When I was kid growing up in the churches that my father pastored, one of the annual traditions was the Spring Revival. A revival was a four-day long event that began on Sunday morning and continued with nightly gatherings all the way through Wednesday. The focus was on preaching, evangelism, and spiritual renewal, usually with a guest preacher leading the way. It was a time for the church collectively to reconnect to its purpose of making disciples, and for individual believers to renew their commitment to the church and to her Lord.
Revivals have fallen out of fashion in these postmodern times. The general argument has been that in our busy world if you can’t get people to even come out once for worship on Sunday morning, then how in the world are you going to get them to come out four nights in a row! I will admit it is an argument that I myself have often made and has been one of the reasons why in 15 years of pastoral ministry I have never hosted a revival.
Well, enough with the excuses (mine included). We need revival, and so this spring Bayshore Baptist Church is going to have one. Our Spring Revival will take place on Sunday, April 7 through Wednesday, April 10. It will begin with Sunday morning worship (which will be a combined worship service that day), and it will continue with nightly worship on Sunday through Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.
The guest preacher for the event will be my father, Dr. Al Cadenhead. When I approached him about the idea several months ago, he was extremely excited. He and my mother have had a special heart for Bayshore ever since my family moved here almost two years ago, and he is greatly looking forward to the opportunity to share God’s word with us. (Of course, the opportunity to come and spend some time with his granddaughters didn’t hurt his enthusiasm!) I am confident that after 40 years in full-time ministry he will have a word to share with us that will be worth hearing.
Can we really expect that people will respond to an event like this? Well, it depends. Do we still believe that Jesus has the power to draw people to himself? Do we still believe that God’s word has the power to change lives – ours included? Amidst all the talk about the church being relevant in a changing world there is the danger that we might lose sight of one basic fact: The church is founded, built, and sustained by the word of God. It’s fine to innovate and be creative with the form and the shape of things, but there is no innovating the fact that we need God’s word – both the Living Word, Jesus Christ, and the proclaimed word through which He is made present to us. What better way to be relevant than to spend four days gathering around that word?
Far from whatever caricatures might exist about revivals, it is not about hellfire and damnation. It is about renewal, hope, and joy. Surrounded as we are by a culture that constantly speaks to us of decay and disillusionment, I can think of nothing more affirming and positive than to be reminded of the life and the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. It is no coincidence that we have scheduled the Revival to begin on the Sunday after Easter, at a time when the church is still celebrating the glory of the resurrection.
In preparation, I ask you to do three things. First, commit to pray for our revival. We need the Holy Spirit to prepare all of us for His movement among us. Second, commit to be present at our revival. This isn’t for somebody else; it is for you. And third, bring somebody with you. That is the most effective method of outreach the church has ever had!
Looking forward to being revived,