The “Revival” In Lakeland

Before I begin posting about Exponential…I feel a need to address something I have been questioned about a BUNCH over the last few days.  It is concerning the “revival” that is taking place at a local church in Lakeland.  The questions started last week while I was at Exponential, have continued through dozens of emails a day and now have begun showing up in the comment section of my blog.

I’ll go on record as saying this…I have not been to the church or the “revival” meetings.  I do not feel comfortable in commenting right now on whether it is real or fake.  At some point before the week is out I will attend one of the meetings…take a few days to reflect…discern what I see and experience with Scripture…and then let my congregation know my take on it Sunday.

I am comfortable enough to say that I have some questions as to the validity of it.  There are several reasons for this…the main one of which is that the Assemblies of God in Florida (of which the church in question is a part of) is not endorsing it…Southeastern University is not endorsing it (I respect their leadership very much)…and very few people in Lakeland or Polk County are even aware that it is going on…or are affected by it.  The majority of the attendance has been from people flying in from other parts of the world desperately trying to relive what happened at Brownsville and Toronto.  Those in Lakeland…or from Lakeland…are also skeptical of the church sponsoring the event.  This is not a new church…just a new name.  It is the remnants and leadership of a former hyper-Charismatic mega-church that came crashing down amid scandal.  This will not have been the first time the church or its leaders has used “signs of wonder and healing” to hype itself on the national and international Pentecostal stage.  Most folks in Lakeland are looking at the “revival”…and the hype from the church sponsoring it…as “same song second verse”.

Even though I am Southern Baptist I still believe that the “gifts of Spirit” are alive and well today…in certain situations.  It is certainly not a Biblical issue that is causing me to question the validity of the “revival”…it is the issue of integrity within the church’s leadership that is causing me to question it.  As I stated above…I will attend…and discern…and talk to my church about it.

The “Revival” In Lakeland

19 thoughts on “The “Revival” In Lakeland

  1. Chris,

    Wise words. I for one have some concerns, but I am further removed than you are.

    We continue to pray for Compass point and look forward to all the good things GOD is going to do there.


  2. Chris,

    Just heard some friends talking about this the other day and was wondering your take on it. I appreciate the insight, and look forward to future updates from you.


  3. Hey Chris, I grew up in the A/G, so I know quite a bit about the Assemblies. Out of curiosity, where did you hear that the A/G and Southeastern University were not endorsing it? I just hadn’t heard that… It’s interesting… If Ignited is an A/G church, I’m wondering what would cause them to not endorse it… Any insight?


  4. God showed me this:
    Those who are receiving blessings to go out and preach the gospel will go and do that: go out and preach the gospel.

    I am not Mr. Dogmatic but if there are serious healings going on, then surely they are documenting these miracles.


  5. Jason – The last time this church (under a different name) had “signs and wonders” going on the AG jumped on board…this time they are staying quiet and offering “no comment” answers to local reporters. Several Southeastern students that attend our church have been told by professors and some administrators to steer clear of the “revival”. There has been this quiet tension between the AG and this particular church for a while now…also with Southeastern. There is another AG church in Lakeland that both entities have aligned with publicly…it’s not the church where the “revival” is taking place. For a true understanding one would actually had to have lived in Lakeland for a while. Not trying to dodge you…just the outside perception that the “revival” and church is affecting lives in Lakeland…is just not reality…never has been.


  6. Chris,
    I would appreciate hearing your views after you go in person. I have been watching the webcasts on GodTV and Upstream, but I will not be making any effort to get there myself. Not desiring to pour ice water on anyone’s thing, I will not delineate my reasons why. I did make an effort to get to Brownsville years ago, and can testify that they preached the unmitigated gospel of repentance and faith there. Incidentally, I am A/G and remember our officials backpeddling from their early endorsement of Brownsville when attendees began going back to their home churches and causing trouble.


  7. Jason – Sorry dude…I just clicked the link in your comment and realized who you were. I sent you a private email going into to more detail since you’re a Lakeland pastor.


  8. SLW – Not a big fan of pouring ice water on things either…but this one is in my “back yard”…it affects my sheep. I’m not sure I’ll post again about…but the calls, emails and questions have been off the hook from people around the nation and beyond. It’s not so much the AG back peddling on this that bothers me…it’s the other folks that normally jump on this kind of thing that are back peddling that has been a little skeptical. If you read my blog…you know two things about me:

    a. I’m going to be honest.
    b. I’m not going to go along to get along.

    However, I also want to be careful not to take shots at something God is doing. If it had been any other church in Lakeland I might not be so questioning…


  9. Chris,
    Don’t get me wrong, I track with what your saying, but I would love your eyewitness objectivity, especially since I read your blog alot and know you tell it like it is.


  10. judwe says:

    I went to College and remember the Brownsville Revival. I believe signs and wonders will follow a true believer… but I don’t believe a true believer will follow signs and wonders.

    To quote Boston …. Faith is much “more than a feeling”.

