A revival that began in December at a Nashville-area church has now lasted nearly four months, with more than 1,000 baptisms and people coming to Christ long after the Sunday morning service has ended.
The congregation, Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., experienced a movement of God during a baptism service on December 20, when about a dozen people were scheduled to be baptized, but dozens more – for a total of 99 – followed through with baptism that day, according to Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In December, Pastor Robby Gallaty called it a “movement of God that I’ve never experienced.”
Little has changed since December. On April 11, the church passed 1,000 baptisms since December, Baptist Press reported. Gallaty estimates that about 70-75 percent of the baptisms are first-time confessions of faith.
“It’s been completely out of our control and an overwhelming move of God,” Collin Wood, the church’s executive pastor, told BP.
Sunday services that once flowed like clockwork now include a few more interruptions, including baptisms during songs. The altar at the front of the church is always open, and baptisms take place for as long as 45 minutes after the service.
Gallaty credits the revival to God and prayer.
The revival began after Gallaty became introspective following the deaths of two close friends, Jarrid Wilson and Darren Patrick. Each committed suicide.
“Both of those men preached at Long Hollow within six months of their passing,” Gallaty told Baptist Press. “They both sat at my dining room table. It made me realize that the last person to say he’s burning out or that ministry is tough is usually the one burning out. The Lord allowed me to take an introspective look at my own life. I was tired. Tired of trying to keep people happy. Tired of trying to keep them from leaving. I went to my porch to pray for the Lord to fix the problems in our church and our country. God showed me that the problem … was me.”
Gallaty began praying more and listening to God more.
On December 20 – one week after a sparsely attended service – the church held a baptism service, with Gallaty asking others to come forward, BP reported. Dozens did.
The following Tuesday, the church held another baptism service, and 81 people came forward.
Just over 200 were baptized on Easter. Gallaty calls it a “genuine move of God.”
By comparison, the church baptized 162 people in all of 2018 and 222 in 2019.
Revival, he told Baptist Press, can happen at other churches, too.
“I really believe that if all of us, as pastors, begin to press in and seek the Lord in prayer, calling out for God to move in our churches, that’s a prayer He’s going to answer,” Gallaty told Baptist Press. “The greatest hindrance to a move of the Holy Spirit is formality and structure. If God wanted to break into our services today, we’d have no time for Him. [At Long Hollow] we still have a plan, but we’re OK if God interrupts the service.”
Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash/Matt Botsford
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.