Revival Doesn’t Cost—It PAYS!

Jun 29, 2022 | Ministry Matters

by Rev. Larry Leckrone, Evangelist Several years ago, I was visiting a friend in Ohio who owned a local newspaper. On his wall hung a sign which read, “Advertising Doesn’t […]

by Rev. Larry Leckrone, Evangelist

Several years ago, I was visiting a friend in Ohio who owned a local newspaper. On his wall hung a sign which read, “Advertising Doesn’t Cost—It Pays!” Immediately I was enlightened that the message applied to the biblical principle of personal and corporate Christian renewal we have come to know as “revival.” Revival doesn’t cost—it pays!

It remains a fact that church leadership is concerned about the lost, but also the cost. The cost-benefit ratio in all ministries is important but can become a devious trick of the enemy to rob God’s Kingdom of power and glory. Real revival precipitates evangelism and spiritual growth. God’s prompting is always timely, so continued obedience is crucial in the Spirit-filled walk during every season of life. The benefits of real revival are eternal, not numerical.

As evangelists—revivalists—we are often asked what we charge or “what it will take for us to come.” My answer is always the same: “We don’t set a monetary minimum but ask that consideration be given to the fact that we have no other form of income such as a pastor or denominational leader. Itinerant ministry in evangelism is not a mere career but a calling, as delineated in Ephesians 4:11. Our expenses are real, and God is always aware and sufficient to meet them.” I’ve received many letters and emails from pastors and church leaders across the years explaining that cancelations were necessary regarding a future scheduled date for revival or spiritual-life campaign. Often, the concern was financial cost. Here are some of the reasons: re-carpeted the parsonage, remodeled the church, paved the parking lot, paid the denominational budgets, or “planted” a church. When expenses become the criteria for evaluating the need for deepening our faith, revival becomes negotiable.

Other inhibitors to the revival campaign lurk in the minds of leadership. We are busy people. The concept of revival in the church is “old-fashioned” and people won’t come out on weeknights. There’s a failure to realize the real need. Ezra 9:8 states, “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord… that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage” (NKJV).

Don Wellman, pastor of Denver First Church of the Nazarene was invited to speak at an evangelists’ gathering several years ago. His topic was: “Twelve Reasons Why I Did Not Schedule Revivals in Our Church.” I’m sure you can imagine what an anticipated “blessing” this topic was to a large group of evangelists and spouses who realized there was a growing trend to eliminate revival campaigns from the local program but who were giving their lives to the work of revivalism. The air in the room that day was charged with a bit of tension as he proceeded through the reasons for his topic, one by one.

He cited things like “I pastor very busy people.” “Many of our folks drive 30 minutes to come to church.” “Our congregation experiences ongoing revival.” “Many of our families have weeknight activities and commitments.” “Many of our families have small children with early bedtimes.” He continued to give the reasons. Then suddenly, he stopped. He quietly confessed that God had rebuked him for this rationale. We learned that his church had recently had an old-fashioned protracted meeting. You know what I mean by that—the services continued past the scheduled time until they felt God was releasing them back to their schedules. They experienced six weeks of obedience and blessing. The benefits of real revival are eternal, not numerical.

He had prayerfully contacted an evangelist and carefully reserved the week on the calendar. He began to prepare his people for five days of renewal, not knowing what God was about to do. Tears began to lubricate eyes all over the room as the Holy Spirit bore witness with tender hearts. He related personal stories of those whose lives had been changed. He told of marriages healed. He shared how church finances had taken an upswing in recent months. Miracles were happening, and the revival spirit was still alive. Several minutes passed in praise for God’s work being reported. The benefits of real revival are eternal, not numerical.

He suddenly stopped. Quietly, he told us that he would like to close by sharing “Twelve Reasons Why I Will Always Schedule Revivals in Our Church.” We reached again for our pens as we anticipated good notes. He then began to cite the same twelve reasons with which he had begun. It was now obvious that God had a message for us beyond his testimony. The very things which had distracted revival were now directing revival. I’ll paraphrase his reasons. “Busy people need to set some time aside periodically to draw nigh to God to maintain a fervency of spirit.” “God wants his children to give a conscious access to their wills and priorities.” “God’s disciples need to prove through obedience that they hear and heed his commands.” “Children need to know that parents will prioritize their lives to God first, even if it means hurried suppers, driving the distance, staying out late, or canceling other appointments.” “What we do speaks louder than what we say.” The benefits of real revival are eternal, not numerical.

