Thoughts on the Coming Revival

Yesterday I wrote about my visit to Leonard Sweet’s crib in Orcas Island to share at his Spring advance.

One of the questions we discussed was, “Is there a coming Revival? And if so, what will it look like, how will the body of Christ respond, and who will it affect?”

I thought I’d post some of what I said in my answer to the question and ask a related question so all of you can weigh-in.

The Charismatics often define revival differently than do other Christians. Namely, Charismatics regard one of the characteristics of a revival to be signs and wonders.

Consequently, they typically count as “revivals” the Azusa street revival in 1906-1909 in Southern California, the Latter Rain revival of 1948 in Canada, and the 1994 revival beginning in Lakeland, Florida, moving to Toronto, Canada; Melbourne, Florida; and then Pensacola, Florida.

(The latter was dubbed “The Toronto Blessing.” I was present in the early meetings in Lakeland when it first broke out. I also visited the church in Melbourne, Florida to which it had spread. A decade later, I visited the same church in Melbourne, and it had become a hollow shell. But that’s another story for another day.)

I’m defining revival here in the classic sense. It’s when scores and scores of people get converted to Jesus Christ in a short time-span (usually four years). And this massive conversion phenomenon covers more than a few cities. It typically embraces an entire nation and sometimes other nations.

With respect to the United States, there have been two revivals in the 20th century. Both were undeniable.

The first occurred from 1948 to 1952. In those years, God brought a revival that stunned the nation. Countless young people came to Christ. This revival occurred in the traditional church. And it burned through college campuses all across America.

The “post-war revival,” as it’s sometimes called, spread across denominational lines. It eventually fizzled out, however, because leadership sought to control it. Nevertheless, it produced and launched a number of gifted servants of God who would go on to have world-wide ministries. Billy Graham was one of them. (Graham’s evangelistic ministry began just when the revival broke out.) The revival also brought many new para-church organizations into prominence.

The second occurred from 1968 to 1972. We know it as “the Jesus Movement.” It was the first revival ever to hit the United States that began and continued to thrive outside the traditional church.

House churches, simple churches, Christian communes and communities sprung up all over America. Droves of young people came to the Lord. It’s been said that you could spit in the street and a fountain would rise up. You could simply say the name “Jesus” and people would get saved.

Time Magazine 1971

Time Magazine 1971

The movement thrived among the youth in the counterculture. They were turning from the free-sex-and-drug culture to Jesus Christ. They were also experiencing the body of Christ in close-knit community. The revival reached its peak in the summer of 1972, making the covers of Time, Life, and Newsweek in ’71 and ‘72).

The afterglow lasted for another six years. By 1979, the revival was virtually dead. And the Jim Jones tragedy in 1978 made people suspicious of all non-institutional forms of church.

Presumably, the men who were in their 20s during the first move of God were in their 40s during the second move of God. These men stepped into leadership roles and began to take over (and control) the new move of God.

Despite its problems, the revival produced Calvary Chapel, Maranatha Music, and Jesus People USA. Most everything else that came with it dissolved.

Historically, revivals resurrect a dying church back to ground zero. Once the church is resurrected and the revival ends, the church continues on with the same practices and mindset it had before it sunk into death. Revival, therefore, is merely a temporary solution to a long-term problem. It has never touched the root of the church’s problems.

As I put it in my book Finding Organic Church, “What is needed in the body of Christ is not restoration. It’s not even revival. What is needed is a revolution—a complete and radical change from top to bottom, a new sighting of Jesus Christ and His church, and a change of both mind-set and practice. To put it bluntly, we need a revolution in our understanding of the Christian life. We need a revolution in our practice of the church. And we need a rev­olution in our approach to church planting.”

A.W. Tozer spoke in the same vein. In his book Keys to the Deeper Life (originally published in 1957), Tozer wrote the following in a chapter entitled, “Leaning into the Wind.”

“I believe that the imperative need of the day is not simply revival, but a radical reformation that will go to the root of our moral and spiritual maladies and deal with causes rather than with consequences, with the disease rather than with the symptoms . . . It is my considered opinion that under the present circumstances we do not want revival at all. A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in a hundred years.”

Three Closing Points:

  1. If the name of the game is conversions (souls saved), then Tozer’s analysis makes little sense. But if God is after something more than people converted to Christ (such as His Eternal Purpose), then his words should be seriously considered.
  2. It’s always problematic to look at the characteristics of past revivals. Because in past revivals, one can find a combination of characteristics. Some characteristics reflect God’s sovereign action while other characteristics reflect the culture in which that action occurred. And it’s often beyond our ability to pick those cleanly apart.
  3. In his book, Lectures on Revivals of Religion, Charles Finney argued that spawning a revival is like a fine science. As long as Christians follow certain steps, revival will come. God always wants revival, but it’s the result of human action. When I was in my 20s, I bought into this thinking, even trying to put it into practice. Today, I am skeptical about any alleged methods to create revival. As I look at past revivals, it seems to me that the wind blows wherever it wills. Locating a cause is usually a study in vanity (or “chasing the wind” with pun intended).

If revival comes to the United States again, what will it look like and how will it differ from the past two revivals of the 20th century?

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Comments

  1. Mike says

    Wow. So many comments. Let me add my 2 mites. I believe that it is possible that the way Historians define revival may not be fully accurate and I believe that it is definitely a major part of a larger thing that needs to and is going to occur. Revival is generally for the church. “Revivo” to make alive again something that was previously alive. CPR. The result of that and mark of that is many things including salvation of souls. As was mentioned, you could say Jesus and people would get saved. That is because somehow, the Holy Spirit had been unleashed. The problem over and over again is that the church lapsed into death again and had to be revived again. I believe that the groundwork is being laid so that we understand that it is always God’s will for us to be in revival (a live state) and that it is normal for us to see on a permanant basis what we have seen temporarily and I believe that the birth pangs of the last 20+ years (toronto, pensacola, lakeland) are indicators of this and contribute to the birth of this child. If we don’t settle and push for the heart of God we can see this come to pass. I feel that much of what Frank and others are helping us to see about what the church can and should look like will help to achieve the longivity. After all, it has been the intervention of leadership that has caused most of the “revivals” of the past to end or not even get off the ground. Thanks Frank for putting words to the feelings deep inside me for the past 20 years and helping me to understand I am standing on the outside of the insane asylum and living on the inside. I think. Ha.

  2. daid c wade says

    Frank,

    Your mention of Tozer brings to memory one of his most memorable phrases. When considering revival, he knew human pride was the primary stumbling block. A breakdown of hubris was necessary for revival to do it’s work. “The plough preceeds revival” was his observation. Planned and organized revival meetings do not gurantee a lasting movement of the Holy Spirit he observed – only when human weaknesses were purged, does the song linger on.

