Thursday, April 30, 2015

What is a revival

The 2015 revival of the Mars Hill - Piney Grove UMC Circuit has drawn to a close in Athens, Tennis. The message that Rev. Will Shelton brought was greeted by eager listeners. Several people who aren't familiar with this type of service have asked what is a revival. So, this post will try to explain what a revival is.

A revival is a special Christian worship service that is dedicated to uplifting people who need a boost. Peppy and upbeat, the service focuses on reaching those who haven't "found" Jesus. At the same time, it gives a spiritual boost to all who attend. It's sort of a religious mix of Christian motivational speaking and down home gospel songs.

Revivals began during the Great Awakening in Europe in the 1600-1700s. The practice be came more widespread under John Wesley ( the founder of the Methodist church.) These worship services took place in churches, in courtyards and under shade trees.

Today a revival service often takes place inside the church building. However,  it is not uncommon to see a large tent on the church lawn in spring or fall.
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Revivals are very carefully planned. It is always steeped in a few weeks of prayer. A speaker (evangelist) is invited to preach. Special music groups, singers or choirs may also be invited to perform. In rural churches, the music that the congregation sings most frequently is old time gospel songs. Hymns such as I'll Fly Away or Victory in Jesus are frequently sung in Southern rural churches, who may also mix in contemporary tunes from time-to-time. Dress is almost always casual.

In addition to being asked what a revival is, people are also asking me if the practice is dying out or becoming obsolete. All that I can say is that won't happen in the churches that I serve, and prayerfully, neither revivals nor Christianity, will ever become obsolete. It's up to each of us to keep both alive. I pray that we will all do our part.