Recently in preparing for a message, I pulled out an old book long forgotten. It is entitled "Understanding the Anointing" (1983) by Kenneth Hagin Sr.
Early in our experiences in faith we had been fascinated by the "homey" presentation of raw faith and spiritual giftings which he delivered. The part of this book which I found particularly interesting came from a short period of years when Hagin pastored a church. He went on to decades of evangelism, healing by faith and running a Bible school.
Hagin decided to leave the pablum teaching and evangelistic format to evening services designed to appeal to the unchurched with no assurance of a work of Christ in their lives.
The morning service, and there was only one of them per morning, took as much time as the people felt God was portioning. The format was very spontaneous with ample opportunity for personal testimonies and Bible reading (as opposed to sermonizing). Additionally the people would have extensive corporate prayer from the front and from the congregation. This would include stretches of silence and waiting upon the presence of God. This was the sort of phenomenon found in the Welsh revivals and at Azusa Street, Los Angeles. People were ministering unto the Lord and He was pleased. A confidence also developed for intercession on major issues in the community. How much more Christ-like than sermons on achieving personal spiritual success!
The objective was not revival, but rather an honest nurtured communication with God. The prophetic messages and words in tongues with interpretation were enveloped in such an atmosphere of intimacy and holy awe that no one doubted their origin or took them casually. Many people participated. Compare this to our frequent Pentecostal experience where Sister So-and-So in the same pew at the same time in the service gives a word with the same pleading or disappointed tone of voice.
People became excited about the "freshness" of this session for earnest, seeking believers. Stories were told of passers-by who wondered at the silence in a church full of people. Curiosity would draw them in and the Spirit would work His work. Conviction would impact floundering believers, and they would repent openly and receive fresh hope and resolve. This was not a program of man. It was successful on God's terms. People came expecting. People came humbled by the prospect that God would visit them.
Have we lost the patience for such an exercise? Are we fooling ourselves in thinking that our programs, our multiplied programs, come anywhere close?