Are you working on your revival benefits preservation system?

God has a simple plan for preserving the benefits of the coming revival

If you have ever lived in an arid or semi-arid climate, you know how precious water is. Or maybe you don’t! What I mean by that remark is that in some of the drier regions of our country, fountains, water parks, and green golf courses seem to abound. But such use of a seeming abundance of water is, to a great degree, made possible by the preservation of the water they do have. When the rains come, a system of waterways and reservoirs retain water for future use.

Revival can be much like that rain. It doesn’t happen all the time. Revival is not a continuous state, as much as some people like to claim it is. Revival is a season of refreshing, an outpouring of God’s Spirit that has a fairly definite beginning and end. The results of revival don’t have to be temporary, though. The aftereffects of revival can actually be more powerful than the effects experienced in the revival itself! I’ll have to write more on that dynamic in a later post. The point I’m emphasizing, though, is that there must be some reservoir for the aftereffects to be available post revival. Fortunately, we don’t have to fret over what the reservoir might be, or try to come up with an elaborate scheme for revival benefit preservation.

God’s simple plan for preserving the benefits of revival is this: the local church. In that sense, my hope for a transformation of our society does not rest solely on a move of God that will come and go, but on the local church that will continue to serve God’s purposes after a spiritual awakening. My plea to you is this: devote yourself to the building of this reservoir so that it will be ready for what God is preparing to do! If we don’t devote ourselves to God’s church, there really is no long-term hope for our land.

The history of revival bears this out. John Wesley, one of the greatest revivalists of Christian history, made this observation:

I was more convinced than ever, that the preaching like an Apostle, without joining together those that are awakened, and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer. How much preaching there has been for these twenty years all over Pembrokeshire! But no regular societies, no discipline, no order or connection; and the consequence is, that nine in ten of the once-awakened are now faster asleep than ever.

Twenty years of meetings, with the great preaching and revival manifestations that accompanied the Wesleyan revival, were not enough for a lasting impact! Of course, the “societies” and “order or connection” are the work of the local church. And without this work of basic discipleship, people who are revived can actually end up falling into a deeper sleep and be more of a target for the enemy than before revival. No wonder the devil is working so hard in our time to cause us to downplay the role of the local church in our lives. In fact, a big mistake I made in my previous experience of revival was to underestimate the importance of something as “normal” as the local church.

This is no time to be less devoted to our local church than Christians were just ten years ago. What a tragedy that the average “regular” church attendee attends less and less often! The goal is not, however, church attendance only; the goal is that we work together to reach more and more people with the Good News of Jesus for the glory of God. Let’s work to make sure our reservoirs, God’s revival benefits preservation system, are in top shape. The rains of revival are coming.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Are you working on your revival benefits preservation system?

  1. I completely and totally agree. It is IMPOSSIBLE to overstate the importance of the local church.

    However, I must observe that, although I deeply love American evangelicalism (in contrast to the emergents, whose common denominator seems to be that they hate it with a passion), the local church in American evangelicalism is an absurd mess. There is no systematic instruction, no systematic indoctrination, virtually no discipleship to speak of. We just basically hope that people will become disciples by osmosis, by being around other Christians. My own experience is that in order to become a disciple you probably need a very high level of inner motivation which typically has to come from suffering.

    Somehow we got the idea that because we’re not high church, we don’t need to have catechism like the high church folks. We don’t need to be systematic, we imagine. Our lack of discipleship leads to the situation where evangelicals are the most fertile recruiting ground for the Mormon cultists, and we’re probably losing more than a few to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Every pastor every year preaches his Mother’s Day sermon, his Father’s Day sermon, his Christmas sermon, his Thanksgiving sermon, his forgiveness sermons, his encouragement sermons, his Prodigal Son sermon, a salvation sermon or two. But I think it would be easy for a new convert to attend church services faithfully for 10 years in almost all of our churches without becoming grounded in evangelical Christianity, doctrine and practice. (I’ve seen survey data suggesting that’s exactly what’s happening.) I think part of the problem is that, in contradiction to the Pastoral Epistles, few American pastors teach. They only preach, which has a lesser emphasis in those epistles. Teaching is relegated to Sunday School, and it’s well understood that Sunday School is optional. We dare not place upon the majority of our adherents the expectation that they get up an hour earlier on Sunday to partake of teaching.

    We don’t need to become emergents; we don’t need an orgy of self-hatred. We don’t need to go liturgical. But we do need to face up to the fact that the way we typically do church in American evangelicalism isn’t working, and it needs to be overhauled. Going back to the scripture should provide the way. Just one example: when we broke with the high church, we threw out the lectionary. Why, in view of the clear teaching of I Timothy 4:13a? (I like Joel Osteen, but I’m disturbed that he has even gone farther and dispensed with reading from the Bible during his sermons; he only alludes to it fleetingly–and all too often inaccurately–in his rapid-fire delivery.) The mess is not the fault of anybody in particular. We were all raised with a hyper-fragmented and anything-but-systematic evangelicalism, and it seems normal because it’s all we’ve ever known.

    Pardon my rant. I’ve never been to your thriving church, so it obviously is no part of the inspiration of my commentary. You may well be even more grieved over these things than I am. Have a good weekend!