(Photo by Lanes Simmons /Council Today)
I have always thought that any time is a good time for revival but especially hard times which seem to get the attention of more folks and prepare them to seek God in a more serious way.
Pastor Rick Warren in addressing the Assemblies of God (Link NLA)(AG) biennial General Council last week observed:
“Bad times are good times for churches because people will turn to the Lord when things are going bad. When things are going great they ignore God.”
Then he proceeded to present recent evidence of revival in his home church in Lake Forest, California:
“He said revival hit his congregation in April, when the church saw 1,600 people come to Christ in that month alone. He said more than 1,000 people were baptized, and 2,600 people participated in the church’s monthly membership class, which typically draws 100 people.”
That is tremendous growth for a mega church with a steady membership that had leveled off in recent years.
I can tell you from first hand experience, since I live in Lake Forest, that this area has been experiencing a severe recession with unemployment way over 10%. In my own family, 3 of my adult children had lost their jobs early in the year and another had lost a job but found another at 1/2 what he was making before. From January to July we had 5 extra people living in our home because of the downturn and still have three including two grandchildren.
In his address, Pastor Rick noted:
“We have the potential, if we are ready, to see genuine spiritual revival in our local churches—if we are prepared for it”
He cited Exodus 4 where Moses met God in the burning bush and the Lord told him to lay down his staff—the symbol of his authority and pick it up again renewed:
“When God told Moses to lay down his staff, He was saying, ‘I want you to lay down your influence, your identity and your income. When you pick it back up, it’s Mine,’” Warren said, noting that after that point, Moses’ staff was called the rod of God.
“God said, ‘If you give it to Me, I will make it come alive.”
Later, Pastor Rick listed 5 different stages that historical revivals usually go through:
1. personal renewal;
2. relational revival marked by repentance and reconciliation;
3. a renewal of vision that causes ministries to rediscover their purpose;
4. structural renewal to accommodate growth; and
5. cultural renewal, which happens as a result of the other phases.
He noted that revivals that stop with personal and relational renewal usually fizzle out. His address culminated with this important message for leaders:
“Nothing matters more” than reaching people with the gospel message.”
“If you want the blessing of God on your life, if you want the anointing of God on your life, if you want the power of God on your life, you must care about what God cares about most.”
“What does God care about most? It ain’t politics. It isn’t changing American culture. It’s He wants His lost children found.”
Amen, Pastor Rick.