Saturday, June 17, 2006

Revival, part 2

Last week I attended meetings of a sort that are slowly, but surely fading away. It's called a Revival Meeting. This one was poorly attended, based on what I know of the church where it was held. I don't plan to get into all the potential reasons for the disappearance of such a thing. But I think this needs to be contemplated.

There are those who would oppose them for theological reasons. In Jonathan Edwards' day they opposed them, too. Edwards and others ignored their protests. God rewarded their faithfulness.

Yet, revival meetings are now a thing of the past. I still recall when meetings lasted all week long. In my lifetime, they moved to lasting just 4 nights. Now a weekend is a long meeting. One evangelist told me he gets more invitations to "One Night Revivals" than ever before. How, pray tell, do you have one night revivals? Doesn't that sound contradictory to you? Or perhaps its very descriptive. After all, I have seen moves of God that lasted all of 3 hours--one night. After that, all was as it was before, if not worse.

No, I believe that the chief reason for the disappearance of the revival meeting in North America has more to do with our misguided sense of practicality over our theological convictions. If it is a theological conviction on your part, may God teach you otherwise!

By practicality, I mean that such meetings are no longer practical for us. It is an inconvenience for us; and we all know that making time for a revival meeting would mean sacrificing something else. I only have to look at America's spending habits to know we are not real keen on sacrifice. For example, I went to a popular sporting goods store the other week. They sell boats, guns, fishing gear, clothing, and all the things one needs to be an outdoorsman. Some of those boats sold for more than 40 thousand dollars. [I could use 40 grand. It would go a long ways to funding our ministries and the men and women being called to work with me in South America.] If a man can afford it and has the discretionary income to buy it, more power to him. But there are men and women who will go to the bank, take out a loan, buy a boat and trailer, a new truck, and all the gear they need to go "enjoy" a few hours on a lake front. They will create a level of indebtedness that causes them to sacrifice on the altar of pleasure, all the while claiming there is no time (or money) for a revival meeting. Behold your god, America!

We have traded the Living God for the no-gods of pleasure, practicality, and possessions. And that, to me, is one reason that the revival meetings of old are no longer a thing to be attended.

Americans think they are doing okay with God. So did Israel just before God took them to Babylon. While the revival meeting is not, in and of itself, the answer to revival, it does give us a chance to be revived. I believe America would do well to spend some corporate time together, seeking God's face, turning from their wicked ways, and begging God for forgiveness. That, after all, was the original intent of the revival meeting.

May God send a great revival!

4 comments:

GuyMuse said...

One thought I have had about revivals is that God seems to have used revivals much more in the past. Today He seems to be using church planting movements. Both are remarkable expressions of his power and love for mankind to redeem man back to Himself. Could it be that CPM are his way today of sending spiritual renewal to vast numbers of people?

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Guy,

I understand the principles you are sharing. One thing that I believe gets in the way of a movement of God is our imitation of one another. The revival meeting has been a powerful tool, we all agree. On the one hand, we need to look seriously at the need for it in a local church. I wonder sometimes, though, if we are not guilty of imitating the "successful" (I don't like that word, but don't have a ready substitute) churches--those who have had great revival meetings.

By the same token, the church planting movement you speak of is a powerful thing. Yet, I am convinced that if I merely imitate your "success" in Guayaquil, I will fail in my endeavors elsewhere in South America, just as North American churches struggle in their weak-hearted efforts to imitate the successful revivals.

The answer to me, to get to the point of all this, is for all of us to seek God's face before we plan our strategies for growth. At the same time, in North America, to discard the old-fashioned revival meeting as just that--old, is to rule out a powerful means to true revival in a church.

Baptistfundi said...

Kevin,

As a relatively new Baptist (10yrs) I have been to a few of these revival meetings and have never seen revival. Good preaching yes, a few people coming to the Lord, yes (praise the Lord), but true revival in the Jonathan Edwards tradition? No.

Could it be that the average church goer just doesn't recognize their sin anymore? Think about it, 50 years ago people knew what sin was. Using the Lord's name in vain was a huge sin. Pornography? Almost unheard of. Pre-marital sex, drunkenness, the list goes on and on. These behaviors are almost normal and accepted practice now (unfortunately, even in the church). All you have to do is turn on regular TV and the boundaries of decency are being pushed skyward.

We are slowly but surely being inoculated to sin. Satan? Without a true recognition of our sinfulness there is no revival.

Just my take.

Rick Martinez

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Fundi,

You know, I agree. We are dulled to sin. We are hardened to it. That is a major problem that America has failed to settle.

Still and again, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. If we sit under the word long enough, I believe it will make a difference in many true believers' lives.