More than a Meeting
I would first like to say that I am not trying to promote a man or a ministry. I do want to promote the God of the ministry. I am writing this for many who take part in special meetings at their church, but never stop to think about what went on behind the scenes to make it possible. I would like to encourage you to get involved the next time your church has a special meeting. Ask your pastor, "what can I do?"
As pastor of Lifegate Baptist Church in Bellefonte, PA I have been involved in planning many a revival service or missions conference. God has always blessed, but the meetings don't just happen. Much organization goes into these kinds of events. This Saturday, September 11 our church will hold our annual one day revival rally at the Lamar Lighthouse Camp. I'd like to share a little with you about what goes on before the meeting can take place.
My heart has always been drawn toward revival in America. These once a year meetings are for the purpose of bringing churches together of like faith to seek God for revival. Despite popular opinion, America is in desperate need of God to pour out His Spirit on this dry, thirsty land. The first thing that needs to be done for the meeting is to name it appropriately. We chose to call it the Come Back, America! Rally.
That being settled, each year a theme must be chosen.This year's theme is from Joel 2:15, "Call a Solemn Assembly". The theme wasn't just chosen, but was sought through much prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this doesn't apply to your church, but I have noticed how lightly many churches take the work of God. Fellowship is great, but God is still holy and demands worship in reverence. Your church ought to be holy ground. We need to get back to a solemn assembly. The choice for a theme had to be made months ago to give direction to everything else that follows.
Normally we secure the use of the camp about eight months prior to the meeting to assure that the facilities are reserved for our desired date. With the date being finalized we can now relax a little for the next couple of months.
Sometime toward the end of May, we must come up with a tentative schedule of events. This year we begin the day with a short time of fellowship and heart preparation beginning at 10:00am. At 10:30 we will listen to the first message or sermon for the day. Approximately at 11:00-11:15, we will have a short break followed by an old-fashioned prayer meeting at 11:15-12:45. We plan to meet with God in a very solemn way during this hour and a half. 12:45-1:00 represents another break period. Following the break there will be a separate men's and lady's workshop. 2:00 begins a special sacred music concert. At 2:30, we will have the second message. 3:00-3:15 signals another break and the closing service will begin at 3:15-4:15.
You say what about lunch? Joel 2:15 also says to sanctify a fast. In this solemn assembly we will fast until the 4:30 hour when the ladies of our church will serve a meal. Many say, "Well, that doesn't sound like much fun". Seeking God is not always fun. Truly seeking Him can be very painful at times. That's the difference between many churches in America today and God's solemn assembly.
Now that the schedule's been determined, we must find the right people to fill the slots. Preachers and musicians must be contacted and scheduled. The meal menu must be prepared and people are enlisted to serve and donate the food. Greeters and ushers must be assigned and know their places. Our church takes care of many of these needs, but we rely on others as well.
This calls for more preparation. As we confirm the preachers and musicians availability, it is then time to reserve their lodging and food needs. Depending on availability, that is not always easy. Rooms usually need to be booked at least six months in advance or there may be none available.
After all this is done, the final month can be the busiest. Press releases must go to the local newspapers, tv, and radio stations. Fliers are distributed door to door and in the shops. This all requires man hours on someone's part. Untold hours are devoted to this project for at least eight months a year.
It also takes finances to pull everything together. We financially provide the rooms for our preachers and musicians, their food, and other needs they may have. It may be necessary to provide plane tickets. We also pay them as well (although I must say most come expecting nothing--that's the heart of a true servant).
We constantly bathe the event in prayer. I know not of a single movement of God that began without effectual, fervent prayer. I'd ask you, that as September 11 approaches, would you join us in prayer for a tremendous work of God in our midst?
Even though the people of my church are working and doing what needs to be done to prepare for this day, we must realize that it is all of God. He and He alone is the only One that can do the work. As we seek Him on this day, He and He alone will be lifted up and glorified.
Why not get alone with God right now and call your own solemn assembly?