Q&A: ‘We are primed and ready for the next great revival’

The path there, SBTC president says, is prayer—which will take center stage at annual meeting

Acouple of years ago, Todd Kaunitz—pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention—was weathering a season of personal discouragement when he decided to make prayer a priority at his church. Only God could do what the church experienced as a result. As he prepares to encourage churches across the state to make a stronger commitment to prayer at this year’s annual meeting, Kaunitz spoke with the Texan about how churches lose focus on prayer, and how prayer has not only changed his church, but himself.

In an interview with the Texan almost a year ago, you talked about leading your church to refocus on prayer. What are some ways prayer has specifically changed your church over the past year?

Todd Kaunitz: I would say it has changed everything about our church. We are sensing a deeper unity as a result of pursuing the Lord in prayer. We have seen a greater dependency [on the Lord] by our church members and going to the Lord in prayer with boldness. We’ve seen God answer prayers in ways that have really emboldened our church to be more prayerful. When you call on God’s name and He answers, that answered prayer is a faith-builder. But the biggest thing we have seen through this experience has been seeing how the power of the presence of God shapes us. It takes His Word and embeds it into our heart. You just sense it when you come on our campus. There’s just a different presence that we have that wasn’t here before we began to pray.

Todd Kaunitz, SBTC president, encourages churches across the state to make a stronger commitment to prayer at this year’s annual meeting

"We are primed and ready for the next great revival. Apart from prayer and apart from us coming to the end of ourselves and calling on the name of Lord, we will not see revival and we will not see that awakening."

What are the biggest threats to prayer in the church today? How do churches lose that critical focus?

TK: I think we live in a consumer age of the church, and in the consumer age of the church, we spend more time focusing on the product we’re producing than the presence and the power of God needed to make disciples, to grow men and women spiritually, and to reach more people for Christ. We spend way too much time in our church culture buying and selling methods of doing church, which the early church in Acts didn’t have. They didn’t have the bookstores and all of the commentaries and the church growth strategies. They had the gospel and they had the Holy Spirit and they spent time in prayer. 

I’m a big strategy guy. I think having a strategy and a plan honors the Lord. But I think we can become so strategized and so focused on methods that we have completely just programmed the Holy Spirit out of our churches. What we need to do is get on our face before the Lord and cry out to Him. God did more through a praying church—120 believers in the upper room in the book of Acts accomplished more with no training, no conferences, no methods in just a short amount of time than most churches will ever accomplish in the history of the church, [yet] we have all of these tools and resources. So I think it’s that—becoming too man-dependent and not enough Holy Spirit-dependent.

In consideration of this year’s theme of “Pursuing Presence,” why do you think it is important for churches to attend the annual meeting?

TK: I think first and foremost, the annual meeting is a great opportunity for our network of churches to come together and just be encouraged by fellowship, by preaching, and by rejoicing and celebrating the great things that we’re able to see God do as we partner together cooperatively to advance the gospel. 

Secondly, I truly believe we are at a crisis moment in the history of the church in America. By and large, if you look at the landscape of our culture, the power of the Holy Spirit is no longer resting on many of our churches. I believe we are primed and ready for another Great Awakening. We are primed and ready for the next great revival. Apart from prayer and apart from us coming to the end of ourselves and calling on the name of Lord, we will not see revival and we will not see that awakening. But because of the spiritual condition of our nation and many of our churches, we are primed for it. This annual meeting, we are praying that as we challenge churches and as we come together as a convention for the purpose of prayer and learning what it looks like to pursue the presence of God, that it just might be a catalyst that sparks revival—not just in our convention, but in our entire state and in our nation. 

We need revival. We need the Holy Spirit to be poured out afresh on our churches, because that is what revival is. Revival isn’t just the lost being saved, although revival leads to that. Revival is a reawakening of the body of Christ through a manifestation of the Holy Spirit pouring Himself afresh upon the churches. We can’t manufacture revival. We can’t create it. We can’t program it. We can’t strategize it. But what we can do, we can put ourselves before the Lord in prayer and seek His face for it. And while we can’t manufacture revival, we can miss revival if we don’t seek His face and we don’t call on His name and we don’t pray.

So I would want all pastors in our state to really examine their own ministries and ask themselves a question: if they don’t have a weekly prayer meeting where their people are gathering specifically to call on the name of the Lord and invite the presence of God to move in their church and pray for revival in all the churches, what would keep them from rearranging their schedule? Would they be willing to make adjustments to whatever programming they have going on to make space for the people of God to gather for the sole purpose of calling on the name of the Lord and inviting His presence to move like never before?

That’s really what it means to pursue presence. It is to chase after the presence of God like our life depends upon it, because it does.

Digital Editor
Jayson Larson
Southern Baptist Texan
Most Read

Barber exhorts Southwestern graduates to go to the harvest

FORT WORTH—Get to work in the harvest, Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber challenged the 301 graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College during spring commencement held May 3 on the Fort Worth …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.