  3. says

    I personally like how Martyn Lloyd-Jones defines it:

    “…the best way of defining a revival is to say that it is the church returning to the book of Acts…” (Joy Unspeakable, pg. 36)

    • Henry says

      The best definition I’ve ever heard of revival is “The inrush of the spirit into a body that’s threatening to become a corpse”. That said, I really don’t think a revival into an old, worn-out, unbiblical church system will be that effective. In my view, what is needed is an all-out revolution that will take the church back to her New Testament roots. Right now, as I’ve done my own research on the deep level of paganism that the western church has adopted, and as we witnessed the revival that swept through some Saskatchewan, Canada cities, it lasted for a few years and then gave way back to the old system. The mandate given by our Lord to make disciples will NEVER be accomplished through the present system. Bring back the foundational Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Himself being the chief Cornerstone (Eph.2:20). Bluntly put, that would mean the present pastors would have to start working for a living where the rubber meets the road like the rest of us.

  4. Katherine says

    Hi Frank, I think your defining of revival and revolution is very interesting. I agree that we’re definitely not in a revival stage right now, especially in comparison to the 70s. Revivals are so refreshing and exciting, yet they come and go. So when you mentioned what we need is a revolution of the way we live and meet as the church, it truly strikes a chord within me.

    You reminded me of an excerpt I read about although we are always waiting for a revival, a true revival isn’t about mere excitement. What we really need is a recovery, being recovered to God’s eternal purpose. Like you said, Frank, His purpose is to indwell us and be expressed, or lived out, through us. A revival that causes man to correspond with God in life and nature, “divinity mingled with humanity, / Man’s spirit joined with God’s Spirit, / Causing God’s life / To be manifested in man.”

    In other words, re-live the living of the indwelling Christ. Martin Luther used the phrase, the God-man, to describe the person of Jesus Christ, who is now living in us. Since the pattern, the blueprint, is already there, isn’t the revolution we need a recovery that God needs?

  5. Judy Gregerson says

    Hi, Frank. Thanks for this post. I am a child of the Jesus Movement and was saved in 1971 on the East Coast while in college and saw the signs and wonders of that time. Then I watched it die. And yet, so many of us lived it and so many of us remember what it was like and how God moved and changed lives. Sometimes I tell my Christian friends what it was like to see God instantly save and clean up drug addicts or literally throw people on their faces and tell them to repent. That actually happened in my college. Two kids, out doing LSD one night and God threw them on their faces in the snow and told them to repent of their sins. They did, and they became campus leaders.

    Anyway, as to revival. I believe it will come as personal revival rather than corporate revival. I think the church system is too set in its traditions and ways to let God move as He pleases and so I think that God will find those who are willing and He will work through them, outside the church. Maybe it will spill into the church in some way. I believe this is happening now, in small pockets all over the country because I’ve met people who have, in the last five years, been called to revival and repentance and forsaking what they used to call Christianity for a life of repentance and humility and putting God above all else.

  6. Ant Writes says

    I think this nation is ripe for a revival/revolution. People are lost and confused. They looked to Obama as a savior and were let down. Now young folks are looking to Ron Paul or Big Papa to bring us back to our roots. But none of them are the answers. With OWS, the bailouts in Europe , the earthquakes, the weird weather (tornadoes in Kansas in winter, snow in Phoenix, 80 degree weather in NY in March), people WANT leadership, unfortuntely, we’re prone to flock to imperfect humans who we think know the answers. The truth is, any human leader will let us down, whether it be a church leader, a president, a king or a home church facilitator. Only Jesus will give us the answers we need, and yet, we still try to do it ourselves or let others do it for us. If I read my Bible correctly, it’ll only get worse before it gets better.
    Thanks for the post, bro. A full reformation is sorely needed now.

  7. says

    Great post. I do think a revival is coming, but it will not be a national revival as in the past, but an international revival. I think it will be worldwide this time.

    If we look at the spread of the Gospel, it has been steadily moving westward around the globe. From Jerusalem, then primarily to Europe, then to the Americas, and now to Asia. I soon except to see a revival in Middle Eastern countries, and then a worldwide revival of unprecedented scale.

  8. Loretta says

    I’ve been a Christian for a few years now. Although I’m not a charismatic ( I don’t have the gifts of tongues/prophesy ) I am in awe of others that do. I’ve heard much about the Toronto blessings and other such revivals. Lately though I’ve come across video footage that puts the spotlight on some ‘not so Christian experiences’ e.g Kundalini awakenings and such. How does one discern what is of the Lord and what isn’t given that these revivals are led by some big names in the church.

    • Angela says

      I’ve heard enough to think it’s quite possible these local revivals started as something real, but some places were co-opted pretty early by ‘not good’ stuff. It unfortunately showcases the lack of discernment and Christ-centeredness of those involved in leadership. It’s quite easy to quit focusing on the Lord and what he wants when you don’t have a solid foundation of that in your heart already and exciting things start happening.

      As someone raised ‘charismatic,’ I’ve experienced two kinds of charismatics — the ones who have an amazing deep walk with the Lord, and the ones who chase miracles and manifestations, thrills and chills, and go with the latest spiritual fad. You can see plenty examples of the latter on Christian TV, you have probably been blest to know some of the former personally if you are in awe of them. My mother was one of the deep ones, and I am still in awe of her, but in spite of her example I have sometimes been enticed by the ‘dark side,’ so I know how easy it is to get our eyes off the Lord. He said to seek Him, not seek after signs. Yet signs will definitely follow those who believe.

      Pursue knowing the Lord and living by His life and you will soon be more truly gifted and full of His Spirit than most charismatics, and will also have a better understanding of His purpose. You can be filled gradually and quietly, as well as suddenly and dramatically — and we all leak. Our sudden and dramatic encounters with the Lord can never substitute for the day to day abiding with Him. I know this from experience. I have had some amazing dramatic encounters with the Lord, but they go nowhere without developing a deeper, closer, daily relationship with Him.

  9. says

    I haven’t read the overwhelming number of comments on this topic, but here are my first thoughts.

    I’ve heard many missionaries state that countries like Africa and China are praying for US to have a revival like they have experienced in their countries. I think most Americans would be terrified to have that kind of revival; one in which man realizes he is not in control. I often wonder, would we accept it with humility or would we still try to take charge?

    Personally, I feel that what is coming is more about opening our eyes and hearts to our Sovereign Lord, falling in love with Him afresh and being thankful everyday for what He has given and continues to give us in spite of our unworthiness. I liken it more to bowing the knee than raising arms and shouting in triumph; though thankfully that day will also come. I just think one must preceed the other.

    I’ve seen too many situations in the past where emotions run high and then plummet into meaninglessness. We need genuine personal experiences with staying power. Hearts in total surrender. Even then – it is a daily struggle – without Him in His rightful place it is impossible.