Many people today have only heard about great revivals, so they ask, “Is it worth it?” Kingdom expenditure of time, effort, prayer, and finance becomes an investment, and the added blessing comes with benefits. Yes, it’s worth it! Psalm 103:2 reminds us, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” Answers to prayer bring assurance of God’s provision and our faith is fortified. The “peril of not progressing” is reviewed in Hebrews 6:1–6. “Falling away” has become too common and overlooked as naturally human; however, it is serious to God! Providing a climate for true repentance and “going on to perfection” is a need in our churches. That can be done in Bible Study classes and fellowship groups, but it needs to be intentional. The yielding of wills and the surrendering of lives often happens in the fervency of the revival atmosphere. The old chorus was right when it said, “Let go and let God have His wonderful way. Let go and let God have His way!” Again, read Ezra 9:8–9, especially verse 9: “Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy… to revive us, to repair [us], … and to rebuild [restore] [us]” (emphasis mine). The benefits of real revival are eternal, not numerical.

If the “faithful” aren’t faithful, the church will be robbed of the blessing that could have been. This is a crucial concept! We will reap returns through renewal. It is through the renewing of our minds that we prove “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12: 2). We may not always see the church packed and the altars lined, but God is looking for hungry people and he promises to bless those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The benefits of real revival are eternal, not numerical.

The cultural and moral climate of our world exemplifies the height of spiritual warfare and sin. The gravity of the world is pulling us downward as God’s Word reassures and the Holy Spirit draws us heavenward. These two contrasting gravities are the war for our minds.

The apostle Paul admonishes us to examine ourselves “as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). The apostle Peter says, “The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God…. If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17–18). David’s prayer was personal to say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).

A. W. Tozer cites in his book, Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, “The philosopher Socrates said, ‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’ If a common philosopher could think that, how much more we Christians ought to listen to the Holy Spirit when He says, ‘Examine yourself.’

  • “An unexamined Christian lies like an unattended garden. Let your garden go unattended for a few months, and you will not have roses and tomatoes but weeds.
  • “An unexamined Christian life is like an unkempt house. Lock your house up as tight as you will and leave it long enough, and when you come back you will not believe the dirt that got in from somewhere.
  • “An unexamined Christian is like an untaught child. A child that is not taught will be a little savage. It takes examination, teaching, instruction, discipline, caring, tending, weeding, and cultivating to keep the life right.”

Mr. Tozer was right. That’s why we still need revival, even if it’s not touted as new and innovative. It’s biblically relevant and needed. Baths remain important, even if a child doesn’t want to get in the tub. A good parent or caregiver will emphasize and insist that personal hygiene is imperative to good health, whether popular or not. Scheduled revival in the life of the church is not just to reach sinning people, although our prayer is to reach the lost. It’s not just a society meeting for Christians, although we need to keep growing in our walk of obedience. It’s not just for adults, although everyone needs revelation and teaching as they press on with perseverance in each new season. It’s not just for youth, although their “tuned-in hearts” are crucial while so many voices shout at them through peers, emotions, and hormones. It’s not just for children, although their impressionable brains are like sponges and need the saturation of early training and experience of forgiveness and grace. Revival is for God’s kids of all ages! The benefits of real revival are eternal, not numerical.

About the author

Larry Leckrone of Kurtz, Indiana, is an ordained elder, a commissioned song-evangelist, and one of about 16 tenured evangelists in the Church of the Nazarene. He has devoted his life since graduating from Olivet Nazarene University to itinerant ministry in the field of evangelism. He has traveled full-time, conducting revivals, camp meetings, concerts, family life festivals, and kids’ krusades. He is a gifted preacher, singer, and trumpet player.

Tamla, his wife, is also a musician and contributes greatly to ministry through the keyboards and singing. Her passion is to see people saved and sanctified and grow in grace. Her devotion is evident through her tender spirit and deep surrender. 

Larry attended the Lausanne II World Congress on Evangelism in Manila with world church leaders from 191 nations. He has served on a General Commission to study the role of the evangelist as he relates to the overall mission of the Church today. He currently is a member of the Evangelists Committee that serves with the Revivalism Coordinator as a steering committee and liaison to the General Church. He and Tamla attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. They have ministered all across the United States and Canada as well as Africa and England.