A revival meeting is a series of Christian religious services held to inspire active members of a church body to gain new converts and to call sinners to repent. Nineteenth-century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon said, "Many blessings may come to the unconverted in consequence of a revival among Christians, but the revival itself has to do only with those who already possess spiritual life." These meetings are usually conducted by churches or missionary organizations throughout the world. Notable historic revival meetings were conducted in the US by evangelist Billy Sunday and in Wales by evangelist Evan Roberts. Revival services occur in local churches, brush arbor revivals, tent revivals, and camp meetings.
A revival meeting usually consists of several consecutive nights of services conducted at the same time and location, most often the building belonging to the sponsoring congregation but sometimes a rented assembly hall, for more adequate space, to provide a setting that is more comfortable for non-Christians, or to reach a community where there are no churches. Tents were very frequently employed in this effort in the recent past, and occasionally still are, but less so due to the difficulties in heating and cooling them and otherwise making them comfortable, an increasing consideration with modern audiences.
Ben M. Bogard, from 1909 to 1914, conducted revivals full-time in seven southern states. In 1924, he founded the American Baptist Association, the Missionary Baptist denomination, still based in Texarkana, Texas. ABA churches have traditionally held revivals usually once or twice a year.
The length of such meetings varies. Until the last quarter-century they were frequently a week or more in duration, especially in the Southern United States. Currently they may be held for three or four days. Evangelist Billy Graham planned a week-long crusade in New York City, which ultimately extended from May 15 to September 1, 1957. More than two million people went to New York's Madison Square Garden to hear him preach.
Most groups holding revival meetings tend to be of a conservative or fundamentalist nature, although some are still held by Mainline groups, which formerly conducted them with a far greater frequency. Similar events may be referred to as "crusades", most especially those formerly held by Billy Graham and Oral Roberts.
Along with camp meetings, the holding of revival services is an integral part of the Methodist tradition, in which they serve to offer individuals the New Birth (first work of grace) and entire sanctification (second work of grace).
Conservative Mennonites continue to hold and promote protracted revival meetings of usually seven or eight days duration at least once per year in a given congregation. The visiting evangelist is chosen from among their own or related congregations.
Many revivals are conducted by nondenominational community churches, most of which are conservative in theology.
In popular culture
This movement has been portrayed by director Richard Brooks in his 1960 film Elmer Gantry with Burt Lancaster (who received the Academy Award for this film) and Jean Simmons, adapted from Sinclair Lewis' eponymous novel.
- Camp meeting
- Charles Grandison Finney
- Christian revival
- Smithton Revival
- Tabernacle (Methodist)
- Tent revival
- "What Is a Revival?". Archived from the original on 2002-06-14.
- "Billy Sunday Biographies - Christian Biography - Wholesome Words". www.wholesomewords.org.
- "Welsh Revival". www.welshrevival.com.
- Marberry, Mark (2 May 2019). "Brush arbor revivals are still around". Daily Journal Online.
- "Benjamin Marcus Bogard (1868–1951)". encyclopediaofarkansas.net. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
- Black, Daryl (2003). "'The Excitement of High and Holy Affections': Baptist Revival and Cultural Creation in the Upper-Piedmont Georgia Cotton Belt, 1800-1828". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 87 (3/4): 329–358. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
- http://www.ghi-dc.org/files/publications/bulletin/bu044/bu44_071.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- Oconer, Luther Jeremiah (12 October 2017). Spirit-Filled Protestantism: Holiness-Pentecostal Revivals and the Making of Filipino Methodist Identity. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 4. ISBN 9781498203609.
- Ives, Charles E. (1973) Memos (ed. Kirkpatrick), Calder & Boyars, p. 92