Post-Charismatic: Part 2 – Revival

Post-Charismatic: Part 2 – Revival

Many Charismatics believe that if we can just pray enough we gain enough ‘spiritual authority’ we can ‘open heaven’ and bring revival. Those with prophetic gifts encouraged the church with insights about how the mighty move of God was going to begin. It seemed like each city and each group had a special anointing and a strategic place in God’s last day master plan. Revival was always just around the corner. There seems to be this unspoken assumption that when the power of God comes down people would just immediately flock in to our church buildings. This would happen even though these people wouldn’t know anyone in the church or have any normal reason to show up.

Pentecost is the one event in written about in the New Testament that could be considered a revival. As the apostles spread out to the known world they planted churches and accomplished their mission but no “revivals” are reported. This happened despite the fact that they probably had lots of “spiritual authority”. I have great esteem for the leaders and movements that spawned revival in the past. However these events only occurred in nominally Christian societies. There had to be something left to revive.

As much of the western world shifts from being nominally Christian to post-Christian I wonder whether revival is something to pursue. Is there much left to revive? If we pursue spiritual blessing without mission is the end result questionable movements like the Toronto Blessing or Pensacola?

In some ways I believe the pursuit of revival has become an idol in the church. It isn’t about God; it is about achieving the greatest hallmark of Christian success. If we expect God to empower us as a people we can’t be motivated by our own religious success.

If there is going to be any powerful move of God it will happen through people who seek no fame, no status, no money, and no notion of religious success. It will happen through people that are more concerned about the kingdom than their own personal ministry. It will happen through people who see ministry primarily as a calling rather than a career. It will not happen through people who think Godliness is a means to financial gain. It will not be about large crowds. It is will be about caring for and respecting each individual person. It will happen through people who are willing to lie down their rigid assumptions of how church is supposed to work. They will respect the signposts of biblical orthodoxy and listen to scripture rather than using scripture to bolster their assumptions. They will build structures, but they will be light and flexible and will fit around what God is doing.

  1. #1 by Dave King on April 17, 2005 - 5:45 pm


  2. #2 by Linea on April 17, 2005 - 6:32 pm

    Yes, yes, yes!

  3. #3 by ScottB on April 17, 2005 - 9:37 pm

    As a post-charismatic myself, I think what you’ve written is spot-on. Unfortunately, in the contexts in which I was involved, “revival” was often the excuse (my word) given for why we didn’t do more of practical benefit to the community. All of that messy stuff would be taken care of by praying for revival! It was tragically circular. From that perspective, I’d agree with your assessment of revival sometimes becoming an idol possibly in more ways than you’d intended it.

  4. #4 by Roger N Overton on April 18, 2005 - 2:23 pm

    Great posts. I think part of what’s fed this mentality is the ever popular “altar call”- Come receive Jesus today, He’ll make your life better. Then come back for next year’s crusade. I often wonder how many people who show up at an altar call (especially at events like Harvest Crusade or Billy Graham) actually have their lives changed by Christ and end up in a local church community.

  5. #5 by Marc Vandersluys on April 19, 2005 - 10:44 am

    This may sound like a really stupid question, but when you say “structures”, do you mean it literally (as in buildings) or in the sense of organization(s)?

  6. #6 by Leighton Tebay on April 19, 2005 - 10:51 am

    I mean some form of organization.

  7. #7 by Matt Stobe on April 24, 2005 - 5:12 am

    Yes. I wonder whether revival is something to pursue also. What are we seeking to revive? Christendom? I am currently reading book called “Gospel-Driven Church” by Ian Stackhouse that asks this very question. I found myself thinking the other night, “Why pray for revival, isn’t that setting our sights too low? Why not start praying for the resurrection of the dead, for thy Kingdom come?”

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