I am a supporter of revival. I will go on record and say that I am an advocate for any type of campaign that preaches the Word and stirs God’s people to faith and repentance. I will go a little further and say I am not in favor of cold, dead religion. The Holy Spirit of God quickens the souls of men and breathes life into the church, empowering them for the work of the ministry. I will say, however, that we must be careful in our “big meetings” as to not give the wrong idea to this generation concerning true spirituality.
EXCITEMENT AND THE REALITY OF FAITH
There is a great disservice coming from our campaigns if we reduce Christianity only to the hypes and hoopla’s of our shouts. My life has benefited greatly from revivals, jubilees, conferences, and “big meetings.” But my continual, ongoing, everyday nourishment comes from the ministry of my local church, and a personal walk with Christ. One thing I notice in following and even being a part of big-meeting campaigns, is that we maximize our resources to bring people to a place where excitement and anticipation seems to be the main thrust of the gathering. I have said it myself, “Anybody could have preached in that service!” What I mean is: the atmosphere and climate is full of liberty and freedom to worship. And I absolutely love it. I love it when God’s people come together with such joy, praise, and a sense of spiritual awe that every song, every testimony, and every message is dripping with the presence and touch of God. But I will say, that is not all there is to our faith.
COMING DOWN FROM THE MEETING
When Christ and His disciples descended the mount of transfiguration they were immediately met with ministerial needs and requirements. It would have been good, as Peter contended, to just build a few tabernacles, and basked in the glory of God’s goodness. But, at the base of the hill there was some hurting, real, imperfect people waiting on them to come down. Those individuals needed the disciples to move beyond the mountaintop and get to the ministry. I can relate to Simon Peter; I, too, enjoy those mountain-top gatherings where the inner-circle of my brethren meet and enjoy the presence of God, but even Christ descended from that campaign. And He descended with disciples who were powerless to cast out devils because of their lack of true spirituality – prayer and fasting. They had been to the big meeting but they were still ill-suited for ministry. What a sad and sober commentary it is when disciples can shout the victory but simultaneously have no power to stand against the enemy.
WHERE REAL MINISTRY TAKES PLACE
We must be careful not to discredit the ongoing, continual, perpetual work of the local church. In contrast to the “big meeting” the typical Sunday service at the house of God may seem lackluster, boring even. But this is real Christianity. Rarely in the New Testament do you see great campaigns taking place where quick-talking evangelists stir the crowd into a spiritual frenzy. Instead, you see believers systematically being fed, nurtured, taught, cared for, and even disciplined in a local assembly. To the onlooker this may seem dull and monotonous, but I assure you, the early church knew something about the power of God.
I wonder how often we leave the big meeting only to go back to our places of worship dissatisfied with the lack of excitement and energy awaiting us there? But the truth is, what is waiting us there is simply the manifestation of true Christianity. As a pastor, I must leave those big meetings (that I greatly enjoy) and bury the loved ones of my church members. I must console parents who have lost their children to the world. I must preach the Word in its totality, even those portions that do not stir the emotions. I must deal with issues internally and externally that rise up against the church. I must contend with real, messy, imperfect, people who have been fighting hell in their backyard, who have never been privy to the big meetings. I must train, equip, teach, admonish, plan, strategize, pray, nurture my soul and the souls of many others. Much of this is not conducted under the mantra of a meeting, but it is spirituality nonetheless.
MEETINGS AND MEALS
I am not saying we should cancel our revivals and jubilees; if anything, I advocate that we should be more zealous about putting them together. But we must realize that most of our spiritual development comes from the systematic, consistent heartbeat of the church. I have enjoyed some very expensive, very delicious, very satisfying meals over the course of my life in restaurants with world-class chefs. But the truth is, most of what sustains me is eaten at home through the ongoing provision by those whom God has entrusted with my care. Big meetings are like big meals…they are wonderful to experience, but they can’t be what feeds the soul on a continual basis. Someone must come down from the mountain, spread a table away from the lights and sounds of the big meeting and just feed people. Such a campaign may never get you published in the latest periodicals, but I assure you brethren, it will be recorded in heaven.