By Helen Gibson
During their 25-day revival, Langston Baptist Church saw more than 1,500 professions of faith, leading to nearly 100 baptisms in their own church and many others in churches across the community.
Norman Abernathy, the church’s interim youth pastor, and Tyler Blue, the evangelist preaching at the revival, said they both learned a lot during the services.
Here is some of their best advice for hosting an impactful ministry event in your own community.
1. Get help.
Abernathy said the woman who gave him Tyler Blue’s name and suggested they have Blue preach the revival was worried at first. She thought Abernathy might not want an outside evangelist coming in to preach. But Abernathy said that’s not the kind of thing a pastor should be concerned about.
“You cannot have pastoral jealousy,” Abernathy said.
Instead, he simply described his role in Langston Baptist’s revival as “a small piece of a puzzle that’s not even completed yet.”
Blue said the revival’s success wouldn’t have been possible without support from other churches and denominations.
“We can come together for the main purpose, and that is to see people reach the gospel and to see people say ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ,” Blue said. “And I believe that’s the biggest difference that took place at Langston.”
2. Be flexible and pay attention
Abernathy initially planned a four-day revival because he said that seems to be the norm for most churches these days. He certainly never expected the revival to last for a full 25 days, he said.
But every few days, he and Blue said they felt God calling them to continue the revival.
Leaders at Langston Baptist Church even ended up changing other church plans to be able to focus more completely on the revival. They’d prepared to perform a Ten Commandments production, and it was scheduled for one of the weekends the revival was in full force. They ended up canceling all but one show, so the revival could continue.
Blue said being flexible and willing to listen for God’s direction and guidance taught him a lot about patience and faith.
“[God] showed me that I’ve got to be very patient and wait for Him to give us the direction on which way to go,” Blue said.
3. Involve the youth of your church.
Abernathy, who said he’s had a heart for youth ministry for a long time, called this event a “youth-led, youth-oriented revival,” and he said that factor alone made it unique.
“It was a novel, unheard-of thing in this area ever to have a youth-led revival,” Abernathy said.
Blue thinks this is part of what made the revival so successful.
“Langston’s youth had been praying over every single chair in their building for weeks and months before that revival,” Blue said.
Blue also said once the revival got under way, it was the youth’s excitement that caused it to grow.
“What I believe took place was the young people saw what God was doing in their friends, and they all went back to their schools and began to tell people at their schools what was going on, and talk about how people were getting saved,” Blue said. “And they were getting excited.”
And while the revival was youth-oriented, Abernathy said it was impactful for all ages.
4. Be prepared.
“If you’re going to plan an event like this—a revival or anything like that—you need to prepare for the outstanding to happen,” Abernathy said with a chuckle.
Abernathy wasn’t prepared for such a large turnout to Langston Baptist’s revival, and he ended up having to train volunteer counselors to speak with those who responded at the revival on the fly.
Now, Abernathy is planning to train a group of counselors well in advance, so they’re prepared for the next revival or ministry event the church hosts. And he recommends other churches do the same.
“It’s good to train them now when you’re not doing anything, so when you are, you already have them trained and have them ready to go, so if it gets big, you can meet the need,” Abernathy said.
HELEN GIBSON (@_HelenGibson_) is a freelance writer in Cadiz, Kentucky.