  10. says

    I feel certain there is a great and revolutionary revival simmering just under the surface, ready to erupt when Father deems the time right.

    There’s lots of evidence. There are so many books from a wide range of authors, mostly in the last ten years, that give glimpses of new approaches to church structure, life, planting, evangelism and more. These are refreshing, exciting books. They are not rehashes of old ideas (unless you regard New Testament patterns as ‘old ideas’).

    There are countless blogs offering fascinating stories and experiences from around the globe.

    And there are thriving, even exploding, movements of church growth in some very unexpected places. Mostly, this is happening in non-Western cultures, frequently in difficult and dangerous situations and with fearful levels of opposition and persecution.

    The revolution is coming, indeed it’s already active in the UK, the USA, and the West in general. But so far it’s not always visible in public. The UK is perhaps five to ten years behind the USA.

    We do live in exciting times!

  11. Angela says

    If I was going to guess what a future revival in this country would look like, the first thing I’d do is look at past revivals. Most began and spread among the down and out — coal miners, hippies, starving peasants — the poor in spirit. Maybe we should look around and figure out who those are going to be in the future. The autistic adults? Inner city folk? Burned out New Agers? the homeless? the gays and sex addicts? The Hippies in the Jesus People were already searching for meaning and were ripe for the picking. Hopefully we will soon have plenty of people realizing the emptiness of agnosticism, relativism, pop-Buddhism, messianic government, medicating their emotions, lack of real relationships, etc. I hope the house church and emergent church movement, with all their problems, will at least have cleared the way to view the organic expression of the church that will naturally arise as legitimate and desirable and something to be honored and nurtured, rather than controlled or squelched. I pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send out workers so that America will have thriving church life.

  12. Kris says

    I think the revolution will have nothing to do with service times on Sundays when “God shows up.” The total change and reboot just may be totally different than the congregational worship-service-attendance model we’ve come to be so focused on as a measure of God’s work– perhaps the Kingdom of God is beginning to break out in bars, cafes, on basketball courts and running trails, in shelters and day cares. What if thinking “outside the box” of Usual Church is what we need to do– and then do it? I think the Spirit is claustrophobic.

  13. Jim Puntney says

    During the earthly ministry of Jesus He was at odds with the traditions of men, men were at odds with Jesus. His unconventional approach, and the barriers that were being not only crossed, but abolished startled the religious establishment of the time.

    Could it be that these issues are relevant to our day? Is there more than to life, and living that we are missing out on due to our traditions? Are we experiencing Jesus, are we being transformed, are we living in a manner that is in harmony with His teachings? Are splashing in the pool, when the ocean is just a few steps away? Are we able to entertain questions, and willing to respond to sound teaching?

    Our days of spiritual interference may be coming to a close, the question may fall upon sustainability, are we more focused upon mammon, or Jesus? The two are diametrically opposed, one is fleeting, and one is faithful. Are we building upon sand or substance?

    Come let us reason together.

  14. says

    I am looking forward to what God does next, although I am not sure He is through clearing out the dead wood (I still remember reading your message on “He takes away the first that He might establish the second.”) If I disagree with you on anything, it would be that I see our situation in the US and other western nations as being more similar to conditions prior to the Great Awakening of the 1730s-40s, and the Second Great Awakening of the early 1800s. In terms of moral decay and lawlessness in our society, I think we are nearer to the conditions of those times than to the 1950s and ’70s.

    My wife and I grew up in one of the groups that arose out of the Second Great Awakening, the Christian Church/Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ/non-instrument Church of Christ. I still sometimes call myself an “unreconstructed Campbellite” because my views in some areas are closer to those of old Alexander C. than most people today who think they are his followers. In fact, when I ran across the house church movement on the Internet almost ten years ago, I was struck by the similarities between what they were saying and what Campbell was saying in the early 1800s. (Campbell and his associates did not try to do away with church building, but their buildings in what is now the Midwest tended to be a lot simpler and less expensive than today’s. He did try to get rid of professional clergy, but the second and third generations went back to relying on them.)

    One expectation I do have about the shape the Revolution will take, is that it will not begin from the established leadership of the visible Church. Historically, revivals are not led by popes, archbishops or denominational executives; in fact, they generally try to ignore it or oppose it. God uses “nobodies” who are available. The “Big Men in the Brotherhood” are always too busy doing BMitB things to respond when God wants to make waves, and they are also too tied to the status quo. So He uses nobodies who are open to being used. In the 1730s, the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield were clergy,but so far down the food chain in the Anglican Church that they could not even get supply preaching jobs. James McGready (Red River Meeting in 1800)and Barton Stone (Cane Ridge in 1801, he had attended Red River) were poorly educated, backwoods “jackleg” preachers. We are too used to remembering the big names like Moody and Graham, and forgetting that when they started, they were nobodies.

    The problem with “movements” is that after a while they stop moving and turn into monuments. I was part of a Vineyard church in the late ’90s; I saw signs they were starting to pour the concrete within a year after John Wimber died. It may take a lot of clearing things out of the way before God makes His new move, in order to keep the concrete out of it.

  15. says

    Second Corinthians 4:16 says, “…indeed our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day.” We need this kind of renewal in the inner life as opposed to a renewal in outward actions or expression. This revival is daily, built up in our experience of Christ, and is supported in the context of the reality of the Body of Christ. I think if we only have a revival in getting people saved, this will again cool down. We have to build up a revival by helping Christians to live Christ. Only this kind of revival is reliable and long lasting because it is a matter of life.

    • says

      Hear hear! I like the idea that we should focus on making disciples and then church will happen naturally as a result, whereas if we focus on making church happen then discipleship (i.e. renewal of the inner life) may well not happen.

      • says

        Ah, I see that myth is still alive even though it’s been refuted. That’s the traditional paradigm and it’s quite unbiblical. The problem is “church” isn’t understood biblically when people make that statement and so individual disciples become the name of the game. This represents no understanding of God’s eternal purpose. See http://frankviola.org/2009/07/26/discipleship-mission-and-church-a-plea-to-learn-our-history/ for the refutation of that myth.

        • says

          I agree there is too much focus on making disciples and not enough emphasis on the reality of the Body of Christ or God’s economy. Even “living in community” can become another method to produce disciples that is not quite aligned with God’s eternal purpose. It’s interesting to note that the word disciple isn’t even used after Acts 21:16. Paul’s epistles center not on discipleship but on the church as the Body of Christ. It’s also interesting to note that Paul is the only writer of the New Testament to use the terms Body of Christ and eternal purpose.

  16. says

    My thoughts on this got to be too much for your comment section so I wrote a blog post in response about my generation (largely 20’s and 30’s)and any upcoming revival.

