Seminars/Talks/Lectures

PRACTICAL LECTURE ON VIGIL AND REVIVAL SERVICES

LECTURE DELIVERED BY VEN. DOKUNMU, OLUWASEUN B. AT THE 2019 JOINT CLERGY SCHOOL OF LAGOS WEST, AWORI AND ILE-OLUJI DIOCESES

TOPIC: PRACTICAL LECTURE ON VIGIL AND REVIVAL SERVICES A. REVIVAL

There is a present need of general awakening among God’s people. The spate of spiritual declension is alarming and frightening. While we acknowledge that there are a few who are on fire for God; we note with great trembling that there are many of the Lord’s people who are in a state of spiritual lethargy and slumber. To them is the letter of Paul addressed "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light (Eph. 5:14-15)." Although there are many evangelistic programmes being held in our society today, crystal lucid is the shallow spiritual depth of so many a Christian.

Why is this so? It is most probably because people today would have the Lord do what they want but they are not ready to live for Him.

What then is the importance of this evangelistic programs such as revivals and vigil in the face of the challenge that has been noted? Do these activities count? To have a proper response to the enquiry, we will need to look at the meaning of these activities and their relevance.

What is revival?
The word revival is a derivative of the word ‘revive’. To revive means "to live," "cause to live,". It is used in in the following sense in the bible: Restoration to life (Gen 45:27; Judg. 15:19, etc.); of rebuilding (Neh. 4:2); of restoration to well-being 138:7; Isa 57:15; Hos 6:2; 14:7; of God’s gracious work for His people Rom 7:9, and 14:9. "to stir or kindle up as a fire," the same word as used in in 2 Tim 1:6. Revival therefore is the act of reviving. The act of bringing back to life.

THINGS WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT REVIVAL
Our homes need revival, our Churches need revival, our marriages need revival. This nation and the world need revival. but no military power can bring revival. No economic upturn brings revival. And no election can bring revival.

Revival is the sovereign work of Almighty God. In Isaiah 64, God’s people had been carried into captivity. His work was in disrepair and His people were dispirited, much like believers today.

The Church has been carried into the captivity of sin, immorality, carnality and worldliness, the flesh and the devil; Christians are discouraged.

Many have no hope for revival – they don’t even believe that revival is possible, revival is not only possible; it is inevitable when God’s people get right with God.

* Revival is when God comes down – Isa. 64:1

* Revival is meeting with Almighty God. Most of us seek God to do something for our Church, our family, our nation. But we are seeking God’s hand and not His face. Our hearts need to yearn for God. We should be saying, “O God, will You come down”.

SIGNS THAT YOU NEED REVIVAL
1. You are entertained by things that once grieved you.
2. You are silent where you once spoke.
3. Your prayer closet has cobwebs and your Bible is dusty – prayer ceases to be a vital part of professing believers.
4. You are more likely to criticize your Pastor than to compliment his message.
5. You excuse sin – Matt. 5:45; Heb. 12:4. You pardon your own sin and shameful acts by saying the Lord understands and remember that we are dust. – A Christian cannot be happy when living in sin.
6. Aspiration for Christlike – Holiness cease to be dominant in your life and thinking.
7. All you are interested in, is money, money and money; you are no longer interested in spiritual things.
8. The need for recreation and entertainment become a large and controlling part of your life.
9. Earnest thought about eternal things ceases to be regular and gripping.
10. The most significant people in your life are those who don’t share your faith. 11. Deep down, you are miserable.

Revival in the Christian parlance refer to two things:

1. The ACTIVITY of the church; (Natural Side of Ministry) and
2. The ACT of God. (The Supernatural Side of Ministry)

This act of God is termed as Revivalism. It is the increased spiritual interest or renewal of the life of a church congregation or society, with a local, national or global effect. This increased spiritual interest or renewal is God’s work who in pouring out His Spirit afresh on the congregation of His interest, with a global effect in view, stir up their spirits to His work and service. Only this can curb the challenge of any local, national or global spiritual lethargy.

We shall tend to give related samples while adhering to the fact that the in interest in this paper is one of the evangelical activities of the church.

