by Barry Chant
1958, the Christian Revival Crusade (then known as the Commonwealth
Revival Crusade) was being led in Melbourne by Lloyd Longfield and in
Geelong, Noel Hollins. Longfield was of medium build, with a smooth and
pleasant speaking voice, and a persuasive manner. He had been a
travelling salesman, a staff sergeant in the A.I.F. for six years during
the Second World War and a delicatessen proprietor for three years.
His war experience in the Middle East gave him an interest in Bible
Prophecy and he was thus an early convert of the C.R.C. in Melbourne,
where Bible prophecy was being strongly taught. He had been quickly
recognised as a man of great promise, and had been used with some
effectiveness in both preaching and healing ministry. In 1952, he had
become pastor of the assembly.
Numbers began to grow under his
positive preaching. His manner was such that even those who disagreed
with him found him to be an interesting — even entertaining — speaker.
There seemed to be an underlying sense of the humorous when he spoke —
the twinkle in his eye and the inflection of his voice suggesting that
there was another side to what he said, which he was not willing to
Noel Hollins was a tall young man, well over six
feet. His preaching voice was strong and his methods direct. He spoke
simply and to the point, and with a seriousness of purpose that
reflected an intensity of character. At his conversion, he had
abandoned a university course, and devoted his future entirely to the
Lord's work. A bachelor for many years, he was regarded as a prime goal
by many of the female members! Neither Longfield nor Hollins had any
previous experience of Pentecostalism, or of serious Christianity of any
kind, for that matter. Their Christian experience began with their
conversion; they had never known any committed Christians beyond the
Crusade. This fact explains in a small way some of the subsequent
From about 1955 onwards, tensions began to develop between
assemblies in Melbourne and Geelong and Adelaide. Initially, the
rivalry was friendly. Attendance figures were compared, and both
Adelaide and Geelong, for example, were running about level with
congregations numbering about 300. Geelong opened its own hall in
December, 1957 — a converted nissan hut of unusual but attractive
design. The next year, 1958, Adelaide purchased its first hall.
Longfield meanwhile, had purchased a tent and conducted evangelistic
campaigns in Geelong and Brisbane.
Such mutual challenging was
healthy. But it also opened the doors for criticism. Longfield visited
Adelaide, and was rather distressed by what he regarded as extreme
methods of exorcism. He also felt that the South Australian brethren
were not firm enough in their understanding and proclamation of the
baptism in the Spirit. So he and Hollins drew up what they claimed was a
statement of faith for the Victorian assemblies in which they declared
that salvation was the result of repentance and faith, but that if a
believer then refused to be baptised either in water or the Spirit, he
would forfeit that salvation. Similarly, a breaking of fellowship with
the assembly could result in forfeited salvation.
When the rest of
the Crusade pastors got together to draw up a constitution, Longfield
and Hollins refused to co-operate in such a move — to do so would be to
abandon their "liberty" and autonomy as local churches.
there was some dissension in Melbourne because Longfield gave little
scope for his officers to share in the financial management of the
work. He believed that as pastor he had the right to make decisions
about handling of funds without having to consult others. Although he
did appoint a business council he still made independent decisions —
decisions which many found unacceptable.
At this stage, the
Crusade work in Australia was relatively small. With three dominant
personalities such as Longfield, Hollins and Harris, it was inevitable
that unless tolerance was practised, clashes would occur. Harris and
Adelaide business man Don Barrett journeyed to Victoria to try to
resolve things, but found that there was nothing that could be done, and
so when in November 1958, the rest of the C.R.C. assemblies drew up a
constitution, the two Victorian works disassociated themselves and
became the Melbourne Revival Centre, and the Geelong Revival Centre,
respectively. Some other assemblies joined with them — mainly ones like
Canberra (A.C.T.) and Port Lincoln (S.A.) which had been started as a
direct outreach of the Melbourne and Geelong works by the roaming
preacher named Len Day — a happy-go-lucky fellow who flew a small plane
all over the country and treated all he met as long-lost friends.
remained loyal to the original Crusade movement, with small groups in
Geelong and Melbourne refusing to follow their pastors' lead, and
maintaining affiliation with the Crusade.
Since that time, the
doctrinal position of the Revival Centres has become quite clear.