    Here is a snip:

    With such deep convictions of the importance of relationships and the desire to make the world a better place, the believers from the millennial generation will be the raw building materials for God’s dwelling place on earth and give Him a physical body to display Himself to the world. The millennial revival will be the like an amplified “Jesus only” movement with modern technology offering connectivity that has never before been possible. When Jesus begins changing the hearts of this generation we will likely turn the world upside down and God’s eternal purpose in Christ will become more of a reality in time.

    The rest is here: http://bobbyauner.blogspot.com/2012/03/coming-revival.html

  17. says

    One difference as I see it is that many, many people have just a very faint idea of what the good news of Jesus is. Was this the case back in the late 60s to early 70s revival? My guess is not. Anyhow, in my country (the UK) it seems that far more people than just a few decades ago have little idea of even the most basic points of Christianity.

    That surely requires missional work to become rather different in character from how it used to be, although maybe there’s a positive point in that there are now plenty of people who don’t have much baggage in terms of ideas about how church ‘ought to be done’. Someone coming to the Bible for the first time is probably more likely to simply try and emulate what the early Christians did, without filtering what they’re reading through a lens that says we don’t do things that way any more.

    • says

      Kevin, I like what you’re saying, and I agree that people seem to know far less about Christianity. I couldn’t speak for how things have evolved in the UK, but I think here in the States one of the big things that has inhibited understanding of basic Christianity is the challenges that have been posed to teaching, reading, and valuing great works from the canon of literature. Two key aspects of my graduate education were multicultural literature and post-colonial studies, so I have tremendous sympathy for the argument that what we consider the canon of great literature very often excludes and offends a lot of folks. Even so, the canon of Western literature is filled to over-flowing with Christianity. When we add to the diminishment of the literary canon, the fact that we are increasingly not a culture that reads literature together in families or in schools (or even reads in general) and we are increasingly clock-watching, 1 hour and the preacher better be done church attenders, and increasingly disinterested in long-standing conversations about anything deeper than Reality TV…it makes sense that folks don’t know much about the basics of Christianity. Most of what they hear is blips on the news about some wacky church burning books or claiming that God is punishing Haiti, New Orleans, etc through natural disasters. Intelligent public discourse is increasingly limited.

    • says

      You are right, Kevin. Spot on.

      When Paul began reaching people in the Greek and Roman world, just about nobody had any idea of what the good news of Jesus was. Yet the church grew explosively.

      Why? Because Paul’s approach was very different from traditional missions in the UK. I recommend Ross Rohde’s book, ‘Viral Jesus’? His subtitle is ‘Recovering the contagious power of the gospel’. The ISBN is 978-1-61638-485-2 and I wrote a brief review with an Amazon link at

      http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2012/03/viral-jesus-review.html

  18. says

    I believe that God will express Himself, as He often does, by humble means, in a quiet way. (That’s not to say that it won’t be in sweeping measures.) My hope and prayer is that we will be revived in our desire to know Him in His depths, not just individually but collectively, and be completely freed from religion!

  19. dan w says

    Good day brothers and sisters,
    I would like to offer a thought, I believe that we are in a revival. We just need eyes to see. What I am seeing is a flood, removing themselves from the art of religion. There are so many people that I speak with( both saved and unsaved) that are hungry for just Jesus. No flash and flare of religious garb. You would be amazed those that are hungry. If we are supposed to have eyes to see….. I see alot of revival. A great awakening of truth, revelation, and deeper relationship with Jesus. I pray that we may all participate in this current move. I I think it all starts with simply asking questions and challenge your faith.
    Grace and peace fellow family members.

    • says

      Dan: We’re not in a revival in the USA the way I’ve defined it. The present atmosphere and climate doesn’t come close to what was happening in those 8 years in the past that I outlined. People, in general, are hardened to the gospel in our country. It wasn’t that way in the late 60s and early to mid 70s. It was very easy to lead people to the Lord then. They were ripe and receptive. It’s not that way today, I’m afraid. Not now anyway.

      • Tim says

        You are right Frank. I was in the revival in the 70s. It was so easy to get people saved. I travel all over the country now and it’s very hard. It usually takes a long time for one person to come to faith. This isn’t a revival. I believe one is coming though.

      • dan w says

        I can truly understand from where you are coming from, however, having been born in the 70s I was a little young to remember that revival. Which might put me in the not experienced enough catagory. I still would like to disagree.having come to christ in 92, I fell victim to the prosperity movement. Which is why people are very hardened. They are not looking for a “show me the money” gospel. They are searching for an “epic Jesus”. So many people that I come in contact with are hurt and wounded from institutional church. Having been hurt and healed(through some of your books) by the traditional church myself, I wait for the opportunity to minister to those.
        Also I would like to make one last comment, and it is with the most respect. But what if revival came in a way that you didn’t recognize? Does that make it any less of a revival, if it isn’t like the others?
        Grace and peace

        • says

          Dan: We’re talking about two different things here. You are defining “revival” differently from the way I am and the way Christian historians speak about it. That’s fine, of course. But it must be made clear that we’re speaking of two different things else no sense can be made of it. I appreciate Tim’s comment as this is the reality that I’ve found in traveling across the country and talking to pastors in the institutional church and those outside of it. When revival comes again, it will be undeniable. That’s part of the hallmarks of revivals as described in this post. I do think that the next revival may come differently and will/may reach a different set of people from the past (probably), but the earmark of many saved rapidly will be there (else it’s not a revival). Appreciate your fellowship.

          • dan w says

            i guess I would have to agree. I’m just looking at things differently. Thanks for the conversation.

  20. says

    Frank, to address the final question of your post: My honest answer is that I haven’t the faintest idea! ; )

    From reading the comments, I see that how I understand the concept of “revival” differs (in some cases wildly) from how others understand it. My “first contact” with the concept came years ago, when my grandparents talked about the “revival meetings” of their youth. What they meant were the week-long gospel meetings that used to take place in tents. This would’ve been in the 1940s and ’50s. Itinerant preachers, huge crowds in the sweltering summer heat, scores of people “coming forward” at the end of each meeting. For years, my grandparents were the only people I ever heard talk about “revival.” I’d never witnessed a tent meeting, so this “revival” was a foreign concept.

    And now? I don’t know. So much about my faith has changed over the last few years — so many “definitions” are still in flux as all these pesky filters disintegrate! I couldn’t venture to guess what another revival would look like…

    …but one thing I do know for certain: Our Lord is in the business of “making everything new.” I believe He is always looking for those moments, those circumstances, those hearts into which He can pour life-giving renewal. Sometimes, moments and circumstances and people converge so that this can happen on a large and visible scale. Sometimes, it happens nigh invisibly — so that only a few are aware of it. But with Him, it happens constantly.

    Either way, it’s exciting and awe-inspiring when we get to see it happen.