Example 1: Building the Ark Genesis 6:14 - 22. When God instructed Noah to build the ark, He might have shown him where the Gopher wood was and all dimensions needed for the details of the ark. However, God did not get Noah the hammer, saw, nails, and other things needed. Noah had to put these things together.

Example 2: The Passover in Egypt. Exodus 11 and 12.
God’s part: I will pass over the land of Egypt and execute judgement (Exodus 12:12)

Man’s Part: The angel of the Lord knows when to pass through the land – it should not be a worry. However, Men would get the lamp (Exodus 12:3), do the killing of the lamb (Exodus 12:6) and the eating (Exodus 12:7). Do not expect the angel of the Lord to kill the lamb, do not expect the angel of the Lord to sprinkle the blood on the door posts. Men had to do these.

Example 3: Moses Exodus 17:9 -12 Israel Fighting Amalek
Spiritual Side – Moses raised up the rod of God and Israel prevailed
Natural Side – Moses was naturally assisted by Aaron and Hor and sat on a stone

Example 4: Healing/Health

Spiritual Side of healing- Word of God, Holy Communion, Anointing Oil, Prayer of faith, etc.
Natural Side of Healing – Medical CheckUp, Know when to Rest , exercise, Good environment, Good Food- Knowing when to eat, what to eat, quality of food and the quantity of food makes you healthy. Know your body system and stick to what works best for you.

Example 5: Finances/Money
Spiritual Side of Money - Giving, Tithes, First Fruit, Offering, Contentment, etc.
Natural Side of Money – Savings, Investment, T-Bills, Fixed Deposit, properties, etc.

Example 6: Jesus Raising Up Lazarus from the dead John 11
Spiritual Side He raised up Lazarus by prayer…Lazarus come forth
Natural Side He told men to roll away the stone and also remove the cloth on Lazarus

Example 7: Jesus Feeding the Multitudes with two Fishes and 5 loaves of Bread
Spiritual Side He prayed and multiplied the food
Natural Side He told to crowd to seat in groups, He told His disciples to gather the leftovers.

Example 8: Daniel Understanding
Spiritual Side Daniel 1:17 God gave them knowledge and skills in all literature and wisdom. He had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Natural Side Daniel 9:2 Daniel understood by books in addition to having revelations.

Example 9: Praying and Strategic thinking
Spiritual Side Good to have a prayer vigil, Prayer Team, etc.
Natural Side Balance it with Thinking Vigil, Thinking Team, build options, Borrow ideas from other parishes, etc.

Example 10: Holy Communion Service.
Spiritual Side let the Angels do their work by turning the elements natural (Bread and Wine) into the spiritual (body and blood) of Christ
Natural Side Let the Altar Servers arrange the elements on the altar tables. Angels will not come and arrange the bread and wine. Men can handle that
Example 11: Elijah calling down fire
Natural Side He repaired the broken altar 1 Kings 18:30-32
Spiritual Side He prayed and fire came down I Kings 18:36-38

The ACTIVITY of the church; (Natural Side of Ministry)
These are programmes organized by a church basically to stir up their up the gifts of God already bestowed upon them. It is expected to be a gathering of likeminded people who come to seek God for renewal of strength, fresh touch of heaven and empowerment to carry on in the work of the Lord. These programs are also meant to tackle spiritual challenges of the local church and help them receive strength to go about their daily duties, honouring God in all they do.

A Team, Committee or Committees
These evangelistic revival programmes are held mostly within the church sanctuary or precinct. However, they can also come in form of out-door activity. This type is undertaken not only as means of spiritual revival for the local church members but also to evangelize the community of interest. Like Billy Graham said… if the revival Programme is within or in-door, the following may be done for effective and successful spiritual renewal: A team may be set up to plan for the programme. They are to get date(s), topic(S) and even the resource person(s) who will handle the preaching, if the vicar or priest in charge will not be doing this. The outcome of the team’s plan should be submitted to the vicar or pastor for final ratification. Below is a template for an indoor revival activity:

