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My Experiences with IFB Evangelist Dennis Corle

I started the Somerset Baptist Church in Somerset, Ohio in July 1983. Sixteen people attended our first service. We later bought an abandoned, 150-year-old Methodist church building five miles east of Somerset for $5,000. Attendance quickly exploded, and by 1987, the church was running four bus routes and had a high attendance of 206. Across five years, roughly 600 people made public professions of faith. Countless Christian people came to the altar, knelt, wept, slung snot, and got right with God. Somerset Baptist had all the marks of a church on the move. We talked about adding space to accommodate the burgeoning crowd. Unfortunately, the cost was prohibitive, so we made do with what we had. This proved to be the right decision. Internal personal and theological squabbles led to people leaving the church and taking their money with them. Our total income dropped by 50 percent. We sold off all our buses and started a tuition-free member-only Christian school. In February 1994, we closed the church, sold the building for $25,000, and I left to become the co-pastor of Community Baptist Church — a growing congregation southeast of San Antonio, Texas.

During the eleven years I was privileged to pastor Somerset Baptist Church, numerous evangelists preached for us. Men such as Doug Day and Don Hardman preached multiple meetings. Other men were, for a variety of reasons, one and done. Dennis Corle, a well-known evangelist in IFB circles, preached at least two meetings for us, one in 1984 and another in 1987. Corle may have preached another meeting, but my memory is sketchy, so I will focus on the two meetings I remember best. Corle also preached a meeting for my father-in-law at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, a church I started with Dad in 1981.

Corle describes himself this way:

Dennis Corle was saved on January 15, 1975, at the age of 20, and began preaching just a few months after his conversion. He worked on staff at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ski Gap, Pennsylvania, for over 2 years. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Beth Haven Baptist College in Louisville, Kentucky, under the ministry of Dr. Tom Wallace in 1980. He completed the four-year course in 20 months and graduated valedictorian of his class.

He spent one-year training under the ministry of veteran evangelist, Dr. Joe Boyd traveling and working in his revival meetings. He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Tri-State Baptist College in Memphis, Tennessee, with Dr. Ron Westmoreland, and a Th.M. and Th.D. degree from Great Commission Theological Seminary.  He also received a Doctor of Humanities from Truth Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Literature from Faith Baptist College; as well as a Th.M. and Th.D. from Landmark Baptist College. He has started eight different churches through the years and has helped over 100 other church planters get started.

Dennis Corle entered full time evangelism in 1981. In the past 38 years: he has traveled over 4 million miles, held over 2,085 revival meetings and over a thousand one-day meetings as well as Soul-winning and Revival Fires Conferences.

In his ministry he has had over 71,336 saved and 19,422 baptized. He has seen thousands of young people surrender for full time ministry many of whom are presently serving the Lord full time as well as thousands of members added to independent Baptist Churches during his meetings.

He is the founder and president of Revival Fires Baptist College which is a correspondence college that offers a full 4-year program. He started and teaches a summer institute designed to train young evangelists in the field. Dr. Corle also teaches in several fundamental Baptist colleges each year.

Dennis Corle is the founder of Revival Fires Publishing. His ministry has published 127 books to date.


Dr. Corle is the Editor/Publisher of the monthly fundamental publication, Revival Fires! For 31 years in its present form and three years prior in a smaller format he’s hosted the Revival Fires! National Conference. He has also hosted the Shooters’ Expo, Evangelists’ School, and Church Planting Conference for years.

Brother Corle travels with his family to hold around 100 meetings each year all over the United States and a few foreign fields.

As you can see, Corle is a bean counter and braggart. It’s one thing to humbly share your accomplishments, and another to say:

In the past 38 years: he has traveled over 4 million miles, held over 2,085 revival meetings and over a thousand one-day meetings as well as Soul-winning and Revival Fires Conferences.

In his ministry he has had over 71,336 saved and 19,422 baptized. He has seen thousands of young people surrender for full time ministry many of whom are presently serving the Lord full time as well as thousands of members added to independent Baptist Churches during his meetings.

For my view on Corle’s “numbers,” please see the post How Math Led Me Away from the IFB Church Movement.

Corle has always been a promoter of one-two-three-repeat-after-me evangelism. (Please see One, Two, Three, Repeat After Me: Salvation Bob Gray Style.) Corle told me that he could win any sinner to Christ in five minutes. Just follow the plan, get them to pray the sinner’s prayer, and move on. Corle led numerous people to Christ while holding meetings at our church. Few of them ever visited the church or were baptized, yet they were all notches on the grips of Corle’s gospel six-shooter; one of the 71,336 people saved under his ministry.

Corle thought very little of spending significant time studying in preparation for preaching on Sundays. He told me pastors should only spend four or five hours a week preparing their sermons. Better for them to spend the bulk of their time knocking on doors and winning souls for Christ. I, of course, rejected Corle’s advice. By the late eighties, I was spending 20 hours a week studying for my sermons.

Corle’s preaching was typical IFB stuff. Lots of fear and guilt. Corle could be a bully, especially during invitations. His goal was always the same: to beg and plead for people to come forward, and if that didn’t work, cajole and berate them. One night, Corle preached on the importance of church membership. His objective was to get people to come forward and join the church. During the invitation, Corle asked everyone who was not a member to raise their hands. One such couple was Kerry and Linda Locke (who later joined the church). Corle proceeded to call out Kerry, demanding that he give a good reason for not joining Somerset Baptist. Corle tried to badger Kerry and his wife into coming forward, but they declined. I was so embarrassed by Corle’s behavior. I later apologized to the Lockes.

