Consider me a bit struck by the nostalgia of the thing - "Revivals were common then." Rather sad.
Sure, I know churches still have revivals these days. I'd even bet that somewhere some church has a spring and a fall revival just like they did 100 years ago. But I'd guess there are more SBC churches that do not have a revival in a given year than there are those that do. Someone probably has stats on this. I am ready to be enlightened.
The typical revival is indeed somewhat of a routine church event. Have one. Folks enjoy it. Maybe a few decision. Church and community are rarely if ever changed. Things quickly go back to normal.
I've hosted my share and have enjoyed most of them but not all. There was the evangelist whose detailed instructions about money came early and often. There was the sports evangelist who was nifty in his niche but inadequate with the Gospel. There were several pastors whom I invited, bigger churches and bigger names, whose idea seemed to me to get it over with, pick up the check, and get back home. There was the singer, big name and big bucks, who had big speakers but made a small impression. There have been clowns, athletes, megapastors, micropastors, vocational preaching evangelists, vocational singing evangelists, affinity specialists (fishing, racing, hunting, etc.).
Vocational preaching (or, as they call themselves "God called harvest evangelists" which make me want to look around for sickles and balers) evangelists lament their lack of use. Pastors don't wish to fool with the full time evangelists these days. I cannot say I had great experiences with them myself. Seemed that too many were either in the entertainment business or in the business of business. Guess I had the wrong ones, I will be told.
These days, are we doing more events than formal revivals? If so, I'm not sure we are any better off.
Second Amendment Rallies, you say? Gun giveaways? Seems like the, uh, target market for that is limited to people who look, talk, and think like us...and vote like us. Hardly reaching the world, unless our small world is the only world we have interest in.
We generate baptisms through spontaneous baptism services. When folks show up, grab 'em and dunk 'em and sort it all out later. That's a mild cheap shot. I know of a couple of pastors who do these whom I respect. But it seems to me that this is the commoditization of the sacred ordinance of baptism which cannot be good in the long haul.
Yes...revivals were common then. I would liked to have been to a service where Billy Sunday preached, or Dwight L. Moody. Mordecai Ham would have been interesting.
But that was then and this is now. What comes later, who knows? But past experience and general trends has me a bit wary of what to expect.
Maybe we need the Lord to take back over this business. We've messed it up pretty good.