Proposed Sample 1:
1. Light Music from technical department (using disc, CDs… this may help create spiritual appetite for participants)
2. Opening Prayer (5.00pm -5.10pm)
3. Praise and Worship (5.10pm -5.30pm)
4. Prayer - (5.30pm -5.40pm)
5. Special Number (5.00pm – 5.50pm) by Church Choir, Mass Choir or Church Band
6. Introduction of Guest Minister (5.50pm-5.55pm)
7. Ministration (5.55 – 6.55)
8. Praise and worship (6.55-7.05) – this is for offering.
9. Announcement/ Benediction

Proposed Sample 2:
1. Opening Prayer (5.00pm -5.10pm)
2. Praise and Worship (5.10pm -5.30pm)
3. Prayer - (5.30pm -5.40pm)
4. Playlet (5.00pm – 5.50pm) by Drama Group
5. Introduction of Guest Minister (5.50pm-5.55pm)
6. Ministration (5.55 – 6.55)
7. Praise and worship (6.55-7.05) – this is for offering.
8. Announcement/ Benediction

Proposed Sample 3:
1. Opening Prayer (5.00pm -5.10pm)
2. Praise and Worship (5.10pm -5.30pm)
3. Prayer - (5.30pm -5.40pm)
4. Testimony (5.00pm – 5.50pm) by Church Choir, Mass Choir or Church Band
5. Introduction of Guest Minister (5.50pm-5.55pm)
6. Ministration (5.55 – 6.55)
7. Praise and worship (6.55-7.05) – this is for offering.
8. Announcement/ Benediction

Out-door Revival
The out-door evangelical revival programme needs more planning that that on the in-door. A planning committee needs to be set up. This committee may further be subdivided into smaller committees, such as health department, information and Technology department who will handle the public address system, publicity committee, security committee, ushering department, counselling department, follow up unit and the like. The programme planning committee may find this template helpful:

1. Medical checkup/welfares (4.00-4.55)
2. Opening Prayer (5.00pm -5.10pm)
3. Praise and Worship (5.10pm -5.30pm)
4. Bible Reading (5.30pm -5.40pm)
5. Prayer - (5.00pm – 5.50pm)
6. Special Number (5.50pm-6.00pm) (by Church Choir, Mass Choir or Church Band
7. Introduction of Guest Minister (6.00 -6.05)
8. Ministration ( 6.05 -7.05)
9. Praise and worship (7.05 – 7.15) – this is for offering.
10. Announcement/ Benediction

The committee may need to tackle the following questions
Where will the programme be held? The Is a very germane question as it will assist in knowing the strategy to employ. Is it the church precinct (if it has one)? Will it be a nearby or a distant community? If the programme is to b held in a community not very famialr to the church members, there is need to ascertain the security condition of the place. It must be noted that due to the volatile environment Nigeria is becoming; the insecurity situation of the country is skyrocketing, hence, a church that must hold out-door revival programme must inform and involve the security outfit of the locality. The police and other national or state approved security personnel should of necessity be coopted.

The structure of the community needs to be considered. Does it have community heads or chiefs, such as baale or kabiesi. Due honour needs to be accorded them. This will help a long way to to give easy access to more than needed assistance, in terms of security, space and even information dissemination. Is it a rural or urban Centre? Who also are the people living in the area? What kind of living condition are they in? As noted earlier, the revival programme has dual intention: the spiritual strengthen of the local church member and out-reach in intent. Are the people in the environment poor, middle class or upper-class? This will help determine the approach and the welfare committee here function effectively

Aside this, the rules of the community or state in relation to the use of public places should be given adequate consideration. Are there prohibitions and all sort? The church is not an Organisation that is lawless.

When will it be held?
This has to do with time and season (during hot, dry, wet or cold). The knowledge of this will help to determine the necessary logistic that will make the location al little comfortable for the meeting. It will also help the Publicity Committee to be able to give a good coverage of the area in information dissemination. The duration of this evangelistic revival programmes are always at the discretion of the vicar and the planning committee. If it will be over a period of days e.g. 7 days, 14 days, 21 days, then there need to be a programme planning committee who would need to plan for each day bringing in varieties that do not contravene the scripture. For longer days, a general theme with different subtopics to be handled by different preachers need to be considered.

