10 Ways The Church Might Change: Point 3
[In previous blogs I have outlined 10 possible changes the Church may face in the future. This is point 3 in the series: Prophetically the Bible depicts the Spirit of the Lord as having many eyes looking in all directions, like being different creatures with different functions pulling in different directions, yet in unity as one being. His Spirit is not stagnant, but always moving. In other words it is fluid. Just as water covers the earth in all directions, the Holy Spirit covers the earth globally, and it is fluid, moving in ebbs and tides. Satan is losing his domain, because every time he wins a battle and thinks he has gain territory, the Holy Spirit flows back in from all directions to retakes the land. This domination by the Holy Spirit is again God’s plan to prepare the earth for the return of the Lord.]
Personally, in the 1970’s I had been a Christian for a decade, a college graduate, and active in overseeing my local church’s Youth Activities. I featured fantastic evangelistic programs, but became frustrated in not seeing the fruit of my endeavors, thus I began a spiritual search. I knew of Jesus as my Savior, but on Memorial Day 1974, at the Mennonite’s First Conference On The Holy Spirit at the Landisville Camp Meeting Grounds I discovered Jesus as Lord, and what a change that has made in my life. I also discovered the power of the Holy Spirit to bring “life” into my Christian walk. The Logos Word, the written Word, the Bible became alive as a vibrant Rhema Word, or living Word, where I began to walk out the Christian walk in a new way with greater faith and power.
Revival always features the releasing of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ! When the Spirit moves, change naturally occurs for the Holy Spirit brings conviction, holiness, righteousness, healings, wholeness, and more. The key to the Spirit’s release, for me, was the recognition Jesus as Lord. Jesus is in control of my life, not myself. I no longer tell Him what to do, but have learned to listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and then be “obedient” to it. In the Medieval world the servant is always subject through loyalty and obedience to his master or Lord. The servant never questions his Lord, only follows and obeys. Being an American whose freedoms are built on the Bill of Rights, this was an alien concept for me to first learn. But it is essential to know that for revival to be birthed.
There have been recorded revivals throughout history such as The Wesleyan Revivals in England that came to America in the form of Camp Meetings, the Pentecostal revivals birthed out of Azusu St. in San Francisco that have spread world wide, the Latter Rains Revivals, and the Jesus Movement throughout America in the second half of the last century. These revivals have usually been regional or national, but the Charismatic Movement of the last half of the last century touched the Church world-wide. Advancement in technology also coincides with revival. Guttenberg’s Printing Press ushered in the Great Awakening and the Reformation as people could now read the Bible for themselves. With the revivals of the last century have come television, radio, and massive Evangelistic Services in huge sports venues where the gospel could now be preached to large audiences, even to a world-wide audience.
Today, local churches pray for revival to hit or fall upon their local congregation in their building. There have been reports of local revivals they have called “Blessings” like the Toronto Blessing next to the Toronto Airport or the Smithton “Blessing/Revival” in Missouri, but usually true revival happens on a much larger scale.
With today’s technology being the world-wide-web, the church has been faced to look differently at the world by the way they can now communicate. Missionaries are no longer isolated. Research can be done online rather than attending seminaries with their exclusive libraries. I believe with this technology, the next major revival will have to be world-wide. How that occurs is still a mystery to me, but not to God whom “all things are possible”.
One of the key components to world-wide revival is the recognition of the importance of the Holy Spirit who orchestrates the revival. Church government, church leadership, church orientation, nor church tradition dictates revival; only the Holy Spirit does. As several previous blogs have pointed out, the question becomes, “Can you trust the Holy Spirit?” The Church historically looks at revival as wild, beyond the bounds of institutional norms, and unpredictable. The Church loves control, norms, and predictability. To release them can be scary, but if the Church cannot trust the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who can it trust?
Bottom Line: When revival comes, will the Church be willing to release its control to the Holy Spirit? How will it embrace the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, as He manifests himself in new ways? Will it embrace change? Is it willing to allow structural change to the way it “does church”? Will it be willing to break down the barriers that have divided it? Will it accept that the “greater” Church is more important than just one’s local congregation or sect? If the Church is throughout the world, and if the Great Commission is to go to all ends of the world with the gospel, and if the Church is to be prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, then the next major revival MUST be world-wide. Lord, bring it! Holy Spirit come and lead!