  21. charley danielson says

    I am not a pastor or of that cloth. My field is ecnomics, socioeconomics and investor with a strong desire to let God/Jesus rule my life daily and moment by moment. I do really enjoy reading your articles and enjoy many of the same authors you do.

    With economy in America grumling and will fall further depths in future time is inevitable.

    From an socioeconmic point, people will cling dearer to their beliefs what ever they are. For christians will this clinging being a revolution to the center of Christ indwelling? If so a revolution set up for a revival would be next, I think.

    Of course it is not the revival that is so important as it is letting Christ rule our hearts. Weather in our first love or our love for Christ’s miracle of redemption not only at the cross, but our changing lives to perfection. Let Christ reign eternal. Today as well as tomorrow.

  22. Nathaniel Musson says

    I think that Azusa Street & the Toronto Blessing are really referred to more as “Renewal” than Revival in the classic sense. I think that people do call it revival with a litte “r” but most of those people are desiring to see that be as a first fruits of an actual 3rd Great Awakening.

  23. Peter Ziemer says

    I have often heard revival’s referred to as visitations … One thing I
    have come to realize is that while visitations of God are wonderful
    and powerful what we really need is Habitation. … ‘Where will My
    Resting place be? ‘ … The place I need to co
    E tooswhere Moses was … Unless Your Presense goes with us do
    Not send us up from here!

    Pzie

    • says

      I’m not sure that we need a “revolution in our approach to church planting”. We probably need an inspired way of communicating the gospel of God’s love and grace from generation to generation. I think that has always been the problem. It was evident in Cain and Abel’s relationship to each other and to God which they should have learned from their father Adam. The stress and struggles of doing this were evident in the account of the transfer of God’s covenant with Abraham to his son Isaac and then to his grandson Jacob. And it was certainly evident in the lives of David and Solomon. The structural evidence of historic revivals, as noted, tends to fade away after two generations get weaken and distracted in their lives of empowered service by their acceptance of opinions and strategies from the world and popular culture, which is what happened to the son of Solomon, Rehoboam, who caused a major break in the structural and spiritual unity of God’s presence and glory in the kingdoms of David of Solomon. And the Holy Roman Empire and the Protestant Reformation and historic revivals in England and the US have really not been able to end this problem. I committed my life to full-time Christian service in 1950 in a Youth for Christ meeting in Los Angeles, and have been trying to serve my Lord ever since, but my efforts have not been perfect with my sons, although my oldest grandson is engaged in a fruitful ministry in a large local church. I think that the gospel is communicated and implemented with power by individuals from generation to generation and not through church structures and organizations that are “planted” from place to place.

  24. says

    Frank, your ideas make sense to me. I read something once in Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour that I I extend out to other concerns of the believer and the Church. Referring to Ephesians 6:10, Gurnall talks about gaining strength from God’s mighty (infinite) power, and how that strength is our defense. But Gurnall makes it clear also that God’s power does not exist only to defend us, but His power exists to defend itself…Himself. God does not need me to stand in defense of Him. I apply this kind of thinking likewise to revival, revolution, restoration, and all manner of redemption explosions within the Kingdom. God does not need me to instigate any of these expansions of the Body, or explosions of belief. The Holy Spirit’s movement through us–the Spirit that leads us to the two chief purposes of being human, namely to fully love, serve, and enjoy God and so then one another–is the revival…the revolution etc. We cannot manufacture that movement through a determination to spark change in others unless we first have manufactured within us (through His infinite power, I might add) the Spirit, which is the life within change. If we are truly excited about Christ and what He has done for us, and if we are moved at all to share that enthusiasm with others, that is the Holy Spirit dwelling, working, reaching, expanding, etc. It was never our own determination or motive. It is never our action.

    I recently visited a local Armenian church–replete with regalia, incense…the whole high church thing going on. It appeared that the pastor and the (are they called acolytes???) others leading the service were related. It was quite a sight to see this very 21st Century clan attempting to deliver holiness to the congregation, which was a decidedly over 70 group. I understood little of the service, but I mused over a few interesting thoughts that hung over me for a few days afterward. First, I couldn’t help thinking about the temple in Jerusalem, and the serious display of holiness that God had built into every detail of worship–from the construction of the temple (including all aspects of design, materials, artistry, etc) to the actual practices of worship (including every detail of responsibility, in every worship circumstance of both priests and worshippers). We are missing so much of that glorious holiness…the reverence that was to be inspired through order, obedience, and God’s supernatural power. But of course I also saw the downside–the human, 21st Century reality of such a service. Fidgeting young boys who did not seem to resemble the young Samuel we see learning to serve in the temple with Eli. The older men and boys also struggled to maintain a focus on procedure etc. I wondered how many (if any) were more like the sons of Eli than like Samuel.

    When I left that service I couldn’t help thinking also about John the Baptist (who probably looked more like an indigent than a servant of God Most High. And I thought about Jesus, conducting worship and teaching on a hillside in casual clothes. His very presence was the holiness that an entire family selected by God for service could not replicate. It was a glorious-but-sorrowful mental/spiritual puzzle for me as I wondered for days how God would help us find our way to the awe-inspiring, reverent holiness of the temple, and the liberating, organic holiness of Christ. To me, the revivals and revolutions etc are all just the rumblings and shifting into position that will prepare us for that which we cannot imagine.

    Sadly, my musings don’t draw us any closer to some kind of solution for how to “fix” what is clearly an increasingly broken church (ask me about my recent experiences as a church “member” – OH MY!) But I do think that we may get somewhere when we stop trying to figure out if the problem is too many rules, not enough rules, bigger buildings, smaller groups, etc. I honestly think the key that opens the doors to revival, revolution, revelation, restoration, redemption, etc…all those good Rs…is 2 Chronicles 7:14. It’s about humility and prayer that begins in our own homes and our own lives and our little spheres of influence. No “vision” or mission or building or planting can accomplish as much as our humility before God and one another, and our movement from that humility to pray deeply as a way of life that is focused on loving, serving, and enjoying God by ourselves and with others.

  25. Matt Ziemer says

    Below is a word I received from the Lord a couple weeks back for our city. I feel it is in agreement and adds some more of the Lord’s thoughts to what you shared here

    Hello brothers and sisters, here is a word from the Lord concerning our present circumstances and his will for us as his body in XXX. Please read this and seek the Lord for revelation and the courage to be faithful as he calls you to move with him. As the Lord reveals himself to you in this time please share with others what he has done.