The first meeting Corle preached for us took place in 1984. At the time, attendance was small. We were meeting in a rented facility, the upstairs part of the Landmark building. Not many souls were saved during this first meeting, but that would change in 1987. By then, we were in our own building, and attendance was averaging 150. Corle preached Sunday morning and Sunday night, and Monday through Friday nights. We had good a turnout for each service. Corle also held a service for children one hour before. I did not attend these services, so I had no idea what was going on. That would be a big mistake on my part.

The meeting came and went with nary a thought. Weeks later, I received the latest issue of the IFB rag the Sword of the Lord. The Sword had a section where IFB evangelists could report their stats. Imagine my surprise to read that 45 souls were saved under the preaching of Dennis Corle at Somerset Baptist Church. I had a Baptist version of WTF moment. When were these people saved? There weren’t 45 people saved during the revival services — not even close. Was Corle lying about his soulwinning prowess? Maybe. After all, he ran in Sword of the Lord/Jack Hyles circles. Exaggeration (lying) was common. Not so much these days since the IFB church movement is largely a smoldering dumpster fire.

Come to find out, Corle was using high-pressure evangelism techniques to “save” largely church children. He would scare the Hell out of these captive youngsters, and then ask them if they wanted to get “saved.” Of course, they wanted to get saved. They were trembling in fear from being threatened with God’s judgment and eternal torture in Hell. Today, I view such techniques as child abuse.

Corle did not get another opportunity to preach at our church. The only positive thing I can say about Corle is that his wife Kathy had a wonderful singing voice.

Video Link

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    What’s with all these pretend degrees these types claim? Presumably all provided by diploma mills to people whose only claim to academic achievement is being able to change a lightbulb. I’m not denying that the study of theology is academically rigorous, when undertaken by genuine scholars (Bart Ehrman comes to mind) but this pretence of scholarship amounts almost to fraud in my mind.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      The schools are legit. You have to actually do the work, but the hardness/difficulty/challenge of the work is lacking. I didn’t take one class I considered “hard.” Then why the poor grades in a few of them? Full-time job. Church requirements. Evangelism requirements. Ministry requirements. Strict dorm curfew. All this led to having very little actual time to do your school work. That said, I took some classes out at the local community college years ago. I didn’t find them hard, but I had a lot more time to do my work.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Most, if not all, of Corle’s degrees come from unaccredited institutions. The doctorates were all honorary, I’m sure — as are most IFB doctorates. Calling oneself “Dr.” is all about status and being “revered” by people. I refused to call such people doctor — including Polly’s “Dr.” sporting preacher uncle. She has a cousin who now has a doctorate. It’s all a joke. 😈😈

  2. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Those poor children! I can only hope that they’ve found good therapists and loving friends and partners.

    To me, the psychological abuse Corle committed is as awful as the physical sexual abuse perpetrated by other clergy members. I speak as someone who’s experienced both.

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    IFB are so into using threats and fear of hell as motivation to get “decisions”. The fundamentalist Christian school I attended was founded by Bob Jones and Pensacola Christian College folks. Their highlight of the year was the annual Bible conference where for a week we had preachers come in to scare us all into getting saved. I feel like in the heyday of fundamentalist Christian schools there were probably bigger name speakers, but by the late 80s we were reduced to former students who were pastors, friends of the administration, and even faculty in a pinch.

    Anyway, my Indian classmate whose family were Hindu told me years later that she tried to “get saved” at a Bible conference. Apparently the founder of our school wouldn’t baptize her without her parents’ permission. I always wondered how she must have felt sitting there hearing that her whole family were destined for hell….. she got over Christianity, BTW…..her family sent her to the private school thinking it would be a better education than public school…..

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    Benny S

    Wouldn’t it be sweet to witness someone like a Kerry Locke / Linda Locke have the courage to directly (and loudly) tell someone like Dennis Corle to “kiss my ass” (or worse) in front of the whole congregation. Sure, that person would be immediately escorted from the building, but… what a way to go. That one priceless moment would live forever. Even a biblical “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus” would be refreshing.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Looking at Dennis Corle,and the video of him preaching takes me back to the rural Pentecostal churches up in Northern California. The preachers look and sound the same, lol!

  6. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    I hit the “whoa!” button when I read that he finished a 4-year degree in 20 months. Going by the calendar schedule of the university that granted my master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree should take about 33 months of classes (not including finals weeks) over 8 semesters. (Well, except that it’s a state commuter school, and not uncommon for people juggling work/school/family to take 6 years, but that doesn’t matter for this argument.) So I call Bullshit over that early claim. Whatever he got through in 20 months (if indeed he did), was not the equivalent of a 4-year course of study in a secular subject by an accredited institution of higher learning.

  7. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    The problem with Christianity, especially American Christianity is there are too many Dennis Corle types running around.

  8. Avatar

    Gawdamighty, as my grandmother used to say, when does the man have time to sleep and eat? He appears to be moving at top speed, 28 hours a day. He is either batpoop crazy, or his math is waaay off.

  9. Avatar

    I started listening to the video and git triggered at the rapture verses – they’re still retained in my fucking brain because we had to memorize them at fundamentalist Christian school. Shut, there are parts of my brain still full if this shit after all these years. Why couldn’t I have been sent to a school where we memorized chemistry or physics stuff instead of Bible verses?

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Bruce Gerencser