Most older Baptists can recall being a part of local church revivals, tent revivals, brush arbor revivals, camp meetings, simultaneous revivals, and city-wide crusades. Many of those dear souls were saved or experienced life-changing transformations in one or more of those events.
The first question is: are revivals essential or even necessary today?
Georgia Baptist evangelist Brain Fossett contends that revivals are vitally important for churches today. Fossett was radically saved in 1992 and immediately surrendered to full-time ministry. He has served as a pastor and an evangelist. He has also served in several state and national convention positions, including being selected as the president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. He has a deep love for the local church and pastors.
Fossett recently preached in a weekend revival meeting at Cheek Memorial Baptist Church in Americus, Ga., and expressed delight in the stirring, warmhearted response of the church to the services. His conclusion is that “revivals still work.”
Cheek Memorial Interim Pastor David Kitchens reported, “Brian was his usual energetic, Gospel-preaching self and the results showed up. Our attendance was higher than usual, and we had double the normal attendance on Sunday morning. We had people at the altar every service and five additions to the church.
Consider the state of the church today. The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted congregations in many ways and while most churches are beginning to see a resurgence in attendance, giving and serving, perhaps it is time to prepare for a special season of prayer, an evangelistic emphasis, an effective outreach ministry, a community religious survey and even schedule a revival meeting.
Most would agree that America has been in a moral and spiritual decline for most of the 21st century. Statistics show that mainline protestant denominations are losing more members than they are gaining. In August 2020 George Barna predicted that 20 percent of protestant churches would permanently close their doors in 18 months. We will soon discover if statistics confirm that prediction.
Ron Hale, writing for The Christian Post, stated that Secularists see the church as a nonentity (something that does not exist in their world), a novelty (nice, but something to keep on the shelf for display), a nuisance (with unwelcome rules, restrictions and regulations that are superimposed on their lifestyles), a neanderthal (a replica from the ancient past), or a narcotic (a crutch for weak people).
As Christians, we believe that Christ is the only hope for a broken and sinful world. The political system, corporate America, public education, psychotherapy, and a million other proposed cures for our national and personal trials and failures have proven to be inadequate to solve our problems or heal our societal infirmities.
So, if Christ and the church are the only hope for our faltering society, if we are to be the light that pushes back the darkness and salt that arrests the corruption of a world in chaos, then yes, revivals are a necessity, and we must prepare our hearts for a spiritual awakening.
Alan Quigley wrote a guest editorial entitled “Revivals and Their Relevance for Today” in The Baptist Messenger, the publication of the Oklahoma Baptist Convention. In his commentary, Quigley explained that revivals become relevant when they are born out of a season of prayer, followed by a powerful proclamation of the Gospel and the Great Commission being lived out inside and outside the walls of the church.
In other words, when sufficient spiritual preparation takes place, “it is often followed by what is traditionally called a revival meeting (or) a crusade for souls. At this point the church is revitalized, and the mission of the church is restored. It is then clear to all that true revival has come.” And only when a genuine revival born out of prayer takes place will churches once again have the consensus and influence necessary to change our culture.
A second question that might be asked is: are evangelists relevant today?
In Ephesians 4:11, the Apostle Paul identifies five offices established for the purpose of equipping the church to serve and build up the body of Christ. The evangelist is one of those offices mentioned by Paul. The evangelist is particularly called by God and gifted to preach a clear, convicting, and compelling Gospel message designed to reach unredeemed souls.
So, yes, evangelists are relevant today for God would not have included that spiritual office in the Scriptures if the office was not applicable for all the church age.
Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on Ephesians writes, “All ministers should ‘do the work of an evangelist,’ but this does not mean that all ministers are evangelists. The apostles and prophets laid the foundation of the church, and the evangelists built it up by winning the lost to Christ.” God’s ideal is for every church to have a layman or pastor on staff who is an evangelist to lead the church in developing and implementing a strategy to win the lost. Using evangelists periodically as harvesters will also build and strengthen the local church.
Go to the Georgia Baptist Evangelists’ website and you will find a list of preaching evangelists and music evangelists who will serve your church with a passionate desire to reach the lost for Christ. They are still relevant in our present day.
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