    Isa 42:13 The LORD goes out to fight like a warrior; he is ready and eager for battle. He gives a war cry, a battle shout; he shows his power against his enemies.
    Isa 42:14 God says, “For a long time I kept silent; I did not answer my people. But now the time to act has come; I cry out like a woman in labor.
    Isa 42:15 I will destroy the hills and mountains and dry up the grass and trees. I will turn the river valleys into deserts and dry up the pools of water.
    Isa 42:16 “I will lead my blind people by roads they have never traveled. I will turn their darkness into light and make rough country smooth before them. These are my promises, and I will keep them without fail.

    The Lord is moving in our midst to rescue us and accomplish his purposes. He is desiring to give us what is NEEDED;

    A powerful new vision of the Godhead:

    1 Their oneness.

    2. Their love for one another

    3. Their unified vision for us.

    4. Their Dance.

    5. Their music.

    6. Their friendship.

    He also has granted us the tools, the weapons to be victorious.

    God is at this time not just looking for soldiers.

    A soldier may be a soldier because he was conscripted, or needed a job , or wants to see the world etc. A soldier fights because he is ordered to, he just does what he must.

    God is looking for warriors, a warrior sees only one thing, VICTORY! A warrior fights with his whole heart, with this whole being and cares little about the possible consequences. He has little need of orders and does not seek respite, but seeks only to fight for the goal, to defeat the enemy and win the victory!

    Exo 15:3 The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.

  26. Yvette says

    I used to seek after revival…it meant ‘doing all the right things’- until I realized that I already have the life of Christ within me and I already am blessed with every spiritual blessing. We are told in the scriptures that signs follow those who BELIEVE. To me, this means that all of the salvations (sozo- saved, healed, delivered, set-free, kept safe and sound) that we see accompany revivals should aready be a ‘normal’ part of the life of a Believer. We need to be renewed in our minds. We need to understand what we already have. I have grown weary of looking for something that is constantly ‘coming’. I have become tired of trying to ‘become’ something that I already am… a new creation in Christ- full of life that always overcomes death! I re-iterate, “I’m not looking for revival, I am revival.”

  27. says

    For almost twenty-five years, I’ve heard prophecies about a great revival hitting America with thousands and thousands of people being converted. Over and over again, I’ve heard the same words. These prophetic words have been spoken so many times that certain people now believe it’s almost a part of the Gospel.

    Well, if it happens, great! But as for me, I’m not looking for it to happen that way.

    Yes, I would love to see reformation or a revolution, but even these two changes may come about with a third item thrown into the mix: persecution. And if persecution is a part of our futures, then many of the boundaries and walls which now hinder us Christians will have to come down if we want to survive.

    I’m thinking that America’s so-called revival or reformation or revolution or whatever may end up resembling what happened in China after the missionaries were sent home and the doors were shut.

  28. says

    I think one of the first things that we need to consider is, “Why are we dead in the first place?” If we look at the Body analogy I think we can understand why we’re dead. First of all, we are disconnected, for the most part, from the Head. The practical and direct headship of Christ is rarely known in the gatherings and life of the church. Secondly, we are dismembered. The Body is full of schism, sectarianism, isolationism, exclusivism, and individualism, so that there is little unity and being “members one of another.” Thirdly, in most expressions of the church, only about 20 percent of the members at best are vitally functioning, while the rest are passive, atrophied, stunted and/or sickly. The members that are functioning, as a result are often overworked, overextended and/or burned out. So, we have a decapitated, dismembered, malfunctioning Body that can only be kept alive by man-made life support systems. It is no wonder that the Church is continually crying out for REVIVAL!

    Our normal state of being is meant to be LIFE, in abundance. Until the paradigms radically shift and the Church comes back to the centrality of Christ, the headship of Christ, the unity of Christ, and the fullness of Christ, expressed by a many-membered, knit-together, fully-functioning body, any hope of lasting revival, called LIFE, will be in vain.

    If we would do our part in this radical revolution, we might just find that we recover Christ in His Fullness, which is just called LIFE.

    • says

      Yes, I think there are two things working here.

      1. “Revival” as in countless souls saved and an UNCOMMON receptivity to the gospel – which marked the first two “revivals” I outlined.

      2. “Revolution” as it concerns the church. (Tozer calls it radical Reformation, but I’m using Revolution instead.)

      Those are two different things. What Tozer and I are saying is that we believe Revolution should proceed Revival.

      While I’d love to see Revival, as it’s always nice seeing a harvest of new converts that can’t be contained. If there are few decent “habitats” for them to live, breathe, and have their being, then much is lost.

      The local ekklesia is called to be a spiritual habitat rather than an event that occurs from time to time. But that’s another conversation.

      • says

        I have been thinking a lot about this lately and would like to put this out there for consideration. This draws from the “earthen vessel” picture of the Church. The first thing we need is “Revelation”; a revelation of Christ,of God’s eternal purpose and of the ecclesia according to Christ and the eternal purpose.This gives us a vision of the vessel that God desires. The second thing is “Revolution”; a re-centering and new revolving around Christ the Center of all things, even as a pot must be centered on the potter’s wheel to be formed properly. The third is “Reformation”; a re-formation of the vessel that comes from being centered on the potter’s wheel properly. Then, “Restoration”, the full forming of the vessel, as well as its being filled with the fullness of Christ. And, finally,”Revival”, the overflowing of the vessel, the dispensing of Christ to the world.

        It seems we often seek the end result of the process while neglecting the foundational stages that will secure that end, permanently. Maybe the next “Revival” will begin first with a Christ-centered “Revelation”, then a Christ-centered “Revolution”, then a Christ-centered “Reformation” and ultimately a Christ-centered “Restoration”. That is my hope and prayer.

  29. Mike says

    I am going to tell part of my story which is much smaller in scope than this discussion but testifies in agreement as best I can see it. One point from the post that resonated with my limited experience in institutional church was the stepping in of leadership to take control of something powerful happening in the lives of Christians. I met with a group of fellow 20 somethings for lunch once a week and it was such a wonderful experience — particularly to have a place to share Christ honestly and informally. After several months of strong attendance and participation a staff member of the church most of us were a part of stepped in to “give our meetings structure.” We began discussing the previous weeks sermon and soon the group was boring and dead.

    • says

      Oh, what a shame that the life you had in your group got squashed by someone who (I assume) didn’t understand what you were all doing together. May you (and I!) find something like this again soon…

  30. Ross Purdy says

    Paul speaks of the next revival in Romans echoing a number of old testament passages. It is one in which Christ Himself instigates and carries through to completion, successfully, like no other perceived revival. It will occur when Christ returns the second time to establish His millennial kingdom on earth. Therein, all Jews will be saved, Israel restored in the new covenant, and it will become the ministering nation God intended it to be unto the nations. Then the peoples of the nations will come to Israel to learn about God. How does that compare to what men have seen as revivals? Like catching a quick glimpse of the moon through a momentary break in the clouds of a dark night is compared to high noon on planet Mercury

  31. Guy Sperlazzo says

    Hey Frank,
    Great post! One of my favorite topics are, as you put it “revolutions” of the Church back to our roots. I’m not sure what you know of Bill Hamon, but his book “Apostles, Prophets, and the Coming Moves of God” is centered around this topic, and I believe it goes hand in hand with a large portion of your ministry (as far as I can assume what that might be.)

