Are you imaging tents,old fashioned fire and brimstone preachers, while “When the Saints Go Marching In”? Revival services have disappeared from the mainstream. My wife will talk about the revivals she had at her church growing up. Last year I got a flyer about a local revival and I looked at the flyer with skepticism. What is it that draws such apathy and reluctance? Could it be simply that we are Presbyterians and think those that do it are “other churches”? Maybe or maybe it could be that we don’t know much about them.
This past month I have been preaching through a series that originally was focused upon the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit moves us. That was MY plan… what actually what has happened is more than that. Our church for awhile has been feeling the tug that we need to make a impact in our community. Not one in voice, but one in our actions. While many are getting this nudge, moving ourselves out from the pews has become difficult. We, along with many Christians have become too comfortable with our faith. Stepping out is something that other people do, because it makes us uncomfortable and we don’t want to be labeled as “one of them”. Turning the corner to a much more outreach based church has not happened as fast as we have wanted. It is a work in progress.
It was in the planning and discerning process for this month that I began to hear a theme of “revival”. I had my first sermon beginning to be sketched out and realized that I needed to go further. It was on Ezekiel 37 and the Valley of Dry Bones. The question of how far could I really push the idea of renewal was constantly on my head, besides how much could I really teach in one Sunday? While that lesson came to being, the second one on John 15 and how we are to be transformed developed. I was beginning to sense a theme, AND I felt that our church was called to spend ernest time in prayer. Being the Associate Pastor while the Senior Pastor was gone, I couldn’t simply call for a season of prayer. So I took it a bit lightly, but the nudge and prodding remained. The anxiety level at our church was high due to the Boston explosions as well some serious medical issues with some core church members. I did call the church to prayer and over 30 members showed up! Wow. Tonight I continue to plan for this Sunday’s sermon, which has a deep revival theme. For all the preaching I do on it Sunday my words alone will not start a revival. It starts when we as followers of faith and when we the church long for something more to the extent that we are willing to submit ourselves.
Our churches need a revival. Not one with tents and everything having a “revival” theme. But a revival where we turn with brokenness to God. Our church longs to help the community, and that is great. Before we can go out into the community we must ourselves get on our knees and ask God to move. We need God to move within us, to move us from complacency to following God’s will. Revival first starts within us before it can even reach the house across the street. God will not use the “frozen chosen” with barely a heart beat to transform the world. The ones that are used are the ones with the heartbeat of God.
Tonight I pray for revival within our community, region, nation, and the world. But it must start with me.