FIRST-PERSON: Are revivals effective?
EDITOR'S NOTE: J. Robert White is executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
DULUTH, Ga. (BP) -- I was in a small gathering of folks the other week when a dear lady made reference to a revival she had been a part of.
"But, of course, nobody has revivals anymore," she said with such confidence. I wanted to say, "Well, that's not exactly right. I am beginning a revival this Sunday at Summit Baptist Church in Loganville."
Here in Georgia, I remember very distinctly one statistic that stood out from research a few years ago about evangelistic churches: Churches that have revivals baptize more people than churches that do not have revivals.
In my book "Healthy Kingdom Churches" a few years back, I wrote about a doctor friend, who accepted the task of getting me well from a respiratory ailment, so I could preach a revival meeting at Atco Baptist Church in Cartersville. He made a statement and then asked a question: "I didn't know churches were still having revivals. Are revivals still effective?"
I gave the most sincere and honest answer I knew: "Revivals are effective in some churches and not in others."
"How do you explain that?" he asked.
I responded, "It's like most other things. The success of a revival is determined largely by the amount of effort put into getting ready for revival."
The revival at Atco Baptist Church was truly amazing. It happened because the pastor, Wayne Hamrick, had prepared the congregation through praying for revival and witnessing across the community. That week we saw 57 people come to faith in Christ. In one service, we saw over 20 make professions of faith. There were many other decisions as well, with people making rededication commitments and coming on transfer of membership. God had done an amazing thing among His people who dared to trust that if they prayed and witnessed, God would do what only God can do.
I have come to the conclusion that it is wrong to declare the death of revivals, when the only reason they may be dead in a church is a lack of commitment to pray for revival toward reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the first service at the recent revival at Summit Baptist Church, pastor Jason Rothe made the statement that the congregation had literally been praying for months for this series of services. That did not surprise me because when I arrived at the church, I found a vibrant congregation filled with anticipation over what the Lord would do during the week. When the invitation was given, the aisles filled with people coming down front to pray and to unite with the church.
I want to encourage you to plan a revival for your church. As you do, remember that we have a good number of vocational evangelists in our Baptist family that God is using in a great way. When you contact them you will discover faithful, energetic and effective servants of Christ ready to bless your church.