Without any compromise they openly declare that baptism in water and in
the Holy Spirit are necessary for salvation. Longfield once said.
"Jesus is coming again for those who pray in the Spirit, who are sealed
by the Spirit." And again, "If they received the Spirit they haven't any
life in them and are dead in trespasses and sins".
In a leaflet
entitled "What must I do to be saved?" Longfield writes: "If we really
believe Him, we obey Him. We believe He is alive and that He has given
to us the path of salvation. We accept gladly the pattern of
repentance, of water baptism and the promised power of the Holy Spirit.
Our obedience indicates that we 'rely' on Him, we 'trust' Him to save
us from sin and to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Such believing will
bring the power of God into our lives."
The wording of this
passage is careful. But the meaning is clear. Without baptism by
immersion or the baptism in the Spirit, there is no real believing, and
hence, no real salvation. The following quotation makes the matter
"Any Greek concordance will assure us
that to believe (pisteuo) is to 'adhere to,' 'trust' or 'rely on.' In
short, to believe embraces placing oneself in the hands of God. To
believe the Gospel is to accept the fact that it will be by obeying the
commands we are now considering that our salvation will be effected ..."
then is the distinguishing mark between the Revival Centres and most
other Pentecostal groups in Australia. Whereas the others teach both
baptism in water and the baptism in the Spirit, they still agree that
there is only one absolute essential for salvation, and that is trust in
Jesus Christ himself alone for righteousness and freedom from sin. The
doctrines which separate these groups are important to them, but they
have never been made pre-requisites for salvation. Thus, on occasion,
almost every Pentecostal church in this country has co-operated with
churches of another Pentecostal denomination in some kind of joint
venture. In some states, all Pentecostal pastors meet regularly for
fellowship together. But the Revival Centres will never be — indeed,
can never be — a part of this, for their whole concept of redemption
sets them apart.
The Revival Centre doctrine of salvation results
in other kinds of exclusivism. Non-Pentecostal churches are fiercely
criticised. So Longfield writes:
"What Gospel? A Gospel that
will bring people to believe, to be baptised, to speak in tongues, to
work miracles? Or another Gospel? A Gospel described in both Old and
New Testaments as one of Holy Ghost fire and power, or the insipid
apology for a so-called Gospel the professing church has foisted on the
In his preaching, he often challenges the
congregation to prove that God is real. What happens in the churches
they come from? What evidence do they have that God is alive? In the
Revival Crusade there is evidence of the reality of God. People are
healed and baptised in the Spirit. Signs indicate God's power.
one occasion he challenged:
"I meet a lot of people
who say they are saved but who have never had a phenomenal experience.
The gospel should startle. Tell me why people jump out of the baptistry
here like a startled antelope shouting, 'Who electrified the water?'"
and his fellow-pastors find it necessary also to condemn the
Pentecostal churches for compromise. When Pentecostals associate with
functions like the Billy Graham Crusades, they are supporting a
watered-down form of the Gospel.
Pentecostals, on the other hand,
feel that such criticism falls strangely from men who use a hymn-book in
which there are more hymns by non-Pentecostals than anyone else! And
who use translations of the Bible (the Amplified Bible is popular) which
were produced by (un-saved) non-Pentecostals!
A final by-product
of the extremist doctrine is a rigid control over church members. Most
Pentecostals teach the importance of divinely-called leadership. The
offices of pastor, evangelist and teacher are seen as the result of
divine calling rather than human choosing or training. Thus, such
ministries ought to be respected. The Revival Centres, however,
emphasise this more strongly yet. For example,
many today are roaming around from one church to another. They believe
this to be the 'liberty' of the Lord. It is not. It is a form of
lawless independence. This is usually because they are not amenable to
any type of oversight or correction ..."
principle is agreed to by most Pentecostals. But it is not normally
applied with the same strength. In practice, when people visit a
Revival Centre, they are asked where they come from and what their
intentions are. If they belong to another Pentecostal church they are
told clearly that they should either go back there or move in totally
with the Centre. Casual visitors are not sought. Unbelievers who
attend are, of course, encouraged to join the group.
positive side, this same attitude produces a movement of confident,
forthright, fiercely loyal people. There is no room for compromise.
