How To Prepare for Revival Meetings
By Dr. Gene Parisher
For the purpose of this article I am assuming that you recognize the need for having revival meetings. Having made that assumption we move on to the four main things I want to cover plus a few closingstatements.
CHOOSING THE EVANGELIST
It is clear in Scripture that the evangelist is a gift to the church. While some churches are down-playing the importance of revival meetings and thereby excluding the evangelist from his role in benefiting the local church, I believe the church is suffering unnecessarily. It is important that the evangelist be used. And, it is also important that the right evangelist be selected to assist the church in their revival efforts. There are a number of good evangelists in our ranks today. We need to make an effort to hear these men and seek recommendations from those we trust who have used them. There must be earnest prayer and consideration as to whom we should bring in for revival. I am hearing good things about some of the young evangelists coming out of Ambassador Baptist Bible College. It is the pastor’s responsibility to select an evangelist and schedule the revival and it must be done early to get the evangelist he desires.
PREPARING THE CHURCH
The responsibility of preparing the church rests largely with the pastor. Through his preaching and his passion, he must move the peoples’ hearts and minds in the direction of revival. The people will seldom have a greater passion than their leader. In many cases the pastor drops the ball simply because he is not ready for revival.
It is also the pastor’s responsibility to lead the church in planning or organizing for revival. I will have much to say about that later in this article.
An important part of preparation is praying. Our praying should begin early. Several months before the revival it should appear on the church calendar. The pastor should begin to publicly pray for the meeting and the evangelist. As the meeting moves closer small group prayer meetings should be organized. We have fifteen deacons in our church among whom the families of the church are divided. I ask each of them to sponsor a prayer meeting among their families. In the past we have used a prayer chain. A sheet is put out and the people sign up at thirty minute intervals to pray twenty-four hours around the clock on the weekend before the meeting begins. We also have a men’s prayer breakfast on the Saturday before the revival starts on Sunday. We encourage our men and women who can get to the revival early to meet for organized prayer before the services.
ORGANIZING FOR RESULTS
Promotion – As has been said, begin early to promote. Be sure it is on the church calendar and there is nothing allowed on the calendar that would interfere with revival. It is the most important thing happening for that week. Announcements should be made early so that people can adjust their calendars. Public praying begins to establish in the minds of the people the importance of the meeting. As you move closer, the promotion begins to intensify. Handouts that are attractive and well-done should be available to the people. Letters should be sent out to the membership and neighboring pastors giving details about the revival and encouraging attendance. Public service radio and newspaper announcements should be utilized. If you have money budgeted for advertising those ads should appear a few days before the meeting begins. Personal Workers – A training session is essential in order for the personal workers to know what you expect of them. They should be well taught in how to deal scripturally with those who make decisions. A handout that will fit in their Bibles should be given them so they can refer to it often. Tell them when they should come forward and where they should stand during the invitation. Instruct them on where the prayer rooms are and when it is appropriate to deal with someone at the altar rather than take them to the prayer room. Go over the decision card with them. Let them know how to handle hard cases and when to refer them to the pastor. Teach them how to get a commitment on baptism and church membership. They must be sure to get the follow-up material in their hands. Be sure they understand that they should bring the person whom they dwelt with to the pastor, evangelist, or some other Christian and have the person tell what has happened. Doing a demonstration is sometimes helpful.
Music – In my opinion, congregational singing is the most important singing we do. For a revival we should use familiar gospel songs that have a strong message with good movement. A draggy song service will not help the revival. The choir should sing every night and do their most familiar and best done songs. They should rehearse prior to revival week. There will be little time for rehearsal before the revival services. Put your best foot forward for special music during revival. Use only your tried and proven groups or soloists Monitor the songs and be sure they are appropriate. Plan ahead and get a commitment from your accompanists, choir, and specials. This is no time for surprises. Emphasize being on time. We must remember, music compliments the preaching, but does not take time from it.
Special Nights – Special nights can create excitement and a good-natured competition. Let me suggest to you some special nights we have had in the past: Ladies’ Night, Men’s Night, Pack-A-Pew Night, Christian School Night, Sunday School Night, Youth Night, God and Country Night, Friend Night, Family Night, Prophesy Night. Spend a little money on gifts and promote the special nights. It will help your attendance.
Equipment and Sound Check – Check your equipment and do your sound checks before service time so that corrections can be made and problems solved without interfering with the service. In order to do this someone must be responsible. Taping – Audio and video taping can be done but we must not compete with the evangelist on the sale of tapes. I recommend that the church not sell any tapes until after the meeting is over and the evangelist is gone.
Ushers – Emphasize the importance of appearance. Punctuality is important as well. Ushers create first impressions of a church, which means they should be friendly and warm to people. If the building is filling up and it is close to starting time, ushers should assist in seating. Assistance should always be given after the service starts. The ushers should be alert to problems and help out when needed. Those who usher should receive proper training.
Building – It should have a neat and clean appearance each night. Thermostats should be set well ahead of time so that the building is at the proper temperature when services begin. Do not overheat the building. People become drowsy and sleepy and are not able to concentrate well. The building should be opened early and people should not feel rushed to leave.
Saturday Blitz – It is a good idea on the Saturday before the revival starts to organize a blitz, an all-out effort to reach the homes in the area. We start at ten o’clock and stop at twelve noon. Get a revival brochure and tract into the hands of as many people as possible. You might even have lunch for them when they return to the church.
CARING FOR THE EVANGELIST
Provide adequate housing – Some evangelists pull their own trailers. The church should have proper hook-ups installed and water available before they arrive. Those who do not bring their own housing should be put in a clean, desirable motel if the church can afford it. If it is necessary to put them in a home, do so with as much consideration as possible for their time and privacy.
Travel expense – Most evangelists pro-rate their travel costs. Ask the evangelist about the cost and mail him a check before he comes or give it to him soon after he arrives. If he figures his travel on mileage then we would pay what the Internal Revenue Service allows for mileage. This cost should come out of the church budget.
Meals – Be flexible on meals and accommodate the evangelist’s wishes. We provide an amount for meals if he prefers to eat in his trailer. We will take him out to eat or a combination of both. Seldom do we eat in homes.
Schedule – We are careful about making time demands on the evangelist. We allow him to suggest a schedule and we meet it if we can. If not, we will negotiate the schedule until we agree.
Share needs and pray together – We have a common cause and interest for the week we are together. I want the evangelist to know the needs of the church and to pray with me about those needs.
Promote generous love offerings – The pastor should never resent the evangelist’s love offering, nor should he ever take any of it for the expenses of the meeting. If you must take an offering for expenses be sure the people know that is what it is for. When the love offering is taken all of it should go to the evangelist. The pastor should sincerely express public appreciation for the work of the evangelist and do what he can to encourage his people to show their appreciation in their giving.
1. The more involved your people get in the revival the more they will get out of it and the greater likelihood of a good meeting.
2. Revival time in the local church is an important event so pour yourself into it.
3. Keep a positive attitude of expectation even if you are not seeing the results you envisioned. You don’t always know what God is doing.
4. Encourage and exhort your people without brow-beating them. Revival can bring out the best or the worst in us.
5. The pastor should never feel he is competing with the evangelist for the love and favor of his people. Jealousy can foster a lot of bad reaction.
6. Recognize God’s sovereignty in sending revival. We do our best and leave the rest to God. 7. The pastor should spend time with his people recounting the blessings of God. This helps to conserve the results.
8. Trust God to continue the revival after the evangelist is gone.