    Albeit outdated, he writes on past and future “Restorational Movements of the Holy Spirit” and church history, leading up to what he calls the Saints Movement (which we are in today), a total revolution of the Church to be, by the end of it, something very similar to the first century Church.

    Anyway, I have been meaning to mention it, so if you haven’t read it, add it to your list. It seems right up your alley.

  32. Michael Miano says

    I’m a fairly young Christian pastor, yet an avid student of the Word and of Christian books. Now, anyone who studies the Word can clearly see the need for revival, reformation, restoration, whatever you may choose to term it.
    As I said above, you can read pretty much any Christian book these days and read of “Christians should…”, “the church should…”, “revolution”, “revival”, etc. To me that makes a clear point.
    Although, I believe revival happen at the cross, it’s a movement away from the form that has caused the issue, as Alan Hirsch would put it, we need to be reJesused.
    Studying reformation as it has happened in history we see a different marker happening here. Unlike many, I view the Church as fairly young, therefore see alot of opportunity for growth. What I see on the horizon is something we haven’t seen before, dare I say before the time of Constantine. A great read on this discussion is The Road Back to Preterism by Kurt Simmons.
    Authentic discipleship will be the mark of the next reformation, as we understand the gospel in context of the Bible, I truly believe it will change the way we live our lives.

    “As I looked I could see individuals making their way through the evil horde that was still fighting. I knew they were apostles, prophets, and elders who were being called to the council. They all seemed to walk in complete disregard of the threats and clamour of the evil horde surrounding them….”. – Rick Joyner

  33. Robyn says

    Frank, I haven’t “studied” revivals as you have, but I’ve been a member of several church bodies that were results of historical revivals. It seems to me true revivals aren’t something that are planned or sought…they happen when GOD is sought. Then, when revival occurs, everyone wants to capture it, put it in a bottle and try to recreate it Sunday after Sunday within a structure, at a designated time, over and over again, decade after decade…hence our modern, organized, business-like way of “doing church” that we have now separated ourselves from. True revival, like church should be, is organic and like GOD Himself, cannot be contained or captured…

  34. Kat Huff says

    My thought on Revolution by Revelation is that this is not a reviving of something that is dead or ill, or a reviving of the ways of humankind, but is seeing anew, and ‘knowing’ anew, and is Life anew, and is a revealing of Christ Jesus our Lord as many have never seen Him before, and is the whole Gospel, which is a Person, Jesus Christ.

  35. says

    What I’ve been speaking out for 24 years is that the next revival be a third level revival. It has tremendous contesting to it…and it may literally well be that we have to have another interim one first…that follows the previous patterns. That people find Jesus.Or that people find Jesus and an experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit…..then have to begin the long traipse as in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s progress, and as in the Prodigal Son….where they come to a proper ground zero in their Christian lives….where on a basis of zilch…no self righteousness left….they find the Father’s outstretched arms.

    I was “pretty righteous” when I came to the Lord and was filled with the Spirit during the Jesus Move…it was the Holy Spirit who guided me from there into the “all truth” that NO I WASN’T, and really thirdlevel Christianity, or the sort that occurred in Acts 2 by a now broken set of disciples, is the sort of Christianity which endures, because it is Jesus at the foundation, middle and top and nothing else.

    Remember, the disciples had “done the first and second level” thing of forgiveness of sin, and moving in signs and wonders…but they needed to know who they were, and finally they learnt.

    Now when Evan Roberts was facedown on the floor in the Welsh revival , leading meetings,this was a great start. Leaders of this next move need to live there,in that consciousness, and to lead from that place in the Spirit, whether their body position is always horizontal or not.

    Our “product” that we sell (Free of charge like in Isaiah 55) is Christ in you as you.
    Galations 2:20

    It didnt take Mary Magdalen long to learn this. To assimilate this. If she was the prostitute…she came right in at ground zero, and lived from that place from thereon.

    Unlike Peter….she WAS there on Easter morning to greet the resurrected Lord. She was already walking in the third level.
    John describes the three stages of knowing the Lord: Children, young men ,Fathers in 1 John 2. Well wherever Mary was overall in her total life with the Lord, she certainly was walking in step enough that she put all the apostles in the shade.

    And maybe this is what I am believing for. It maybe a spiritual impossibility to “create” a race of instant 3rdlevellers, or Father Stage people on Day One….but at least we can have a revival of people who at least know where they are going, of what 3rd level living looks like because they see it in us, who have had to relearn that such a thing existed, because in our day people only taught us 2 levels of Christianity. Nobody ever said to us that Jesus wanted to actually live our lives as us, through our personalities, through our uniqueness.
    In our day it was still trying ever so hard,
    it was still being a spiritual schizophrenic:great in meetings, but a devil outside. Being in effect 2 people. Condemned to walk around with ball and chain of the Old Man.

    Let it be a revival of the proper Presence of God
    But a proper theology of what Jesus has actually done for us.

  36. Michael Miano says

    <—called as a "reformer" and have already put my hand to the plow. My book will be published in 4 weeks dealing with "the emerging reformation" and I am regularly a guest on Hairy Ticks Variety Show on weekday mornings speaking about this topic. Frank Viola thanks for all the awesome insights you offer. Would love to discuss these things with you sometime.

    We can clearly see the rise in the minds of this generation that want more out of the Gospel, or as I have heard Frank speak on "the deeper things of God". Within the Fulfilled Eschatology groups, charismatic groups, emergent/missional groups, we all see it. Consider every Christian book you have read in the past 20 years, they all speak of something greater!

  37. vineman says

    the wind blows where it will . . . it’s already blowing in much of the majority world. O God, send the wind to America – a wind that brings revolution.

  38. Brian Williamson says

    I love conversations about revival and awakening to Jesus. Thanks for this.

    Couple reflections here however.

    I would really challenge your definition of revival in the classic sense you mentioned. By it’s very nature, revival has to come to someone that was once alive. The lost being awakened by the Gospel of Jesus is secondary to the primary work that happens in God’s people. Chapter and verse would be Ezekiel 37.

    I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion from Tozer however. That is spot on, but I don’t see how that connects with your understanding of revival in the classic sense. It has to start with reforming Jesus’ amazing church.

    In addition, I think how revival will look now is much more “normal” and they won’t feel as climactic. Take xxx work in NYC. I believe a Gospel awakening has happened there akin to a Martin Lloyd Jones move but it doesn’t have “hype” and “wierdness” to it. Yet thousands have been awakened to the Gospel and churches planted. As well as xxx and other places like xxx etc…many have experienced revival dynamics. xxx in Sheffield is perhaps the best example, but it started with discipleship that lead to missional activity.

