Ringley Brothers and revivals

Published 2:55 pm Friday, September 20, 2019

Each year the church I work with prepares a time for spiritual focus and renewal. Revival. And I’ve found that that’s pretty common in our area, in the central Virginia region.

Several years ago while I was serving a church in Norfolk, I felt that God was leading me to have a revival for our church. I had envisioned a big tent with an energetic, soulful choir singing all the old hymns.

A director of missions I had worked with in the Peninsula Baptist Association was the perfect preacher for the revival services. He was a powerful, dynamic preacher, who had a deep, resounding voice.

A huge tent was raised on the lot of land right next to the church. While the entire series of services went very well, we did not experience a “revival” for any extended period beyond each service that I could discern.

When I asked several members who were faithful in attendance why they weren’t present at any of the revival services, I was told, “We don’t go for stuff like that.” That’s my best recollection of the quote, maybe not verbatim but that was pretty much the sentiment. That was not the reaction I anticipated. I was surprised at the reaction by some in the congregation to the opportunity for revival services. That was the only time I felt led to pursue revival services in my 12 years of ministry in the Peninsula area.

The experience reminded me of a conversation I had with my home church pastor in Alabama where I served as a “Ministerial Intern.” My pastor had been invited to preach a series of revival sermons. When the week concluded and upon his return I asked if revival “happened.” His response was a teachable moment, “Some people just like to hear good music and good preaching.”

Please hear me correctly; we need to hear good preaching and good music. I suppose I’m looking for a little clarification. Several weeks ago we placed flyers to promote our revival services. The reaction was much like posting for a circus coming to town. In 2017 I took my family to the last Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus in Richmond. It was a bittersweet event and we were saddened that there would be no more circuses after 146 years. Sure, there will be entertainment events similar or in the style, such as the Marvel heroes show, etc. I can’t help but think of the implication for revival services, as I have experienced them in churches.

I don’t have any answers. But I do remain committed to several beliefs — God is
still working in our church, we are at this address for a reason, we are not here by accident and we are determined to make a difference in our community. Yes, we have the same challenges. But the spirit of revival is victorious. May you experience revival in your life!