You either accept everything that is taught or you leave. Many do, in
fact, leave. But hundreds of others stay and fully endorse what is said
The preaching is vigorous and clear. Hearers are left
in no doubt of what they must do. There is no middle ground.
Centre meetings are lively and positive. There is a straight-forward
hard-hitting quality about them. As may be imagined, there is little
sentiment or soft-pedalling. The singing is enthusiastic, the praise
fervent, the preaching forthright, and the expectancy high. Some
Pentecostal services give the sense of joyful spontaniety or of family
fellowship; these qualities can be found in Revival Centres, too, but
with them, there is also a sense of militancy. These people are more
like an army than a club.
The Melbourne Revival Centre has been
frequently in the news. In March, 1966, they paid over $90,000 for a
property in Harcourt Street, Auburn. This included one and a half acres
of land and a seventeen-roomed house which had formerly been inhabited
by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. Nearby residents feared that the
building of a hall on the property would spoil the previously quiet
character of the area, and their protests made newspaper headlines both
in Victoria and interstate.
Ultimately, permission to build the
hall was refused, but the residence was kept as a manse for Pastor
Longfield. The assembly purchased the old Rialto Theatre in Kew where
crowds of up to 800 have met for special meetings. Normally about 500
In 1970, the Revival Centres again made the news when the
launched vigorous attacks against them. The Christian Revival Crusade
and other Pentecostals were also included in a series of articles which
"exposed" many things that never happened in the first place. There is
no evidence that any serious effect resulted from this: Longfield's
meetings probably grew. He is the kind of man to revel in any
publicity, good or bad.
Hollins' assembly in Geelong eventually
broke up. The majority of the congregation ultimately turned against
him, and claimed the hall. This congregation applied for re-admittance
to the Christian Revival Crusade, which was granted. Hollins began
again, and fairly soon built up another strong assembly at Norlane, a
Geelong suburb. In 1972, there was a further disagreement between
Hollins and Longfield. At the time of writing, they were out of
fellowship with each other.
In 1969, there were 14 Revival Centres
in various parts of Australia, six of them in Victoria, the rest mainly
in capital cities elsewhere.
Another feature of this ministry has
been its radio voice. For years, Longfield has broadcast every Sunday
over a number of stations. And on air as in pulpit, he lampoons the
churches and proclaims his forthright, uncompromising message.
year, a camp is held. The location has varied from year to year
according to the availability of camp sites. Recently, no camp site
being available, the people simply booked out normal public caravan
parks along a Victorian coast. Each family provides its own tent or
caravan and attends to its own cooking. Combined rallies are held in
the evenings. Up to 1OOO people have attended such events. Evening
rallies have been effective in winning converts, who are usually
baptised in the sea as soon as possible.
A periodical called the Voice
of Revival is published. Although dated, individual issues
are devoted to particular themes — Bible Prophecy, the baptism in the
Spirit, divine healing. So they remain in stock for people seeking help
on these subjects. Few photos appear; articles are often anonymous, or
at most, initialled; the magazine is brief, normally of about twelve
pages. True to the traditions of the Crusade from which it originated,
the Voice of Revival is labelled as "proclaiming the
gospel of salvation to the individual, the church and the nation."
Thus, the original vision for national revival is still there.
in Longfield's ministry, he was campaigning in Geelong. A man came to
the service one day who was well-known for his divisionary spirit. He
had caused trouble in other places by showing disloyalty among members
of various Pentecostal churches. Longfield politely asked him not to
come again. But next Sunday, he was again present.
the door was a new convert named Jack Clay. An ex-sailor, he was
muscular and strong. He had just been healed by the power of God from
an incurable disease for which medicine had been of no avail. He looked
at this man, and began to speak to him. "Didn't Mr, Longfield ask you
not to come here again?" Then he grasped the man by the scruff of the
neck and the seat of his trousers and bodily lifted him into the air.
"Mr. Longfield is a gentleman. I'm not. If I see
you here again, I'll pick you up, carry you outside and throw you over
With that, he put the man down. He was never seen at
these meetings again!
Jack Clay later became a prominent preacher
in the Revival Centres. With time, came also maturity, but
nevertheless, this anecdote clearly reveals the enthusiasm and vigour
that Longfield's ministry promotes.
Not everyone can agree with
him — indeed many are repelled. But none can deny that he knows what he
wants and is determined to get it!