I have found an old word creeping into my prayers and vocabulary lately. The word is revival.
Revival is when whole cities, churches or societies are attracted to and drawn to receiving Christ.
Its been 40 years since we have seen a societal revival. I know of some regional revivals and a couple within denominations. And a few within churches. But it has been four decades as I said since we have seen a phenomena like the Jesus Movement of the last century.
I have seen many formats of church life the last couple decades, and they have all done good and brought God glory for the most part. But as all things there is usually a mixture of dynamics. Many movements remind me more of social engineering than revival. Now, social engineering can be guided transformation so I am not saying it is illegitimate. But its not revival.
I think one of the reasons we don’t hear much about revival is it takes hope to see it and experience it. I see a diminishing level of hope in our society and the church. We are seeing the emergence of trends in the church that I think reside more in pessimism than hope. However there are good trends that are afoot.
The way of a lost world has always been to be disposed negatively to church and faith. It’s always been that way. It shouldn’t surprise us that people are turned off by all things organized and visible in the church.
I think there is plenty of room for editing all churches. And sometimes reason enough to shut down some movements. But none of that will solve our need. We need revival.
Usually students of revival will give the following list as precursors to revival:
- Extraordinary prayer…. in other words pray beyond normal.
- Hunger for and experience of greater devotion and holiness in God’s people… a sign not a demand here. This often precedes but not always an awakening.
- Creative new ways of communicating the truth.
- Hopeful leaders who “see” a new day.
It is absolutely true however that revival appears to often be capricious and surprising. I think this is the kind we need. I have a sense that we are seeing the beginnings of a small cloud of awakening. Hopefully there will be enough hope to realize a full blown awakening.