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  • Paige Patterson

But They Can’t Preach



The day of local church revivals is like the Coronosaurus, something that belonged to a former era. With the passing of revival services and the diminishing of Bible conferences, the preacher has become preachersaurus and is largely absent in the expansive lines of graduates from our schools. “An impressive contingent,” I observed at a recent graduation ceremony. A veteran of hundreds of preaching events standing nearby responded, “Yes, but they can’t preach their way out of a soggy paper sack.”


My friend was unnecessarily pejorative, but he had noticed a trend that is not encouraging. Great homileticians appear to be a dying breed. Two events in recent weeks animated my own spirit, and I pray they also do so for yours. First, I was a participant in a real revival. Jim Gregory, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Mountain Home, Idaho, led his church for weeks, even months to pursue the slow, prayerful process of revival preparation. Gregory scheduled five preachers to be the evangelists: Dr. Lee Brand, Dr. Scott Colter, Dr. Chuck Kelley, Dr. Mike Spradlin; and by the grace of God extended through Pastor Gregory, the author of this blog was included. Revival began before the visiting preachers arrived and continued after we departed. Thank God for a visionary pastor like Jim Gregory! The age of revival has not perished. Any church that diligently seeks God’s face will experience His hand!


Oh, and did I mention Dr. Scott Colter! At Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary last week, Colter received his PhD in Pastoral Theology. Note the youthful preacher sitting in the cockpit of an F-15 at the air base in Idaho. The visit to the air base was superintended by Lt. Col. Blair Byrem and TSgt. Victor Nostrom, whose lectures gave our hearts comfort in a troubled world and made us proud to be Americans. Dr. Colter may not actually pilot the F-15, but when President Mike Spradlin and I had the honor of bestowing Colter’s doctoral hood at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, nobody was saying, “but he can’t preach.” Both of his revival sermons were spectacular, but his message from Revelation 19 on the return of Christ at the end of the age was not simply notable, it was anointed by God and consequently unforgettable.


Dr. Colter’s message on the return of Christ was an experience in revival like being present in an evangelistic crusade in years gone by. This was not a message in pious speculation or threatening hype but one of convicting exposition of a biblical chapter that most preachers will not touch. This is probably a good thing since most know so little of Bible prophecy. Apparently God’s anointing rested on Scott Colter that night.


The truth is that God is still calling men to the ministry. And more “preachers” are graduating on a regular basis. One should not be surprised that the Savior mentored His disciples, saying, “Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38). The church and the world in which we live have no greater need than for a generation of enthusiastic, godly expositors of the Bible.


Aren’t the fields full of stones? Aren’t they difficult to reach? Isn’t there a frigidity that encompasses the globe and renders preaching difficult and revival next to impossible? Quite to the contrary, in my own feeble attempts to share my faith in love, I have discovered greater openness to the faith than I can recall in my whole lifetime. As desperation deepens in the soul of the social order, so the message of Jesus alone plumbs the depths of the calls for justice and love. A godly, anointed preacher having his heart ablaze with righteousness may be rare at the moment, but he is not absent altogether. And wherever he preaches God’s Word, and the saints pray, searching for the God of Moses, Elijah, and Paul, revival fires will still burn brightly, and the lost will be saved.


“This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).