With such vastly different models of church, i.e. home churches, mega churches, church plants, traditional churches, etc, there is obviously varying interpretation to how church should function and how they should connect with believers to build them up. There are certainly churches of all types that do wonderful things and do church well, but despite that, we are lacking great revival–especially in the west. My question is two-fold: why does it seem that revival tarries (to steal Ravenhill’s title), and what are the best ways a church can pour into it’s body of believers so that we can see revival: Sunday school, home groups, prayer nights, worship nights, small church, big church, worship-centered church?
Thanks for this question. I can hear in your question a passion to see God’s victory. Me too, friend.
Your question rings in my heart because a series of moves has given me opportunity to call many types of churches home- megachurch, country church, church plant, campus ministry, and a few traditional city churches. What stands out to me in the most successful churches is the emphasis on Scripture. I don’t think it’s on the number of types of activities. Those are secondary and bubble up naturally after people encounter Christ.
As you seek to effect change, I wonder what might happen if a church dug into a deep curriculum like the RZIM material Everyday Questions? Personally, I have found the book Abandoned Faith by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez helpful. This thread might get you pondering on the influence of a church, too, although it doesn’t directly relate to your question.
Hi, @kp.spencer! That’s a great question to think on. First off, though, what do you envision revival looking like? Are we talking ‘old school’ revival/religious fervour? Or is it possible that revival in the 21st-century West could look a bit different than it did even 50-60 years ago?
Coincidentally I have a similar church background having been a part of mega-church, community church, rural church, and now a church plant! All were well grounded in scripture and did some phenomenal things, but there wasn’t a sweeping movement of deep biblical commitment especially within the church. I like your idea on the curriculum as I’m trying to wade through how we as a body can best facilitate that.
That’s a great follow up question! I haven’t thought how unique a modern revival might look. I’m picturing a church, or group of churches in a community coming together as a body of believers fully bought into living the Christian life. A whole church or mass movement of people embodying more directly the Acts 2 life as opposed to the consumer mentality that seems to be the norm. Are there things we can do as individual believers or as churches that can truly inspire that kind of life?
You know, I’m just sitting here and pondering what you’ve brought up, and the thing that strikes me the most is… I don’t think it’s our job to inspire; I think our ‘job’ is to be inspired by the Spirit and follow Him faithfully into the work that He is already doing. Maybe it’s something as simple as practising hospitality in a lonely, disconnected world? In that space boundaries will be tested and life will truly meet life. It can be a vulnerable and scary thing to open oneself up to, but maybe, if we’re willing to follow God into those spaces, our churches and communities will be revived!
But don’t churches and Christians practice hospitality and other outreach practices? Or are we not doing enough? If it’s that simple, why are we seeing such a minimal Christian movement?
I would never say churches don’t do enough. Most churches I encounter are full of servant-hearted people and have a lot of amazing things going on! I just think that, as Christians, we can easily get lost in our frenzy of (good) activity. That doesn’t mean we as a church shouldn’t ever do big things; big events have their place, and have certainly been important in the history of revival. I just wonder if the answer to your initial question (What can churches do?) actually involves doing? Meaning, what if we are inadvertently squelching the Spirit by some of our manufactured doings? It’s a question worth considering. I think church leaders especially need to be in step with the Spirit and in unity with one another in moving each particular church into the corners He wants it to go.
And, actually, I would like to take away the adjective ‘simple’ that I put in front of ‘practising hospitality’…because it is not necessarily a simple thing to do! It’s simple in theory, but it is notoriously difficult in practice!
I don’t know that my answer was particularly helpful, but I was hoping to get some discussion started in folks’ feeds here since your question kinda flew under the radar.
When I get discouraged, I think to a bit of my own life and how God was faithful when I felt quite abandoned. As a kid, I would get so angry at my home church for not having activities- there was nothing to invite my friends to. However, as I look back on my own faith during that time, I didnt have any confidence in the Gospel. I actually figured it wasnt true and so I thought I had to focus on social activities to save the church. When I really got into apologetics and discovered how rich the Gospel truly is, everything changed. It felt like I had flipped a light switch.
I still get really discouraged sometimes, but I keep reminding myself the power lies in Christ and the Holy Spirit, never in my own efforts. If someone encounters Christ in all of his glorious love, they will never be the same. They may have to make a decision, but they will never be the same. That power will never go away, no matter how much of a minority Christian’s may one day become. We have the Gospel and Christ and the Holy Spirit on our side, and that will never vanish.
Another resource you may find helpful is Vince Vitale’s talk “The Art of Conversation.” It kind of ties into what @KMac was saying about how hospitality may spark opportunities for witnessing and growing together.
That’s a great point. We as churches certainly invest a lot in activity, well-intentioned for sure, but often times it’s surface level. I’m a big advocate for the spiritual disciplines (like hospitality, along with solitude, fasting, silence, prayer, etc), and I think most Christians don’t know how to get inwardly connected with God to bring about that revival.
Such a true statement about how we seem to rely on church for evangelism instead of our own hearts to share the gold mine that is the gospel. A mentor of mine used to say that Jesus should always be enough, because He Is!
I’ll check out Vince’s message. Thanks!