Pastor Keffer at FBC Nashville sees revival as a church necessity


NASHVILLE. Ga. — Pastor Paul Keffer of First Baptist Church of Nashville says he believes revival is critical in the life of a church. “I realize that there are a lot of churches that no longer make revival part of their church schedule,” he explains, “but I believe there are times when we need renewal and refreshing.”

Revival is necessary, Keffer emphasizes, on multiple levels. “Our churches need revival, our nation needs revival. If we're going to lead our nation back to God,” he adds, “then believers have to humble themselves, fall on their knees, and call on God in prayer.”

That belief in the necessity of revival is what led Keffer and FBC Nashville to hold a four-day event in late April, featuring preaching by Scott Newton Smith and music by the Down East Boys. Keffer says, “Over the past few years, we have had our revival in the fall, but we wanted to approach this revival a little bit differently and schedule it for a spring timeframe.”

The church’s preparation for the revival event began long before the date itself, with prayer. Members of the congregation came forward and knelt at the altar, in what Keffer describes as a time of “bathing in prayer.”

Smith, a revivalist of three decades who also works with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, described it as an “amazing week.” He says, “The church was responsive and excited about the meeting. They showed up and expressed their heart for and hunger for the Word. They were exceptionally encouraging to me personally, namely for preaching the Word of God as it is, without compromise.” In fact, he noted that attendance for the Wednesday service was almost as great as Sunday morning.

In particular, Smith noted the participation and enthusiasm of students. “The interesting thing about the students is that not only were most of them in attendance each night of the revival, but they sat down front, filling the first four rows of one side, AND they brought unchurched friends,” Smith says. “We literally had teenage guests every service.”

Smith credits Keffer for sowing the seeds of revival among the youth of the church. Keffer first arrived at First Baptist Nashville as an associate and youth pastor, before being named senior pastor last June. Keffer continues to work with the youth, and Smith says he is “much loved by the church.”

Under Keffer’s stewardship, First Baptist Nashville is seeing growth across all age groups, and young families are joining the church. “Paul,” Smith says, “has a humble spirit and a keen awareness of his dependence on God.”

Before coming to FBC Nashville, Keffer spent over a quarter of a century traveling in music evangelism with his parents. Even as a married man, Keffer and his wife Jessica raised their kids on the road until only a few years ago. Eventually, they settled in Nashville and at the church, where they had deep roots dating back to their grandparents in that church.

Keffer feels that God answered the church’s prayers prior to the revival. “There were people at the altars at each of these services,” he says, “We had several raise their hand, indicating they had prayed to receive Christ.”

Smith says, "Any responses we saw speaks to the power of the Word and the Spirit. I refuse to give a 'just pray this prayer' invitation. It's about repentance, faith and surrendering to follow Jesus. This makes decisions that we see a true work of the Lord in hearts."

Keffer describes one young boy “who walked the aisle and made public his profession of faith. There were a number of our folks who made other decisions throughout the week.”

“A spark was ignited during this meeting”, Keffer says.