Church revival meetings used to be big events. They have taken numerous forms over time but all come down to a big meeting that draws in outside people to the church. In the 1700’s they were barn meetings held literally in someone’s barn that was big enough to hold a large group of people. In the 1800 and 1900’s the meetings moved into the church and sometimes went on for weeks.
Without a doubt people got saved at these meetings. The gospel was preached boldly and people came forward in droves. Revival meetings were standard at churches through the 1950’s until late in the century. Today, many churches do not hold revival meetings at all. Those that do usually only last a week and some have cut back to three or four days.
Of course many reflect back to the “good old days” when these revival meetings were still in full swing. Without a doubt, the power of the gospel has not diminished. And it is doubtful that modern day preachers have become less effective than in years gone by. Yes, undoubtedly some preach watered down, touchy feely messages but there are still many who speak the word of God plainly.
So this brings us to the fact that culture has changed. The gospel has not changed. Its ability to change lives has not changed. There is no substitute available that comes close to filling the void in people’s lives that Jesus does. The problem comes in getting people to revival meetings. There are many things competing for our attention and a person can’t hear the gospel at a revival meeting when they are at home watching one of their 700 satellite channels.
The attendance boost from revival meetings is usually from church members inviting members of other churches. When the gospel is presented, it falls on the ears of people who do not need it because they are already saved.
Of course there are occasions that unchurched people attend revival meetings and hear the gospel and respond to it. It is unfair to discount these occurrences. But they are fewer and further between these days because fewer and fewer non churched people are showing up at revival meetings.
The power of the gospel has not disappeared from revival meetings, there are just less people for it to reach. Can a church meeting compete with popular culture whether it’s watching tv or taking kids to sporting events? The answer is no and it shouldn’t have to. The true power of the gospel is in impacted lives. Show non churched people how a life has been changed by Jesus Christ and they are going to notice. They won’t need to attend a revival meeting to experience the power of the gospel but they may be more willing to come when invited the next time they are asked.