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A revival meeting is a series of Christian religious services held in order to inspire active members of a church body and to love people into the kingdom of God. These meetings are often conducted by members of American Protestant churches and those educated or influenced by them; missionary works of such churches often conduct revivals in Africa and India. Revival is a loose term to describe when Holy Spirit pours out His spirit on people.
Generally speaking, a revival meeting consists of several consecutive nights of services conducted at the same time and location each night, most often the building belonging to the sponsoring congregation but sometimes a rented secular assembly hall, for more adequate space or to impact an otherwise unreached area or people group. Tents were very frequently employed in this effort in the recent past, and occasionally still are, but less so due to the difficulties in heating and cooling them and otherwise making them comfortable, an increasing consideration with modern audiences.
The focus of revival meetings is God, and what He is doing. Ministers of the gospel who preach in revival meetings often focus on getting people saved. They proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ and what He has done and then call for the unsaved and backslidden Christians to make a heart commitment to Jesus. But this is just the beginning. When Christians proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, signs, wonders, and miracles often break out. When Holy Spirit moves in a meeting, people get healed from sickness and disease. Many also get delivered from demons. Angels come to these meetings and minister to the people as well, removing the demonic crap and imparting gifts from God.
The length of such meetings varies. Until the last quarter-century they were frequently a week or more in duration, especially in the Southern United States. Currently three or four days is more typical, although occasionally some are still held, especially in Pentecostal groups, "according to Holy Spirit time", that is until the visible results seem to slow or stop and attendance dwindles. The only reason revival meetings slow down and stop is because God is moving in a different way and the leadership doesn't want to sacrifice their agenda to follow the direction of the Holy Ghost, or to take a chance at losing tithers.
Most groups holding revival meetings tend to be of a conservative or fundamentalist nature, although the phenomenon is far from unheard of in Mainline groups, which used to conduct them with a far greater frequency and fervor in some instances than is now fashionable. Similar events may be referred to as "crusades", especially when a particularly noted speaker like Billy Graham or Oral Roberts is involved.
In the Churches of Christ such events are almost invariably referred to as gospel meetings rather than revival meetings. This group is one of the most likely to conduct such events in the 21st century. For the most part, aside from the large, spectacular "crusades", most American Protestant groups other than Baptists and Pentecostals have become less active in holding revival meetings in recent years, but some of the vacuum has been filled by similar activities hosted by nondenominational community churches, most of which are conservative in theology. Many revivals are attempts to catch much of the flavor and fervor of the camp meeting without exposing their participants to the physical rigors of such an experience.
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This movement has been portrayed by director Richard Brooks in his 1960 film Elmer Gantry with Burt Lancaster (who received the Academy Award for this film) and Jean Simmons, adapted from Sinclair Lewis' eponymous novel.
There is a revival scene in the 1997 film The Apostle, starring Robert Duvall. Duvall's portrayal of an evangelical minister earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination.
The Academy Award winning documentary Marjoe reviews the career of child-evangelist Marjoe Gortner, giving a behind-the-scenes look at revivals he promoted as an adult. The film was never distributed in the Bible Belt, as Gortner exposed the money-making tricks charlatan evangelists engaged in.
The movie Leap of Faith, starring Steve Martin, depicts a fake faith healer, his fraudulent traveling revival show, and the consequences when he accomplishes a genuine miracle.
Borat Sagdiyev visited a revival meeting in his feature film.
A tent revival meeting was attended in Blues Brothers 2000.
Neil Diamond's Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show depicts a revival meeting.