True revival is something that most Christians long for, but few ever see. In fact, it may be that a large percentage don’t even know exactly what it is. If you were to go around and ask a sample of Christians to give a definition of revival, most would probably stumble around trying to give a good answer. A revival is a special work of God where we see him mightily working in the world to accomplish the purpose of his kingdom. Most only think of revival as some kind of emotional experience – those special high energy feelings of closeness to God. But feelings within Christians without a visible change in the lives of non-Christians out in the world is not real revival. True revival results when people’s lives are changed over the long haul and society is affected by it.
A pervasive, long-term spiritual impact by Christians on the world will not happen by attempting quick-fixes (revival meetings, social projects, etc.). It will require extensive and conscientious “grunt work” by believers in the churches of a community. It will also not be accomplished if the believers in our churches are depending on the clergy to do most of the heavy lifting. True revival only happens when the “person in the pew” is front and center.
In truth, one of the greatest problems hindering revival does relate to the conception people have of what it actually is. Wrong thinking leads to wrong actions and results. If the thinking about revival is wrong, believers will be looking to the wrong solutions to facilitate its happening. So, just where should we start in conceiving of revival?
Common (and wrong) View of Revival
Many people view revival like a balloon. A balloon just lays there until someone picks it up and blows it full of air. At that point, when the person lets the balloon go, it flies around wildly for a period of time – until it runs out of air. Then it just sits around until someone picks it up and blows it full of air again.
Many people think of the church as that balloon. They just hang around waiting for God to blow his spirit on them so they will have impetus to energetically do his work. This kind of thinking looks almost strictly to emotion to determine when to actively serve God. With this kind of thinking, Christians go out and share the good news only when they “feel” God’s power and presence. When they don’t “feel” him, they sit around and pray for him to make them feel it again.
The reason this is so bad is that it works contrary to God’s stated desire and his revealed ways. God is present and actively working in us, and in the world, regardless of how we may feel at any given moment. We are called to serve him actively and energetically no matter how we feel.
Necessary New Paradigm for Revival
God’s work in the world is more like the operation of a car. It is a God/man partnership. God is responsible for the fuel and the driving instructions. We are responsible for being obedient in driving according to his purposes.
God has revealed his will in his revelation. He has also provided his Spirit who dwells in our bodies on a continual basis. His Spirit provides us with both power and instructions on how to live. We are to “drive his car” to accomplish his purpose every day, no matter the circumstances and no matter how we feel.
How to Get on Track for Revival
One of the struggles average Christians have regarding their advancement in the faith relates to their Christian education. Of course, there are notable exceptions, but most lack an in-depth understanding of their faith and are weak in the skills which help one effectively do the work of God. Much of this has to do with a wrong understanding of the role of individual Christians. Rather than grasp their legitimate responsibility, all too many look to the clergy (the professionals) to do the work of ministry. As such, they are satisfied to hire trained professionals to work in their field while they watch them do the work.
But the Biblical model is different. The Bible teaches that the work of the professional minister is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-13). That means that the main ministers are the people in the pews. The Biblical mandate for the professional clergy is to equip the believers who are under their influence in ways which help them do their calling. Every believer is called into full time Christian ministry. It is just that most are to do their ministry in a secular vocation.
But for this to become a reality, the person in the pew must be equipped to do the work. For most Christians this simply isn’t happening. Sunday school classes do not provide this kind of equipping.
But even if there is an equipping system in place, there must also be a methodology to promote pervasive and sustained revival within the community. There are four things that need to happen.
1. It Begins with Education.
The problem in the church related to insufficient knowledge of the Christian faith is not new to modern times. In fact, a great deal of what inspired many of the writings of the New Testament were problems related to a lack of knowledge about the Christian faith in the churches in the first century. Just look at some of the issues the apostle Paul dealt with in his epistles. There is a knowledge base that Christians must master if they intend to serve God faithfully.
Believers must have a solid theological foundation – not just an emotional one. The problem is that it is not possible for most average Christians to attend Bible school or seminary. As such, there must be some other means by which believers are able get this training. This kind of foundation can be gained in special schools and classes, but is most easily provided in the local church.
There are two categories where this education must focus and two key points within each one.
1. Acquiring a Biblical Mindset
The first category relates to our mindset. Within this category there are two key areas where this kind of education must be focused.
The first relates to the process of actually living life in relationship with God. The God of the Bible is a God of holiness. It is essential for Christians to fully understand what that means and how it is to be lived out in daily life.
The second key area relates to our concept of ministry. Ministry is not just the domain of the professional minister. Every believer is called into full time Christian ministry. It is just that most are called to do their ministry from the platform of a secular profession. This sense of calling among rank and file Christians is vital if the Christian faith is to be actively promoted in the world.
2. Christian Skills
The second category involves Christian skills. Within this category are also two skill sets which Christians must master. Most faithful Christians will acknowledge the necessity of both of these, but are woefully untrained in either.
The first skill set within this category relates to actively and continually engaging our personal relationship with God. We tend to know a certain amount about God, but we must go a step beyond that and become skilled at living daily life in his presence.
The second skill set regards sharing our faith. We live in a world which is very complex regarding the numbers and kinds of belief systems we must interact with. We must understand how to share the gospel with these various people in ways that make sense to them. This often requires a different way of witnessing than the traditional approach.
It is not required that one get special training to do either of these activities. Special training is necessary, however, if we wish to become good at them. Sustained revival will only happen when a large number of Christians are proficient in these skills and are using them continually in daily life.
2. The Effort Must Be Engaged at a Grass Roots Level.
It is not enough for pastors and other professional ministers to be educated and excited about the Christian faith. Revival is a function of the entire body of Christ. If the people in the pew are not the impetus for a revival movement, then it simply will not happen. The role of the leadership is to equip the body of Christ for ministry. There are not enough church leaders with enough personal contacts in the world for them to be effective in generating a revival movement.
3. The Effort Must Be Systematic and Long-term.
A short term emotional high is not true revival. In true revival, what we are being revived to is fellowship with God. Real fellowship is not something that happens just when we are emotionally charged. It is needs to be continuous throughout our entire lives – regardless of feelings. Thus, every generation must be trained with both the knowledge and skills of the Christian faith. A plan must be put in place, and implemented, which provides a foundation for growth and active service.
4. The Effort Must Be Planned.
Revival doesn’t “just happen.” It emerges when God’s people get serious about their personal ongoing fellowship with him and put forth the effort to continually grow in him. This kind of long term effort requires planning. Not that we plan God’s work, but we must have an intentional plan for equipping ourselves and implementing what he has called us to.
Building Towards Revival
It is one thing for a single church to develop a revival mentality and a plan to move it forward. It is something altogether different to develop that for an entire community. There must be some kind of coordination between churches and between denominations.
I believe that God has uniquely positioned and equipped MarketFaith Ministries to serve in that capacity. Our staff has a background in pastoral leadership, in church planting, and in domestic and international missionary work. Our organizational structure is also designed to facilitate that kind of work.
Specifically, we are able to:
1. Develop a localized plan to facilitate a wide ranging grass roots revival effort.
2. Come to individual churches to explain the basics and inspire church members to get on board.
3. Provide the specific kinds of training needed to equip believers for their calling in Christian ministry. This can be done in individual churches and in larger settings.
4. Provide leadership training so church members can become trainers within their own churches.
5. Serve to promote a Grass Roots Revival Project to increasing numbers of churches.
If this is something you believe is worth exploring, you are invited to contact MarketFaith Ministries, to discuss the possibilities. We would love to partner with you to facilitate a revival movement in your area.
© 2011 Freddy Davis