An honest look at what stops revival from happening
“I wish that would happen here!”
These are the words of Christians all over the US this week after seeing a revival take place at Asbury University in Kentucky.
After their mandatory chapel service ended last Wednesday, students felt the need to keep praying, to keep singing, to stay longer in the presence of God.
It’s been 50 years since something like this happened at Asbury… and it’s garnering national attention.
Meanwhile, American Christendom is getting excited, maybe even envious about it.
Why can’t it happen at your church?
First of all, in reality, it could.
I think many of us assume that these things happen because God plays a game of celestial roulette and then determines where He is going to “show up” and bless with His presence.
That’s not exactly concurrent with what we see in scripture. As we look at the whole of scripture, what we see is that God’s presence is everywhere, and there is no escaping it. We see that God wants all people to come to repentance. We see that His temple is the very lives of the people that worship Him. So that presence of God is available to all of us. We also see that when we repent of our sins, seek His face, call on His name, He answers us. Again, looking at the whole of scripture, the requirement for this is “when we seek Him with all our heart.”
So why DOESN’T it happen at your church?
Let’s list some reasons.
- You are hungry for the wrong things.
It’s 12:30. Your stomach is growling. The worship leader just started the bridge ONE MORE TIME. Your kids are getting antsy. Kickoff for the game is starting soon. Your roast is in the crockpot and you don’t want it to overcook….
The recipe for this revival in Asbury was that some college kids decided that they wanted to spend more time in prayer in the presence of God. They didn’t let the other things get in the way. And then some of them that did need to leave, brought back food or coffee or pillows, to help support what was happening.
- You expect that pastor to do it.
You keep asking your pastor and church leaders to do something like this, but they just won’t do it…
The pastor’s job is to equip the saints for works of service. The work is ALL OF OUR WORK. You don’t get to have a vision for something and then give it to someone else to do.
At Asbury, this revival wasn’t planned. Nobody said, “Hey, stay after and pray for the next week non-stop.” People just prayed, sang, and spent time in the presence of God. Most of what’s happening there is separate from “staff”…. It’s the students just committed to spending time in prayer and worship.
I also want to make it clear – let’s say the church building needed to be closed… that doesn’t and shouldn’t stop a revival. These folks in Kentucky are worshiping in the chapel, but they could leave and go out and still be in the presence of God. (In fact, I think that is the GOAL of revival… to spread it out into the world.)
- Your sin gets in the way.
You want God to send you revival. But you also want to keep holding on to your pet sin.
Maybe you don’t want to hold onto it – but you keep holding onto it because you refuse to be broken over it – to confess it to another person.
Sin separates us from God. Can God move despite our sin? Sure. But don’t you think it’s a bit ridiculous to expect Him to?
- You want it done YOUR WAY
You want revival. And you want it now. And you want it with plenty of music, but not THOSE songs. And we better make sure we have the good coffee. And someone please make sure LouAnne is turned down on the soundboard, because she sounds horrible. We’ve always done it this way, and it’s the right way to do it… And somebody better open up the nursery and watch those kids. Etc. etc. etc….
So much of the personal preferences and the things we do in our american church services we do because we’ve always done them. We have made so many things “sacred” because it’s all we have known of church. If we look at the church in Acts- they set the model for us. And it was pretty simple. Somewhere along the way, we have added a LOT of things to what the original church was meant to be. And we’ve gotten attached to them. Honestly, we’ve built a lot of golden calves in our church experience.
What if the state of REVIVAL was not ever meant to be something “special”… but was rather the very intention of Jesus when He founded the church?
What if it’s not that God isn’t pouring out His spirit everywhere on all people trying to revive His church, but rather, He is pouring it out, and we’ve so comfortable in our buildings and under our umbrellas that we refuse to see it? What if we’re actually complaining about the revival rain that God is sending to us because it’s inconvenient, or doesn’t look like what we WANT it to look like?
Do you want to see a revival like this?
Then start living like you want to see it. Be the one that gets on their knees and prays at the altar, or in your seat, or in the parking lot, or your living room.
Be the one who repents of your sins, confessing that to your brothers and sisters and to God.
Be the one that sings loudly, with hands raised and eyes fixed on the King of Kings.
Do the things God says to do. Love the people God says to love. Preach the gospel. Make disciples and teach them to live the way Jesus wants them to.
The recipe is simple. It’s all the other stuff that gets in the way.