Revival Then and Now


I wrote about systems the other day, and this systemic difference between a hundred years ago and now came to mind:

Then, when revival came after times of diligently seeking the Lord, everyone dropped whatever he was doing and local churches were filled to capacity 24/7 for weeks and sometimes even months.

Now, after many years of prayer by intercessors, the first hints of revival break out in your church one Sunday night, with massive repentance, people weeping before the altar, and the Holy Spirit thick upon each person. Meanwhile, you’ve got a sales conference call early Monday with Spacely Space Sprockets,  a dinner meeting with the boss, and you fly out on Tuesday morning for your presentation to the folks at J. Peterman later that afternoon. And on Wednesday…

If you want to know why revival does not come to this country, this then and now difference is a good place to start. And the problem is systemic.

If this country is ever to experience a Third Great Awakening, smart Christians better start speaking to systemic issues.

11 thoughts on “Revival Then and Now

  1. When I read Charles Finney, or perhaps it was Smith Wigglesworth, one revival broke out when a woman factory worker told an off-color joke. A Spirit-filled Christians standing by looked at her, and the woman was convicted. Soon, revival spread throughout the factory, and the owner closed the factory for a while so everyone could go to services for ministry.

    Take the Holy Spirit with you to the sales call, and the meeting with the boss, and to whatever you have to do on Wednesday, Dan. If the revival can’t spread outside the four walls of the church in the fictional scenario you just posited…well, your God just isn’t big enough. Your sales call recipient needs Jesus. So does your boss.

    • You have a very valid point, Michael. But I can also see business leaders hardening their hearts because they put business first. I think that people of yesteryear had a softer spot for “religion.” I guess hypotheticals may not always work, so perhaps my hypothetical may fall down in that regard. I don’t know.

      • You cannot know (unless the Lord tells you up front, just as He told Moses) if your boss will harden his heart unless you take the revival to him (and Moses still had to confront Pharaoh).

        If I knew how to find that story, I would give it to you. Would a business shut down so churches could have revivals in this day and time? Maybe in small towns. Not in large cities. But I could see, if revival fires swept a city, managers might let employees have more flexible hours so they could go to revival. But, Dan, part of our systemic problem with revival is that it is location-based. I need to know how to stay faithful to Jesus while I am at work. Sure, it would be wonderful to change the systems long-term. But right now, I have to go to work. I can rage against the machine, or I can learn how to worship Him where I work.

        I work at a secular bookstore, so I brainstorm ways to make the store money while at the same time trying to present ministry to the customers, preferably with book selections. If revival truly came to my city, then I would not need to storm into my boss’s office and demand that offensive books be pulled off the shelves. The books would not sell, and corporate would change the line-up of books at my store, just like the taverns of old closed down because no one would get drunk when revivals came to town.

  2. Charles Finney believed in planning for revival. Leonard Ravenhill also seemed to believe that. (I read Why Revival Tarries.) It can begin with one man. You are one man. What is stopping you? I am one man. What is stopping me?

  3. I know what was stopping me. My job, and every time the Holy Spirit tried to do something I shut Him down because I had “obligations”.

    Yes, we have duties to fulfill, but not at the expense of the Holy Spirit getting FIRST obligation in our life.

    What did I do? I just quit my job. Is it gonna cost? Oh yeah, already has… we are moving now, to a not so great area… and getting rid of a vehicle. It’s gonna be a pain for a while… at least until He changes my heart to see how much of a blessing it is, and not the pain I think it is right now.

    Families don’t need two cars, we have feet. If we had to walk places, God might have opportunity to speak to us more… at least if we didn’t have our ipods strapped to our ears the entire time (I’m as guilty as anyone here, I’ve had to learn to just shut it off at times).

    Revival must come to US. We must be positioned and ready.

    I won’t let it tarry in my life anymore. He promises if we seek Him we will find Him… and I BELIEVE HIM!

    • Josh

      I think you’re right about the walking. I used to drive my car to class every day. Then I started walking to get exercise and save gas money. When I walked I talked to God or listened to music/sermons on my MP3 player (I’m too poor for an iPod :P) I’ve found “He walks with me and he talks with me” is much more than just the lyrics to a song!

      Peace in Christ,


  4. David

    Christians among the thorns is a recurring theme, and it’s true that the cares of this world can choke the life out of believers. Christ preached often on the need to seperate the reality of living in the world with the very real threat of living a worldly life.

    Revival comes when one person takes their Christian walk seriously. Soon others notice. The result is either revival or persecution. Often both.

  5. toni cranmer

    Hi Dan,

    After service, this evening, a number of us sat around and discussed this very question.

    I’m not sure if this is applicable to the church, at large, but it appears (at least at the church that i attend) that a large number of the congregants have made, projected, the pastoral staff into false christs. It’s as though a large number of these people do not realize they can approach God – on their own.

    They aren’t taking their broken-ness to the cross; or their praise & thanksgiving to the throne room; they appear to be looking for the pastor to be their conduit to signs and wonders and words from God.

    Revival, when it does occur, probably won’t look like it did during earlier manifestations. When God does move in our midst, we may be apt to miss it because we are looking for someone else to dispense it to us .

    In giving up the miracle of the resurrection, we lose the ability to experience the power of God in a personal way.

    … my two cents

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