Let’s say I rent a big building with thousands of seats for several days, invite a bunch of speakers to come and talk over the course of those days, invite some great musicians to play emotionally moving music, and use lots of marketing by word of mouth, tv, social media, billboards and websites to get people in the doors. The people come, enjoy what they see and hear, and many of them feel their lives have changed because of what they heard and saw. A year afterward, there is no way to tell that anything had happened there. Yes, some lives were changed, but the overall culture of the area and activities done there are left totally unchanged.
What was that? What just happened?
Most people in the world would just call it a convention, and a successful one at that. The goal was to get a bunch of people to hear some teaching, and it’s a great way for the person who organized the whole thing to make a name for themselves. It’s also a great way to recruit people to a cause and to make lots of money when merchants are allowed to sell their wares there. If held at no cost to those who participate in it, it’s a great way to disseminate some teaching and concepts. Things like this are held all over the U.S. these days and recognized as what they are. Conventions.
Since when did we start to call conventions revivals, simply because they involve Bible teaching? Yet many people do so today. A pastor or group of pastors choose to do the same thing I described above either on a smaller scale or a larger scale, and then they call it a revival.
The word, “revival” was originally meant to describe what happens when something that was dead or nearly dead is being brought back to life. dictionary.com’s first definition of revival is; “restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.”
Many pastors in America look at the state of the people in their church gatherings and rightly say, “this church needs a revival,” and then set up a convention in their building. They spend lots of money, work themselves to exhaustion, and then say, “wow! Look how God moved!” Or maybe they burn out in the process (this happens more often then most will admit).
America has seen perhaps thousands of these conventions, err, “revivals,” yet God’s visible church in America is shrinking to fewer and fewer people while immorality in this nation has exceeded the evils of Sodom, Gomorra, Rome, Babylon and Nazi Germany combined. What of those nations could boast in 55 million murdered children in acts sanctioned by the state as we can? We don’t care for the poor and the fatherless in America, we murder them.
I strongly encourage you to read about the lives of David Brainerd, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Hudson Taylor and Reese Howells. Men who weren’t satisfied with conventions but longed for genuine moves of God. Read about the 1st and 2nd great awakenings, the move of God that took place from 1949-1951 in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland and the work God did at the Azusa street mission in 1906. Learn what true revival looks like, and ask God to bring it to you and your community, because men start conventions, but God starts true revivals.