    -Jud Epting


  11. I just want to know when it’ll be safe to go to the North Lakeland Wal-Mart again. 🙂

    In all seriousness, I have had the opportunity to speak with a few SE friends who have had the opportunity to attend some of the meetings, I’ve enjoyed listening to the varying commentaries, which, as you can imagine vary greatly amongst the few that I’ve talked to.

    Given the fact that you know a lot more than do (and probably ever will for that matter) I respect your observation about the AG and SE. While I can’t speak for the AG, I can tell you that at the time I departed from my employment there they began treading water very, very safely, as the whole “trailer park” incident left folks around the country with a VERY bad taste in their mouth for the college, and I’m sure you’re aware of what damages a bad taste can cause. Plus if you’ve noticed the news lately it seems as if, at least local media, has had a hard time attributing SE to anything positive, but has no problem putting all the negative stuff out there about them. I would suffice to say that this is probably a situation where they’ve determined that silence is golden.

    I certainly hope that your attendance allows you to shed some light and wisdom on the whole thing for the CP folks.

    Hope you are well man.


  12. Babylon's Dread says:


    Thanks for the sober posting. My wife is currently at the meeting. She does not think it should qualify as a revival but she said it certainly seems to be an outpouring of healing gifts. As a person who spends a great deal of time with the so-called hyper-charismatics, my take is to just wait and let the thing bear fruit.

    I would recommend that you consider going to one of the daytime meetings at the sponsoring church. My wife was very impressed with his take and presentation of what is happening. She felt he was very genuine and humble and very sober-minded. He referred to another similar event from I think ’93 and was commenting that they learned some from the mistakes made in those days.

    My wife also commented that last night the attendance was markedly lower and she says it is lower still tonight. This perhaps will prove to be a big flash without an ongoing tide. Still she says the healings are remarkable and many are very credible…she also allows that the usual impressionable types are prominent and less credible.

    I advise you to bless what you can and keep your integrity on that which you cannot bless.



  13. Melissa says:

    Thank you for addressing this. I, too have fielded at least two dozen questions since it hit the local news here in Tampa. Sad, though, that “average joe” churches can feed the homeless, help underprivileged children, serve the community in countless ways, and not qualify for one minute, much less four on the evening news!! Perhaps we should bring catchers to our next homeless outreach – JUST KIDDING, FOLKS… please don’t blast me for being mean to charismatics.

    As to it’s “validity” – I think I’m going to have to leave this one to God to deal with if it’s not being done in His name. I’ll stick to praying for those who are involved at every level that they are clearly being led by the Holy Spirit.


  14. MattH says:

    Hi Chris

    I love following your church and your experiences through your blog from over here in the UK. Thanks for the time and effort you put in to help others learn from your successes and mistakes through your honesty in so many things.

    I do wish, however, that you had finished this post though at the end of para 2 when you had said you wouldn’t comment because you hadn’t been to the church yet. I have to say that the rest of the post would make me think twice over your ability to judge what’s happening objectively. I particularly thought it was harsh to bring up past failures when a church may be trying it’s best to move past them.

    Please don’t think I’m trying to judge you – that’s not my heart (please read my first para again to see where I’m coming from) and I’m certainly not in your city or had experience with this church. I’m sorry if I’ve got this wrong, I just think that you started this post so well…



  15. DanH says:

    Hi Chris,
    I appreciate your opinion on the gifts. for me this has addressed an underlying issue altogether and that is the existence of Spiritual Gifts including mass healings. I attend a Bible believing church but they feel some gifts have come to pass and are quick to poo poo anything super sensational that may happen.
    Christianity is about Faith, you have to at times step out of your head and into your heart. Now am I saying that you blindly follow everything with your heart? absolutely not!!

    but a problem I see in some churches who are so skeptical of the powers of the Holy Spirit is they stay in their mind and never take that leap of faith into their heart. I am not just talking about salvation as if you don’t step out of your head and believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins then you are not saved but I am also talking about the gifts God has offered to be a testament and a proof of the Gospel. If you can’t ever step out in faith to accept this then the Holy Spirit generally will not force it on you. And this is a problem I see in the church i attend some of whom I respect their theology and am friends with. I think they are saved by their Faith thus they step out in Faith in believing Jesus died for their sins and of course this step of Faith is far more important than any other step they may take but they refuse to step out in Faith on many other things promised in the Bible.

    What do you call thousands of people gathered to worship God (and from what I’ve observed we are talking the true God)? or thousands of people praying for a sick child?
    Is everyone at the revival a true Christian? of course not I am sure there are those there that claim to be Christians even working on the staff but are not true Christians. However, that is going on in every church building in the world.

    I am not going to judge the revival as I don’t know a whole lot about Todd Bentley other than what I saw him preach while observing the revival and I don’t see heresy there. he was accused of not preach repentance and turning to Jesus and I saw him preach repentance and turning to Jesus.


  16. Bill says:

    Hope when you go to heaven Jesus doesn’t ask you what you did with out pouring of his Spirit
    in the start of the final Harvest in 2008. What will your answer be. I sat on the side lines and
    blew the horn of unbelief???? I see a harvest of souls and many miracles. I choose to believe
    Let Him find me believing and not doubting. All things are possible ONLY BELIEVE!


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