The Lord's church has gotten away from basic Bible doctrine. When was the last time you heard a "hell fire and brimstone" sermon? Many of our young people have never heard one. How often do we hear a solid sermon on first principals? Or one on the facts and differences of the old and new laws? The fact is, many of us older Christians are well acquainted with these subjects and we tend to forget that everyone has not been exposed to as much basic teaching as once prevailed.
The Restoration movement began just about the beginning of the 19th century. I was born just over a hundred years later, but the Lord's church was something to behold at that time. We did not have "Revivals". We had "Protracted Meetings" and protracted they were. We sometimes had protracted meetings in "brush arbors". The men of the community would get together and cut poles and make a large framework and cover the top with fully leaved limbs into a tent-like structure, they would bring benches and chairs borrowed from their homes and/or meeting houses to fill the structure with seating. Then, most often a preacher of some renown would be brought in to preach twice daily for two full weeks! Today, 3 to 4 days is the norm and usually 5 or 6 days is the very maximum we can get people to attend or a preacher to preach (1 service per day).
And what a series of meetings it would be! No soft, bland, sleep-inducing sermons! Those old preachers could rattle off scripures so fast and meanigful that you couldn't have gone to sleep if you tried. They could hold you spell-bound with their vivid proclamations. They preached to the community, everyone came, regardless of their religious persuasions, and they never pulled any punches. You got the truth, unadorned, plain and simple.
Yes, there were some who were angered by the preaching, some offended, but often those very angry or offended ones were baptized before the 2 week meeting ended! In those meetings as I recall, there were baptisms almost daily throughout the meeting. The Lord's church was enjoying a time of glory and was growing by leaps and bounds. It grew to an estimated 2 million somewhere around the mid 20th century, but then slowed to a virtual standstill!
I do not believe it is a coincidence that preachers started preaching to scratch itching ears, we stopped studying the Bible, and the church began adding innovations to be like those round about us, and at the same time stopped growing! Not a coincidence. I submit below some links to lessons by brethren who "tell it like it is".