I am unashamedly Baptist. I have sat in the worst of the worst of business meetings, and I have eaten of the worst potluck casseroles. I have heard the arguments for hymnals as well as the arguments for screens. I have heard some of the worst things said in a church, and witnessed the most despicable treating of a pastor one can imagine. I have also seen hundreds come to Christ in local out reach, and rejoiced on the mission field as I have seen the Lord work in unexplainable ways. I have seen the local autonomous church impact a community for the advancement of the Kingdom. As well as seen local associations, state conventions, and the national SBC affect the world with the truth of the Gospel of Christ.
One of the ways Baptists have done outreach historically, is through revivals, or camp meetings. Most of these events have taken place in generations past, and if they are still utilized today they are done so with a new contemporary bent. A fancy logo is created in Adobe that employs bright colors and appealing geometric shapes. An edgy name is thought up, and an intriguing theme is used. Now, if an “old fashioned” revival is had, it is usually at a small country church that only does it out of tradition. For the last 75 years FBC of So and So has been having an annual revival, and every year the same people experience the same emotionally charged preaching. These same people habitually walk the aisle crying, snotting, and slobbering the whole way. The meetings last maybe a week, but soon everyone is back to the same day to day grind they always are; until next year anyway. People like to think back about the good time preaching, and the music of yesteryear, but why? Why is there such a gap in the praxis of this tool. Is this tool still effective?
The reason why these meetings have been used in the past is because the Holy Spirit has often used them to instill a great awakening in people. In the past however, people were more willing to think, process, evaluate, and conclude the truthfulness of what was being preached. The people of generations past were more inclined to critically evaluate what was being said because they were in the practice of using there God given faculties. In today’s emotionally charged world people are distracted by: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (is that still around?), linkedin, foursquare, tumbler, wordpress, blogspot, instagram, ESPN (2, News, and the ocho), ABC, FOX, MSNBC, TMZ, CBS, PBS, CNN, Yahoo, snapchat (do not even understand this one), ad nauseam! If you not know the meaning of ad nauseam, than you prove my very point.
In today’s church the spoon feeding method is more desirable than pulling out the steak knife to get into the meat of the Word. As Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:2 he has had to feed with milk because the people were not ready for the solid food. This is backed up by the author of Hebrews who says his audience should be teaching but because they had not matured they had to continue on milk. Is today’s church still nursing? Where is the steak?!?! We have allowed ourselves to be infiltrated with laziness and ignorance. We let ourselves be driven by emotions and not fact. We sing “Just as I am” 17 times, pray, and dismiss. Where is the intellectual growth in this? Does the neglect of the intellect honor God?
The ironic thing about this post is, this coming weekend the church I serve on Pastoral Staff at is hosting our second annual Bible conference. This conference is a twist on the revivals of the past, but what we commit to do is challenge our audience. Yes, there will still be alter calls. Yes, there will be an emotional aspect to the three day event. Yes, the services will be evangelistic in nature; and all of these things are good! Emotions are good, God created us in His image and God shows emotion. I do not want to undercut the importance of emotion. Without emotion there is no conviction. We may logically deduce that we have sinned, but true repentance has an ere of sorrow surrounding it. In that aspect I acknowledge there is no real change in the formatting of our event and those of the past. Where we differ is that the preaching will not only be evangelistic, it will also be geared at the Christian. Again, emotions are good; when our people are convicted, instructed, or exhorted they will logically understand these things, and this understand invokes an emotional response.
I am so proud of the people in my church. They not only respond appropriately with their emotions, they take time to think about why they should respond in the first place. In that sense, I am more blessed than most in my position to serve such people. If you are reading this today, and you have the habit of saying things like, “I feel that,” or “My feelings are,” STOP IT! I argue, those feelings are actually thoughts. Without your initial thoughts your emotions are misguided. God gave you a brain, glorify Him by using it. As a Baptist, I would love to see a church full of people willing to use there mind in worship during a revival. I believe in so doing, they will actually be more effective witnesses for the Kingdom of God.
All this being said… If you are in the Houston area and want to experience powerful preaching, and phenomenal music; plan on attending Southview Baptist’s second annual Bible conference this weekend. Services begin at 7pm on Friday and Saturday, and 9:15am on Sunday. Click the link to the church page for more information, and directions.