Resource Person and Remuneration
The committee may suggest the resource person(s) but vicar will be the one to determine who the preacher(s) should be. It is always good to have a charismatic preacher handle revival programme.

The committee needs to put into consideration right remuneration for the invited guest(s). It is scriptural give to those who minister to us. In doing so, distance should be considered. It would be very absurd to invite a guest minister and not give him a purse.

Budgeting and Fund Raising
Budgeting is key in planning for any revival programme. Things to budget for may include the following among others: transportation of musical instruments to the site, renting of PAS (Public Address System), procurement of first aid materials, incentives for the security agents to be engaged, remuneration for the invited guest(s).

It must be noted however, that such evangelistic revival programme with outreach touch should not be intended for fund raising. This aspect is becoming a menace today and many of the people of the world are mocking the Lord’s people over this. There are some who would not want to attend programme of such intensity for the fear of what they see as the “commercial aspect”. However, well to do members of the local church may be implored and encouraged to give toward the programme.

The prayer Unit (Spiritual Side) and the follow up unit (Natural Side)
Prayers is key in planning. This is the powerline and life of the church. It is only in the place of prayer that we can secure open heaven for the evangelistic revival programme to have meaningful spiritual effect. Therefore, there should be a prayer group whose job basically is to seek the face of the Lord for the revival programme.

Closely linked to the prayer unit is the follow-up unit. The outcome of a successful revival outing with a touch of outreach is winning of nonmembers to the church. where this has been graciously granted, visitation and follow-up becomes very necessary. This will help to solidify or establish the faith of the new convert(s).

B. VIGIL
There are many definitions that have been advanced for vigil. But the one that best sooth our course is that it a devotional watching; waking for prayer, or other religious activities. The scripture is full of different happenings that reveal the importance of keeping night watch. Like we noted in evangelical revival programmes, vigils are meant to also strengthen the believer in his/her walk with the lord. Vigil seem to give a better opportunity to achieve this aim because it presents a good atmosphere for fellowship with the Lord. No distraction of limitation of time as may be experienced in revival programmes. Vigils are very good grounds to engage in spiritual warfare.

Biblical References to Vigil
From Genesis to Revelation, vigil has played a huge role in people obtaining there blessings and as well conquering spiritual battles. The experience of Jacob at Penuel in Gen 3…, the killing of the first born of the Egyptians and the exodus of the children of Israel from the land of bondage were are result of vigil. The destruction of the city of Ai by Joshua and his men were undertaken in the night hours. Gideon did not overcome his enemies by sword but by the activity of the night. There have been cities and land conquered during the night. It was in the night that ambushes were laid against them (Isaiah 15).
The news of the birth of Jesus was first declared to the shepherd who were watching over their flock by night. The Lord Jesus himself consistently watched at night. Early hours of the day begin at 1.00 am. And that is when the bible declares that our Lord goes out.

If there is going to be any meaningful contact with the Lord, it had to be at the night hour.

Vigils can be kept personally or corporately.
There are those who do personal vigil almost every day. Cooperate vigils may be held at homes and as well in the churches at intervals, periodically, or over a set number of days e.g. three days, 7 days, 21 days, 40 days…

Planning for Vigils
For cooperate vigil to be meaningful, certain things must be put in place. Like enumerated earlier while dealing with ‘Revival’, a committee may also be set up to plan for church vigils. The job of the committee in conjunction with the priest will be to have the aims and purpose for the vigil. Specific issues may be dealt with at vigil. This calls for selection of topics of themes. This will be the job of the committee. And if the vigil is to be held for a long period of time, there is expected to be proper planning. This sort of vigils may attract guest ministers. They must be treated as explained earlier. In choosing inviting a guest minister, certain criteria must be observed. The minister must be evangelistic and a praying person. His life must also command God’s blessing. There are times wherein the church as charismatic leaders or elders, they may be made use of. If any senior clergy has a chromatic assistant, let him saddle him with the responsibility.

