Change is not easy. However, I enjoyed change management and built a 40-year career on disruption and managing change in healthcare. But the change we need now is different. This is change with an eternal purpose. God the Father moved to make a change in me and to revive my Spirit toward Him. A personal revival experience. Thankfully, it did not take a lengthy Mt. Horeb walk (see previous post). However, He is still working on me; it is, after all, a journey. If you earnestly seek Him, I believe the same will happen to you.
The word revival has made a resurgence in the evangelical world as of late. It has been used to explain many things we are observing. Revival, however, is only a part of what God is calling leaders in His church or Ekklesia to do. Side note here: the Ekklesia is not the four walls of a church but represents the whole body of the church, wherever it happens to be. The Western, empirical church has attempted to force the Ekklesia into the four walls of the building we visit once a week to “gather” with other believers. Not so; the church is so much more. Revival can start the change which holds eternal consequences. God has shown me that there are phases to revival, and historical revivals have passed through these phases with differing degrees of success.
The definition of revival from Noah Webster (1828) is the return or recall to activity from a state of languor. Today’s Ekklesia (church) has definitely been in a state of languor. But, for a revival to be initiated, an awakening must first take place. This awakening can happen within a church, leading to a reinvigoration of spiritual matters, aka., revival. Or, outside the church body, organically initiated by the Holy Spirit as an awakening of new followers of Christ.
It is said that America has gone through two “great awakenings.” The first was led by such notables as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield prior to the American Revolution, and the second was led by Finny, McGready, and Stone et al., around the turn of the 18th to the 19th century, lasting to just before the American Civil War. These were both awakenings and revivals as they reached outside and into the church. These movements can be precipitated by an economic downturn, war, and moral collapse, but whatever the catalyst, it is allowed by God. In the scripture, we see many revivals of the nation of Israel after war, famine, and captivity. The lesson is that we do not learn so God has to chasten us back to His Kingdom.
Does America have another awakening/revival left in her? The Jesus movement in the late 60s’ and early 70s, along with the recent events at Ashbury, Lee, and Auburn (among others), would seem to point out that God hasn’t left us and is still willing to work within us. Perhaps it is the clarion call from Amos to “Seek me and live” (5:4) and to “Seek the Lord and live.” (5:6). This awakening and subsequent revival need leaders who understand they are in their role only by the grace of God. It is not a denominational movement or one led by a single person. This revival/awakening must focus on God first and always.
The job of a leader in this season is to get out of the way and let it grow through whomever God has anointed as a teacher, evangelist, and worshiper. The role of the leader then becomes the most important phase of revival, discipleship.
Recently, I have participated in two extraordinary evangelistic outreaches and have engaged with a campus-based ministry focused on outreach and evangelism. Both of these ministries, while focused on evangelism, put equal, if not more, weight on the discipleship phase of this awakening/revival. Getting someone to the Cross is not enough; equipping them to live with Christ is of great importance. The leader’s engagement of time, resources, experiences, and mentoring will help to keep our new and returning brothers and sisters focused. We, as leaders in this phase, are helping to equip these brothers and sisters with the extra oil—see prior post—to keep them strong when culture attacks.
The key takeaways from this post are that leadership during revival is patient; it waits on God. Leadership may require an internal change/revival of spirit, so let God have His way in His time. Leadership also requires action on your part in the form of discipleship, aka., mentoring. This has a lasting impact on His Kingdom.