Sitting around a table with four leaders in our denomination a few years ago, the late Jim Coldiron was told, “Revivals don’t work anymore.”
When he asked the four where they had made their professions of faith each said in an embarrassing manner, “In a revival.” When you think about it, they were right, but for all the wrong reasons. Revivals without proper preparation have never worked. However, if proceeded by much prayer and personal preparation, revivals will enliven the church, engage the community, and enlarge the kingdom of heaven.
To paraphrase a commercial on television: “I know a revival or two, because I’ve seen a revival or two.” For 35 years I had the joy of serving as a vocational evangelist and now for the past eight years I have been privileged to add “pastor” to that title.
The church where I serve is Friendship Baptist Church, Friendship, Tennessee. It is a community with approximately 680 individuals. Every dwelling can be visited in two hours when the 25-30-member visitation team of the church is in action.
This week we had revival. It was proceeded by two years of teaching on prayer every Wednesday night, three weeks of sermons addressing the power of prayer, and praying for 65 individuals whose names were called out for the past three Sundays by those present at the conclusion of the service. Attendance increased with every service. Chairs were brought in and individuals were sitting in the overflow rooms on Wednesday night.
Was it the great music sung by John Norvell from Jackson, TN, which increased the crowds each night? Was it the plain, simple Gospel message preached by evangelist Keith Fordham from Fayetteville, which filled the worship center? Was it the old fashioned “Pack-a-Pew,” which we all know doesn’t work anymore, that generated community-wide interest?
These were factors. But as John Wesley once said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” God answered the prayers of his people and decisions were made public in every service. People came requesting prayer for themselves, their families, their friends at school, and their coworkers. Others came on their profession of faith. And now revival continues with more prayer and the disciplining of those who were objects of prayer.
If anyone has ever experienced a genuine, heaven-sent, Spirit-filled, prayer-answering revival, you will never hear them say, “Revivals don’t work anymore.”