I know that some of the English professors in my reading audience may have trouble with “ain’t” In this case, it just seemed to fit. We need to know what revival “ain’t!” Perhaps it is my southern heritage, but that seems to carry more weight than, “what revival isn’t.”
One difficulty is a misconceptions of what revival looks like, who it comes to and how it comes. It’s time to think about the possible misconceptions and incorrect assumptions regarding this thing called revival.
- Revival comes where there is a preacher who is a revivalist or a great orator.
- Revival comes where a leader has great charisma.
- To experience revival you must be a driven “Type A” personalities.
- Revival is a matter of luck or more accurately – lack of revival is because I don’t get the breaks.
- Revival is the same as church growth.
- Revival is the same as evangelism.
- Revival comes to leaders who have multiple talents and gifts.
- Revival thrusts the pastor/evangelist/church into the spotlight.
All 8 of those statements are dead wrong! Every positive thing mentioned can be a benefit – but equally as many who have one or more of the 8 have not accomplished anything meaningful.
What if local church revival were more correctly defined and clarified? Imagine it as something that is no longer some far-fetched unattainable accomplishment. What if were actually defined as something that can happen where you are, to you, with the gifts and abilities you have!
Revival is in your reach!
My Dad’s father, Grandpa Benny had a small orchard of plum trees behind their place. I can remember as a little boy wanting to pick plums. The plums were beyond my reach. All I could do was watch someone else pick fruit; that is until Grandpa Benny would pull one of the supple limbs of the plum tree down where I could reach the plums for myself.
Suddenly, what had been out of reach was accessible. I can have this . . . it is within my reach.
Some might have you think (that liar, the devil for sure) the plums of revival are out of your reach! Since you don’t have the long arms of oratory, talent, charisma or heritage to put the “plum of revival” within your reach, you cannot have it.
I want to pull the limbs of revival down into your reach. Part of putting revival within your reach is introducing you to people you may have never heard of who have had and are having revival. The idea here should be: if this can happen to that person, who is a lot like me, then it can happen to me, through me and in me! I’ll just give you a list of names, places and the barest item of celebration:
Doug Belgard in Centerpoint, Louisiana, perhaps 30 miles outside Alexandria. A country church that has grown to several hundred!
Steve Carnahan in Gillette, Wyoming. Wyoming is not the Bible belt. A church planter who has taken a church from nothing to almost 200. There are no “church transfers” in Gillette.
Daryl Hargrove near Dallas has quietly established a powerhouse multicultural church that now includes people from well over 25 countries.
Raul Orozco in Orange County, and Los Angeles actually now pastors the largest UPCI church in North America. They have grown so fast that the entire congregation gets together one time each year at a convention city in Orange County. The rest of the year, they have church in varied neighborhoods in and around Los Angeles.
In Milton, Florida Larry Webb has grown from 100+ to 500+. This has been a consistent journey of well over 30 years.
Garland Hanscom in Ottawa, Ontario started the church when the nearest fellowship was hundreds of miles away. Today, there are numerous churches close by . . . Bro. Hanscom and church planted them. He said, “We had to create our own fellowship.”
The list of people who are having revival is extensive and includes churches in non Bible belt places like New Jersey, Quebec, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Saskatchewan. For every one church and pastor I mentioned there are 10-20 such in the ALJC, PAW, Apostolic Assemblies, COOL-JC, WPF, independent Apostolics and UPCI.
The interesting thing about most of these is their humility and lack of a proclivity to be “self promoters.” A few of these will have gained prominence and preached a conference, camp or other event – but what is now being celebrated at such events was happening before the person had such prominence. Revival is not:
- Bells and whistles.
- Gaining great recognition from organizational leadership.
- Big buildings and extra money.
- Invitations to preach great meetings.
- Four color marketing.
Revival actually comes in a plain brown wrapper. It is so progressive and becomes such a systemic and systematic expectation for a church that many in a community or congregation don’t even realize the day of their visitation. Certainly, many in the organizational structure don’t know it is happening – until the evidence of growth is unavoidable.
So you can have it . . . do you want it? How much do you want it?
You may have read some of the works of Charles Finney. If you haven’t, you should read things like Finney on Revival. in the words of Finney, “If God should ask you this moment, by an audible voice from heaven, ‘Do you want revival?’ would you dare to say ‘Yes’? ‘Are you willing to make the sacrifices?’ would you answer ‘Yes’?’ If He asked, ‘When shall it begin?’ would you answer, ‘Let it begin tonight-let it begin here-let it begin in my heart now.’?” If God were to ask, “What are you willing to change in order that there might be revival?” would you answer “Anything?”
Revival is by intent, with right behavior that is sustained for the long term. Finney said, “An old fashioned revival is no more a miracle than is a good crop of corn.”
I’m wrapping up preparation on THE BOOK – “Revival in a Plain Brown Wrapper.” I’ve benefited from varied perspectives of what revival looks like – some are actually on point, some are far afield. From Finney’s question: What are you willing to change in order that there might be revival? What is your answer . . . – someone’s eternity depends on your answer.
My point of reference is a lifetime spent in the United Pentecostal Church and 12 years spent as a religious executive with our North American Missions effort. I know a bit about revival with those ranks. I’d love to hear about “plain brown wrapper revivals” in the PAW, ALJC, WPF, COOL- JC, Apostolic Assemblies and any of the over 100 other Apostolic organizations that dot our continent. Talk to me . . . let’s learn together.