Special Evangelistic Meetings At The Local Church
The church where I grew up had “Revival Meetings” twice a year which basically were a week of special church services where a visiting Evangelist would come and preach. Often many of the 12-13 year olds would come forward to accept Jesus Christ. The kids who had been raised in the church called it “joining church”. After the week of meetings, and after the evangelist left to go home, special classes were given to teach basically denominational doctrine, then the “candidate” was baptized in water as an outward sign for what had happened inwardly. The last Sunday of the week of services was usually a big deal with a congregational dinner following the service.
Two things stick out in my memory about these services:
1) Although attending dozens of them, I did not accept Jesus at any of them. I accepted Jesus while sitting in the lounge chair in our living room at home, as the sun peered through the front window. In the warmth of that moment, somehow, I knew God was real, and made a life changing commitment. My parents never understood what had happened because I never “went forward” to the altar at one of these services. Later I would discover that John Wesley wrote about his conversion, “I was strangely warmed”, and I know that is what I had also experienced.
2) I know of a person who “joined church” but did not accept Jesus as their Savior. When taking communion, they would actually get ill. I had an opportunity to lead that person into the kingdom of God, introducing them to Jesus as the Lord and Savior, and they have been enjoying communion ever since.
But again, an evangelist is brought in for a series of meetings or services, only to leave when the event is completed. Most of Christianity looks at the evangelist as a parachurch ministry rather than an extension of the local church. At least that is the current mindset in most churches. That needs to change, which we will examine in future blogs.