of our nation until the 1960's, most people went to church most weeks. It was actually frowned upon to not attend church. Church was a part of the social fabric of our society.
Because of that, most people had been exposed to the teachings of Jesus and the basic claims about him as the Son of God. It wasn't offensive to discuss Jesus with just about anyone. Even people who didn't follow Jesus were respectful of Him and of the church.
Skilled evangelists would travel from town to town and preach for several consecutive days in a series called "Revival". Because people looked fondly on the church and on faith in general, it didn't require any arm-twisting to get people to come to hear Billy Sunday (yes, that was a real Evangelist - the predecessor of Billy Graham) or some other evangelist preach at the local Revival.
And since people had been exposed to teachings about Jesus, they were mostly open to an impassioned plea to 'give your life to Christ'. Hundreds and thousands would have an encounter with God at these events, and receive God's grace and salvation.
But the culture began to shift dramatically in the 60's and 70's. Not only did it become socially acceptable to not go to church, but it actually became someone odd if you did go. And because fewer and fewer people were exposed to basic church teachings, Revivals became less effective for evangelistic purposes.
Whereas churches still certainly hope that the spiritually curious will come, it rarely happens in any church Revival. This is because of the huge cultural shift away from church in general. People who don't go to church are somewhat open to going to a weekend service (Saturday or Sunday), but are rarely open to going at any other time.
Many churches, instead of ceasing the practice of having an annual Revival, simply shifted the purpose away from evangelism and towards the encouragement of the core congregation. This is what typically happens in a church revival.