Drawing the programme
There are no particular ways to plan the programme (draw the programme). As Anglicans, we know that such programmes are extempore. However, an order should be followed. This will bring order and decency.

Proposed Simple one:
1. Opening prayer 11.00-11:10
2. Praise and worship 11:10 – 11:30p
3. Prayer 1 11:30-11:50 (prayer of thanksgiving and confession)
4. Possessing the Night 11:50-12:05
5. Praise God it is a new day 12:05-12:20
6. Message and prayer – 12:20-1:30
7. Special Number/Testimony 1:30 – 1:50
8. Prayer 2 – 1:50 - 2:20 (prayer for the church, diocese, and the ministers)
9. Prayer 3 – 2:20 - 2:40 (prayer for the nation, state, LGA)
10. Prayer 4 – 2:40 – 2:50 (Prayers for the needy, the destitute, the afflicated…)
11. Alone with God 2:50- 3:00
12. Offering (if need be)
13. Announcement/Benediction

Proposed Simple Two:
1. Opening prayer 11.00-11:10
2. Praise and worship 11:10 – 11:30
3. Prayer 1 11:30-11:50 (prayer of thanksgiving and confession)
4. Possessing the Night 11:50-12:05
5. Praise God it is a new day 12:05-12:20
6. Message and prayer – 12:20-1:30
7. Tea break 1:30 – 1:50
8. Special Number/Testimony 1:50-2:00
9. Prayer 2 – 2:00 - 2:20 (prayer for the church, diocese, and the ministers)
10. Prayer 3 – 2:20 - 2:40 (prayer for the nation, state, LGA)
11. Prayer 4 – 2:40 – 2:50 (Prayers for the needy, the destitute, the afflicated…)
12. Alone with God 2:50- 3:00
13. Offering (if need be)
14. Announcement/Benediction
Proposed Simple Three:
1. Opening prayer 11.00-11:10
2. Praise and worship 11:10 – 11:30
3. Prayer 1 11:30 - 11:50 (prayer of thanksgiving and confession)
4. Possessing the Night 11:50-12:05
5. Praise God it is a new day 12:05-12:20
6. Message and prayer – 12:20-1:30
7. Tea break 1:30 – 1:50
8. Playlet 1:50-2:00 by drama Group
9. Prayer 2 – 2:00 - 2:20 (prayer for the church, diocese, and the ministers)
10. Prayer 3 – 2:20 - 2:40 (prayer for the nation, state, LGA)
11. Prayer 4 – 2:40 – 2:50 (Prayers for the needy, the destitute, the afflicated…)
12. Alone with God 2:50- 3:00
13. Offering (if need be)
14. Announcement/Benediction

Note that the programmes are planed based on what the reason for the vigil.
A church is considered dead or inactive if it fails to engage these evangelical tools-revivals and vigils. A congregation on its spiritual toes cannot do without the duo. And any clergyman who would secure spiritual victory and security for his members must of necessity engage these tools.

To answer the question posed at the very beginning of this paper as to the relevance of these evangelistic programmes in the face of the present prevalent spiritual declension, I will say, revivals and vigils serve as a preparation of Revivalism. History has shown that some of the major move of God has been made possible via the gathering of brethren in the place of prayer. We should not also forget that it was while the disciples were gathered with one accord in the upper room that the Holy Spirit came, filled and sat on each of them as a cloven tongue of fire and a major revival that gave birth to the present church broke out. It is important for us to know that God cherishes our coming together for this end. The bible say that we should not neglect the gathering of the brethren.

Let me conclude in the words of A. L Walker

In view of the frequent modern use of "revive" and "revival," it is worthy of notice that it is to Timothy himself the exhortation is addressed (2 Tim 1:6). We too often merely pray for "revivals," forgetting that it is for us to "stir into flame" the gift of the Spirit which we have already received of God. It is ours from Him, but we let it lie dormant, as a slumbering ember merely.

Through vigils and evangelical revivals, we can stir up and fan to flame the gift of the Spirit which we have already received from the Lord.

Venerable O B DOKUNMU
Archdeacon of Isolo Archdeaconry.
July, 2019

 

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