Revival meeting

From Academic Kids

A revival meeting is a series of Christian religious services held with an eye to encourage active members of a religious body and to provoke those outside of it to become part of it. These meetings are usually conducted by members of American Protestant churches and those educated or influenced by them; mission works of such churches often conduct them in Africa and India.

Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) was called "America's foremost revivalist," was a major leader of the Second Great Awakening in America that had a profound impact on the history of the United States.

Generally speaking, a revival meeting consists of several consecutive nights of services conducted at the same time and location each night, most often the building belonging to the sponsoring congregation but sometimes a rented secular assembly hall, for more adequate space or an attempt to appeal to the unchurched in a setting that will presumably be less intimidating to them. 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.

The focus at revival meetings is often on the sermon, which is usually delivered by a well-known minister from outside the immediate area in which the meeting is being held in order to enhance the event as "special". Most sermons are designed to evoke a visible response from the audience, either to make an initial commitment to follow Jesus or to repent from sins committed since that commitment was initially made.

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 three or four days is more typical, although occasionally some are still held, especially in Pentecostal groups, "according to Holy Spirit time," that is until the visible results seem to slow or stop and attendance dwindles.

Most groups holding revival meetings tend to be of a conservative or fundamentalist nature, although the phenomenon is far from unheard of in Mainline groups, which used to conduct them with a far greater frequency and fervor in some instances than is now fashionable. Similar events may be referred to as "crusades", especially when a particularly noted speaker like Billy Graham or Oral Roberts is involved.

In the Church of Christ such events are almost invariably referred as gospel meetings rather than revival meetings. This group is one of the most likely to conduct such events in the 21st century. For the most part, aside from the large, spectacular "crusades", most American Protestant groups other than Baptists and Pentecostals have become less active in holding revival meetings in recent years, but some of the vacuum has been filled by similar activities hosted by non-denonominational community churches, most of which are conservative in theology. Many revivals are attempts to catch much of the flavor, and fervor, of the camp meeting without exposing their participants to the physical rigors of such an experience.

In the Cinema

This movement has been beautifully painted by director Richard Brooks in his film Elmer Gantry (1960 in film) with Burt Lancaster(who received the Academy award for this film) and Jean Simmons, adaptated from Sinclair Lewis' eponym novel (1927).

See also

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