In recent history, it was a common thing for churches to hold extended meetings with guest evangelists. Quite frequently they would start on a Sunday morning with meetings that would run through Wednesday, or sometimes through the following Sunday. During those days, I traveled from church to church preaching the messages which God placed on my heart, as the result of many hours of fervent prayer.
As I arrived at a church, I was always amazed by the fact that often I had no advanced knowledge from one day to the next concerning which topic I would be addressing during subsequent evenings. Even so, the messages always seemed to mesh nightly like the gears on a clock on the night before.
In prayer each day prior to the services, the topics just seemed to leap off the pages of the Bible. The Holy Spirit always placed additional supportive scriptures on my heart. Then, as I was faithful to preach those messages, people’s hearts would be touched. We would conclude each service with prayer together at the altar. As people chose to attend those nightly meetings, they received another dose of God’s power, and lives would be changed one service at a time. By the end of the week, the spiritual “shots in the arm” everyone experienced would spring them forward into the weeks and months to come. That is why, back then, the special meetings were commonly called “revival” services.
When my children were growing up, I always insisted that we attend church every time the doors were open. My two daughters and son were always part of all youth programs appropriate for their ages. Whenever a visiting speaker came to my home church for extended meetings, we attended every service faithfully. Sometimes it did feel like a sacrifice. Yet, as one who had been on both sides of the pulpit, I understood that each sacrifice was well worth making.
Today, my oldest daughter is a public-school teacher and a much-loved wife and mother of my two grandchildren. My middle daughter also teaches in a special school for gifted children in a major city in Pennsylvania. My son is an Army Ranger, a First Lieutenant, and is preparing to be promoted to Captain. He serves in a special branch of the military. I give all the glory to God for their success, but also credit the solid foundation that was built under them as they faithfully attended our local church.
They say true Christianity is better “caught” than “taught.” I maintain that there is no better place for children to be caught by Christ than in His church.
Sadly, as an evangelist with a lot of experience in church ministries, I also witnessed the other side the issue of faithful attendance. I well remember seeing the sad, sometimes tear-filled eyes of pastors as they apologized for the sporadic attendance of their congregants at both regular and special services. Sometimes, a year of planning and a few thousand dollars were invested in bringing in a guest speaker. Expenses included housing and food. Promotional materials were often purchased, including radio spots, to advertise this special event well in advance. In almost every instance, special prayer meetings were held in the week(s) prior to the event. Sadly, even with all of this preparation, there were cases when, even though most of the regulars would attend on Sunday morning, very few would turn out faithfully every night. Far too many church people simply lacked an appetite for more of God in their life. This would often break the pastor’s heart, as he was well aware of how intensely his flock needed to be revived.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Nolan Harkness