As attendees filled St. Paul Baptist Church on Tuesday night (Sept.18), excitement filled the sanctuary. There were smiles and whispers, all in anticipation of the church's annual fall revival. While many people view revivals as an evangelistic effort to allow individuals to accept Christ, Senior Pastor Dr. Christopher B. Davis had different expectations for this year's two-day event.
"Our faith walk, while a joyous one, can also be a frustrating one at times. So from time to time, like anything else, we need to be refueled, we need to be renewed, we need to be recharged," Davis said.
"That's the whole focus of this revival, to gather the people of God together and encourage them in their faith walk."
This year's keynote speaker was encouragement enough, all on his own. Taking a few days off from his current tour, Dr. Marvin L. Sapp brought a message of transformation and motivation during Tuesday night's sermon. Chosen by the church for his powerful messages and music, Dr. Sapp did nothing short of just that, engaging in an impromptu praise and worship session before he delivered his sermon.
Throughout parts of the evening, he touched on the loss of his late wife, Dr. Miranda Sapp, and the relationship they shared. He encouraged attendees not to give up on love because of a broken heart.
"Why would you deny yourself of something special (love) because you picked a frog? Some of you are holding on to suckers when you need to throw them back. Change your bait and go fishing," Sapp said as the crowd erupted in laughter.
Before delving into the message of being ready for the transformation God has prepared, Dr. Sapp spoke on the importance of social media and how it not only helped him deal with insomnia and grief, but also how it led to a successful self-published book. Posting what he calls "Marvin's Motivational Moments" has been key to his healing process, as well as connecting him with fans.
Dr. Davis noted that the rise of social media in the church is not only critical, it's what Jesus wanted. Referring to the St. Paul Baptist Church Twitter followers and Facebook friends as his "Cyber Sanctuary," Davis integrates social media into the core values of the church. Throughout the revival, attendees could be seen feverishly tapping away on their smart phones during profound moments.
"The reality is that Jesus says to us, 'The works I do you'll do and you'll also do greater works.' The question becomes, if Jesus walked on water, raised the dead, how do you do greater works? The work that he came to do was to seek and to save the lost. But I think the reason he said we would do greater works is because we would have access to social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so forth," Davis said.
"The reality is that if you're not using to connect with people now, you're missing a whole demographic," Davis said.
(St. Paul Baptist Church can be found online on their Facebook Page, as well as www.spbcmemphis.org and Twitter.com/spbcmemphis.)