    Love this, thanks for the chance to interact on this!

    • says

      Brian: The definition of revival I’m using is classic and understood historically by most Christians. What you described are certain mega churches where there are a lot of people attending. In fact, a lot of the growth in those groups is from existing Christians. Though some conversions are being made, just like in any other church. But I can point to many charismatic and pentecostal and other Arminian churches that are just as successful numbers-wise. (You chose a particular tradition instead, which is fine, that’s probably the result of who you hang out with and their influence). In fact, Barna showed that Arminian churches are growing more than Reformed churches. Even so, those aren’t cases of revival. The two instances I mentioned are what I mean by revival. Thx. for your comment. I’m interested in hearing answers to the specific questions I raised at the end of the post.

      • Brian Williamson says

        I’m tracking with you, thanks for your response.

        My answer to your question is from my post above:

        “I think how revival will look now is much more “normal” and they won’t feel as climactic.”

        Seems to me often times when revival discussions happen we over-value the climactic moments and under value the normal ongoing influence of creative structures of community and mission that are actually harvesting the fruit of outsiders to the life of Jesus being awakened, transformed and sent on mission.

        Thanks for provoking this conversation.

  39. Israel hogue says

    Frank,
    I love your thoughts on the church needing a revolution, not just a revival. I’ve always looked at it like this: if we have revival, we are bringing back to life something that is dead…the problem with that is, it died for a reason!
    I think it would be much better for the American church if we would let our old, American-culture influenced way of doing church just die! Then let’s move towards revolution.

    My question to you is what does that revolution look like to you? What are the marks of this revolution?

    Thanks for your blog, I love it.

    Israel

    • says

      Israel: Read my 7-part “beyond evangelical” series on this blog. To my mind, those are the hallmarks of it. Len Sweet and I expand some of those ideas in “Jesus Manifesto,” introducing the thought by saying that every revival and revolution has been built on a REDISCOVERY of the Lord Jesus Christ as ALL: http://www.theJesusManifesto.com

  40. says

    Frank,

    I would agree with your analysis. I have always felt that revivals by their nature have too much of the flesh present. I think this is the reason why they die out. Like you said some men tried to control it and it died out not long afterwards. It seems to me they focus too much on emotionalism. That being said, I do think that God uses them. For example, I was personally saved as a result of a revival service. The word of God was preached. I heard the gospel and I responded.

    Regarding your other points about the need to go beyond the need for revivals, I think you have valid concerns. You say “What is needed in the body of Christ is not restoration. It’s not even revival. What is needed is a revolution—a complete and radical change from top to bottom, a new sighting of Jesus Christ and His church, and a change of both mind-set and practice.” I would agree.

    The question is, if a revolution is required, then how will it come about? I think in your books you are asking the right questions. I don’t always agree with your conclusions, but I do appreciate your boldness to instigate conversations. Perhaps it will require more and more Christians to begin asking these questions in local churches. It requires courage to do so. We need to self-evaluate. We need one or more folks to boldly stand up and challenge the status quo. We need to be asking the questions you raise in your books. This is something we ought to continually do. “Semper reformanda” should be our watch word. The answers may vary by context.Once we stop asking these questions, we fall into comfortable patterns. Then we begin to stagnate.

    What I have been seeing is that more folks are discussing:

    1) Discipleship
    2) Building community
    3) Effective outreach
    4) Apologetics
    5) The use of technology
    6) Cultural influence

    I see this in the wider Christian culture, but these conversations are not happening in our local churches. I think this is where folks get frustrated. They pretty much see a top down approach. I think people want more input into the process of where the church is going.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment, Adam. I always smile when someone says “I don’t agree with your conclusions” yet isn’t interested in exploring that to test their ideas against mine to see if we genuinely disagree, and if we do, to dialogue to find the truth.

      Even so, by my lights, I’ve heard these 6 points you mention discussed, hashed-out, and taught all my Christian life. There’s nothing new in any them them from where I stand. And those tired themes aren’t going to create the revolution that’s beginning to happen in our time. Even so, nothing will change if the same mindset remains on all of these points. That’s what both Tozer and I are arguing.

      Thankfully I see this changing among a segment of the Christian population who is rediscovering God’s Eternal Purpose, the indwelling life of Christ (not as an abstract idea, but as a living, practical reality), the corporate and communal aspect of body life (not as a doctrine, but as a practice), and the centrality of Jesus Christ in a radical, staggering way.

      • says

        Thank you for your comments.

        Yeah, I think we need to do the hard work of examining the way we’re doing church. From my perspective these aren’t “tired themes”, they are areas that the church needs to seriously consider and do them well.

        Example: I’ve seen discipleship done well and poorly at different churches I have been part of. Those of us in local churches who have seen good models ought to push for the adoption of these models, not just accept the status quo.

  41. says

    Hi Frank, and a big AMEN! Thank you for sharing the history of past movements/revivals, but I agree, a “revolution” is what is needed and it is what is coming! A movement of Grace, starting on Facebook (Gracebook) and others like it, and international in it’s scope! The God we serve is not the God of “coming events!” He is in fact the Ever Present One who lives within us, He is the One willing and doing, and NOW preparing the hearts of those who have said “goodbye” to performance based dead letter religion and desire only the fresh revelation of…Only God only NOW! Bless you brother!

  42. Marc Goodman says

    To me revival starts with the Spirit of God. The Spirit (Jesus)will lead us to express His will. However the Spirit is so dormant in most Christians that there is a screaming need for mature Christians to allow the indwelling to become the dominant force in their lives. If Jesus is alive and lives in His body then he can express Himself as He desires. When will we decide that we have had enough of ourselves and let Him lead us to the promised land?

  43. David Bevan says

    For some time now I’ve wondered whether the “revolution” (which does seem to be slowly but surely happening in the Lord’s typical hidden fashion) might be the true fulfilment of what Mike Bickle believed he heard the Lord saying: “I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation.” (cf. Mike Bickle, Growing in the Prophetic).

  44. Joey Elliott says

    My local church just had a conference on Revival led by Collin Hansen, co-author of God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir. A lot of it was historical, which I personally found helpful. The biggest take away for me was pastoral, heavily influenced by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones’s talk on revival. The charge that you can’t manufacture revival, but you can live in such a way that you are deserving of it if it comes, was very convicting for me. So the personal revival concept I thought was a powerful message for the church, knowing that personal revival (not just conversion, but dramatic individual surrender to Christ and desire for holiness) is the necessary starting point for any revival that would influence for Christ church-wide, community-wide, city-wide, country-wide, and world-wide.

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