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‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’: Tennessee Church Sees 1,000 Baptisms in Less Than Four Months


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The spark that ignites the flame isn’t always all that bright at first.

That has certainly been true for Robby Gallaty, the senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where 1,048 people have been baptized since Sunday, Dec. 20, following nearly a year of what Gallaty described as “silence and solitude” in his own life.

“Here’s what happened,” the pastor told Faithwire during a recent Zoom conversation, leaning into the camera after taking his glasses off. “I began sitting with the Lord for 10 months. Then, finally, Dec. 15, 2020, I’m on the porch, and I hear as clear as day these words in my head, after a season of silence and solitude: ‘Spontaneous baptism.’”

“I thought, ‘Spontaneous baptism?’” Gallaty said. “First of all, I had never done spontaneous baptism — I’d only been a Christian for 18 years at that time. I’d never seen spontaneous baptism. I’d heard of abuses of spontaneous baptism. But I was obedient.”

The following Sunday, the preacher recalled, was the lowest attended service in his five-year tenure at Long Hollow. The country was, after all, still in the throes of a pandemic and Tennessee was seeing a spike in COVID-19 infections at the time.

Gallaty said it felt as if everything was working against what he was confident God had so clearly instructed him to do.

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“It was like all the water we could put on the offering,” he said, referring to the Old Testament story in 1 Kings 18, when Elijah pours water on a sacrifice in the midst of a drought so that, when it was consumed by fire, it was clear it was by God’s doing alone.

On that Sunday in mid-December, 99 people were baptized.

“I’d never seen anything like this before in my life,” the pastor said, adding he assumed that must have been the end of the “revival” he sought after, until he returned to his porch once again that night.

“The Lord gave me this visual,” he said, recalling sitting outside his house that Sunday evening. “He showed me, ‘These are the heavy raindrops, Robby, before the torrential downpour that’s coming.’”

Gallaty then reached out to his fellow ministry leaders at Long Hollow and, on the following Tuesday, just three days before Christmas, the church hosted a baptism-only service where another 81 people showed up.

It was at that point, the preacher said, that things “got really out of control.” People who had been watching Long Hollow online began traveling to the Hendersonville church and its two satellite campuses, even though Gallaty said he “never encouraged” anyone to board a plane to Tennessee.

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Now, over the course of less than four months, Long Hollow has overseen the baptisms of more than 1,000 people from 15 different states, two of whom came all the way from Maine. Each of them have either been plugged into community groups at Long Hollow or have been encouraged to seek discipleship in their hometowns.

For context, Long Hollow baptized 162 people in 2018 and 222 in 2019.

“It’s a genuine pulling and tugging of the Holy Spirit,” the pastor explained.

Such a spiritual awakening, though, would not have been possible without the seemingly dull spark that eventually lit the flame.

The transformation taking place at Long Hollow is only possible, Gallaty admitted, because he has convicted to deal with the sin in his own life: pride, jealousy, and arrogance he said he wasn’t even aware had taken up residence in his heart.

Left unchecked, though, “jealousy in the pastoral ministry becomes one of the greatest sins we all suffer with.”

“I went to the porch every night to sit with the Lord, thinking that He was going to fix the problems in my church,” the preacher told Faithwire. “I was really frustrated. … I said, ‘Lord, you fix the problems in my staff. I need you to fix the problems in my church. I need you to fix the deacons. I need you to fix the country.’ And here’s what the Lord showed me. About two months in, God showed me, ‘The problem is not with your church. It’s not with your staff. The problem is you. You’re the problem.’”

Later on in the interview, Gallaty spoke directly to his fellow pastors.

“The reason that you’re not seeing a mighty move of God in your church may be because you’re the blood clot,” he said. “And I say that from experience. You may be the problem to why God’s not moving.”

Gallaty, currently preaching a sermon series on the Holy Spirit, said his recent journey with the Lord has also given him a richer and deeper understanding of prayer.

He described prayer as “the wood stacking for the fire that burns on the weekend,” referring to corporate worship on Sundays.

“I’m convinced prayer births revival and revival births prayer,” Gallaty said.

But for so many believers — both new and old — prayer is a difficult thing, a practice that, for various reasons, feels, at times, so mystifying and confounding.

It shouldn’t be that way, though.

“When people say to me, ‘I don’t know how to pray,’ [or], ‘I can’t pray,’ [I tell them], ‘Well, if you know how to talk to people, you know how to talk to God,’” Gallaty said. “Prayer is simply a dialogue. For some of us, the dialogue is one-sided, so most of our prayer time with God is a laundry list of ideas for God to rubber-stamp in order for me to be blessed.”

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“For most of us, our prayer life is a lecture, and that’s why, for you, it has been boring and mundane and routine,” he added.

While there are times in prayer when it is a dialogue — and there are certainly instances when it feels like a monologue on our part — Gallaty said there are also moments of complete silence on both sides.

He equated those instances to when he and his wife, Kandi, take the 20-minute drive into Nashville. Sometimes, the minister said, he and his wife don’t talk at all. Instead, they just enjoy being together.

“There are times when we take that 20-minute drive, and we don’t have to talk,” Gallaty said. “We just sit in the car together, and here’s what it is: we’re just enjoying one another’s presence and just being in her presence is enough for me.”

“We need to get out of this Western reciprocity mindset of, ‘God if I do this, you do this,’” he continued. “That doesn’t work with silence and solitude.”

And it was out of that “silence and solitude,” after all, that came revival at Long Hollow.



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Tré Goins-Phillips is a writer for You can find more of his stories HERE.