Revival and Evangelism

Recently there has been a discussion on one of the blogs I read about Todd Bentley. Bentley has been holding “revival” services in Lakeland, Florida since April. Some are calling it the “Florida Outpouring” and making claims of all kinds of healings. So far Bentley has been unable to provide proof that any healings have occurred.  Well, after the reading the comments of that blog I begin thinking about revival.

Really, I’m not a fan of revival meetings, although I’ve attended quite a few myself and by some wonderful preachers including Billy Graham. So, why I am I not a fan of revival meetings? For starters true revival begins in the heart not in a meeting.  True revival begins with genuine repentance, soul searching and prayer.  I think sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment and make a well intended commitment. Somehow after the services are over and time has passed nothing really changes.

Another thing that bothers me about revival meetings is the way we equate statics with the success of the meeting. Many times I have heard someone discuss a revival meeting and one of the first things they say is how many people got saved or made other comments to the Lord. Salvation is a great thing and I do rejoice every time I hear of a new believer. My evangelism professor taught that the way to measure the true success of an evangelistic meeting was by the long term effect.

Many times those leading revival meeting rely too heavily on emotions and not the Bible. One of the best presentations of the Gospel I have seen was this year at one of the Passion Regional conferences. The Gospel was presented in silence and in a dark arena. The message was projected on video screens. The presentation used reverse type (white on black) to present the Gospel. While emotions may play a part in presenting a sermon they should never become a substitute for God’s word.

Finally, one of the biggest problems I see with some revivals especially Bentley is sensationalism. It seems some become more concerned with putting on a good show rather than preaching a Biblically solid message. In Bentley’s case he seems to make a big show out of healing. Yes, I believe God can heal people but I’m not comfortable with those who make a show out of it. From what I have read in the Bible Jesus did not make a show out of healing people. In fact he had a tendency to so quietly and then commands them not to tell.

Revival is not the same thing as evangelism. For many churchs a yearly event like revival meetings may be their primary means of evangelism. Evangelism involves or at least should involve much more than bringing someone to an event. Sharing the Gospel with others should become a part of our daily lives.

Only time will tell if the meetings in Lakeland is a true revival. As for the supposed healings who knows. It would help if Bentley or someone would provide documented proof of at least one healing.

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16 thoughts on “Revival and Evangelism”

  1. D, do you remember a youth weekend where a very popular youth revival leader preached where many people…even those who were dedicated Christians went forward?

    I heard him again at my university and it was interesting seeing him through 20 year old eyes rather than 14 year old ones. They introduced him as having xxx,xxx youth converts to his credit. He then went on to give one of the most emotionally manipulative speeches I’ve ever heard. No wonder he had such a high count.

    You are right. Success = statistics is a marketing equation. It occurs to me that most “evangelism” happens when we wrap the towel around our waist and begin the humbling business of washing feet. Not creating hype in a tent.

  2. Cathy,
    Yes but I can’t remember who it is was.

    Rev.

    TY,

    Cathy & Rev,

    When I was still at Southcliff it seemed that at least for some all evangelism was tied up in The Christmas tree and no need to do anything else.

    DH

  3. I had a positive, very positive, experience with revival! Similatenous with the famous Asbury College revival in Kentucky 1970 a college revival at my college broke out Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee. Like Asbury it went for many hours, 48 or more. At our routine and mandatory twice weekly chapel services, Thursday, the basketball team had charge of the service. (I suppose the team was considered the least spiritual segment of the campus and giving them a part might draw them in, spiritually. One of the players while giving a testimony broke down crying and just starting confessing his ‘backsliden’ condition. Immediately the student body, about a thousand, including staff and faculty was so moved that the altars were filled with weeping and praying students. Those not able to make it to the altar bowed at ther seats. The staff and faculty sat, arms folded, and just observed. The revival spread all over the campus, anywhere a group of students could gather. It spread to nearby churches. The administration suspended all classes and activities that day and the next. The claim was made that every lost student was saved, I’m sure was an exageration. Many missionaries and ministers are still working today as a result of that revival.
    But for me it has a special accomplishment. I relocated from the main auditorium to a smaller science audortium in another building. It was packed with students as student preacher after another preached. The students were praying ‘pentecostal’ style and certainly there was excessiveness and emotional abuses but one beautiful young girl was slain in the Spirit face up on the floor and as I stepped over her to get to some others who were being prayed with, I looked down and saw her as the most beautiful site, crying and praising God unaware of anyone around her. We made a spiritual connection and 1972 we married and my two daughters, two son-in-laws and four and soon to be five grandkids are the product of that revival. I believe in spontaneous and unplanned by human minds revivals. Our “Page” klan was conceived in revival!

  4. Charles, That is a great story. Sounds like it had last effects for you but what about the other students.I have seen similar type revivals start from college chapel service. Rev may remember an incident at SWBTS where the chapel service lasted for hours. There was a short term change but it didn’t have a last effect.  DH

  5. Oh, there were other student who were impacted and I know personally are in the field of service. I’m sure there were thoes not permanently impacted. But hey, It impacted me and my little 35+ klan.

    “There was a short term change but it didn’t have a last effect. DH” Sounds like you have omnipotence to know such things! wink! wink!

    Where do you see lasting effects?

  6. Charles, I was referring to a partical rivival that I observed. Last effects are usually in the individual lives that are changed. That is why I am sketicpal of an big “outpouring” type service.

  7. I would certainly disagree with that statement. From my experiences much of what happens in an outpouring service is emotional.

    Most of the things I have seen with lasting results happened in the local churches and didn’t involve much if any showy stuff or sensastionalism.

  8. Sadly, I have seen “revivalists” use manipulative means to boost the number of people at the altar during the invitation. There are many stories I can share of how I have seen “revivalists” do this.
    The real problem is that it has been so long since there has been a national awakening that it seems anything passes as a “revival”.

  9. Quinn,

    That is true. I think sometimes these meetings are kind of like Thursday night at camp. The kids have heard preaching all week & they are tried. Yes, there are some real decisions made but many just get caught up in the moment.

  10. I do agree. I’ve been at some evangelism meetings were people got saved and they were never heard again. I think what put Billy Graham above the rest. He gets all the church’s invovled. He makes sure that everyone that gets saved gets a call by a local church. It’s not just about numbers for him. It’s accountability. I think revivals are fun. Yes it does take people wanting and seeking something. It’s also cool watching the movement of God. Seeing the Holy Spirit move at while. A true revival will show it’s affects years down the road. It’s up to the churchs to stay invovled in the congregation. Keeping in touch by a church can keep some people invovled. Just a simple hello. How are you doing? We missed you… Can make a big difference. Nice post.

  11. Rev Josh,

    You are correct about Billy Graham. He is ver much into accountablity and involving local churches. I have read in several sources and also saw mentioned in something I watched about Graham that something happened early in his ministry to teach him the neccissity of accoutnablitiy. I believe he didn’t actually do anything wrong but was put in a situation that could be precieved as wrong doing.

    D.

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