Mary Kay Ash, of Mary Kay Cosmetics, is fond of saying that bees can't fly. She says, "Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it, so it goes on flying anyway." There is a popular saying in our day that evangelistic revivals no longer work. We are told that people will not attend and that revivals are not an effective evangelism tool. Apparently, many Kentucky Baptist pastors did not get the message and they keep on scheduling spring and fall revivals and in many cases, they experience a surprising move of God.
Pastor David Little of Dexter Baptist Church reported 15 professions of faith at Dexter Baptist Church in their most recent fall revival. Piner Baptist in Northern Kentucky reported 10 professions in their spring revival. One vocational evangelist living in Kentucky, Wesley Paul, preached in a revival meeting in First Baptist Spartanburg, South Carolina where there were over 80 professions of faith. These churches have discovered that revivals can continue to be a good tool to reach people with the gospel.
If a church is going to schedule revival services what can they do to make the most of their effort? Here are six suggestions for a making the most of revival meetings:
1. Pray for the revival services.
Vocational evangelists recognize that the power of preaching and the conviction leading to conversion in revival services seems to happen in places where the church has prayed fervently for the revival effort. Churches can pray by having special prayer times in the morning services leading up to the revival meeting. They may also ask different church families to host a revival prayer meeting in their home each week for several weeks leading up to the revival. A pastor might consider utilizing a personal prayer list where the church members will be asked to identify three or four people they will pray for daily and invite to attend a revival service. Many people who are prayed for and invited will attend a church revival service.
2. Utilize the gifts of a vocational evangelist.
While vocational evangelists are becoming few and far between it is worth the effort to invite a gifted and trustworthy evangelist to preach in the revival services. The role of the evangelist is a biblical office finding its origins in Ephesians 4:11-12 where both the position and the practice of the evangelist is identified. If an evangelist is used in the revival services, then be sure and cover his travel expenses and promote a nightly love offering to support his ministry.
3. Prepare for the revival meeting with a special emphasis for each service.
If a church holds a Sunday through Wednesday night series of meetings they may wish to make the Sunday morning service a high attendance day, Sunday night could focus on inviting inactive church members, Monday night may be a men's night or a family night, Tuesday night could focus on senior adults, and Wednesday night could aim for reaching children or students. Special emphasis combined with a meal before the service can often enhance attendance.
4. Put a revival team in place.
Involve as many people as reasonably possible in the preparation for the revival. The more people involved in planning, praying, preparing, promoting and programing revival meeting the more people will be involved in attending. The rule of thumb is that for every person involved in revival preparation there will be three people in attendance. If you have fifty people enlisted and helping with the revival preparation, then you may expect 150 people or more in attendance.
5. Train workers to help with the specific tasks in the revival services.
Train many key groups of people to make the most of the revival effort. Train greeters for the front doors and in the parking lot to greet every guest in a warm and friendly way. Train the musicians and singers to be enthusiastic in their worship leadership as they will set the tone for the services. Train invitation counselors on how to help people who respond during the invitation. Train follow up workers to make visits after the revival services are finished.
6. Promote the revival services.
Clear the church calendar of any other activity that could compete with the revival effort and ask church members to do the same. Make sure everyone knows that this is a special emphasis in the life of the church. Let key leaders know that their attendance in these services is needed and appreciated. Make certain that the entire church knows there is something they can do to make this revival a success.
I once heard a conversation with evangelist Neil Travelstead when he overheard another pastor say that revivals no longer work. The seasoned evangelist responded that revivals will work if we work the revival. Our great and gracious God seems to honor work. When God's people work it seems that God works as well.(WR)
*Brainy Quote: Mary Kay Ash Quotes, BrainyQuote.com.
"Evangelism Handbook: Biblical, Spiritual, Intentional, Missional" by Alvin Reid, Page 103