Living Room Revival

Posted: August 28, 2008 in Church, Happenings, Perspective

“Revival” is one of those words that is regrettably attached to a caricature of the Christian church.  When I hear that word, it makes me think of sweaty preachers (usually traveling preachers from out of town) in small churches waxing hard about how evil I am and that I’m going to go to “hay-ell” if I don’t stop my sinful ways.  The service may even take place in a tent outside the church walls.

Planned “revivals” like this were often annual things where the church tried hard to either “revive” its own congregation or reach out to the masses.  The problem, however, is that (1) a congregation that needs annual “reviving” is already in trouble, (2) the masses are usually scared to death of anything termed “revival” before they even walk in the front doors, and (3) you cannot dictate the terms by which God will move and act in people’s lives.  So, events like these generally attract mostly church people who feel their existing faith needs a boost.

“Revive,” at it’s most basic meaning, means to “restore to consciousness or life.”  So I’ll acknowledge that a revival can re-awaken Christians who have turned away from God and need a good kick in the pants (It’s sad, but we’ve all been there).  But true revival in the spiritual sense is seeing people “restored to life.”  And when people who are dead in their sins find Christ for the first time and Christ brings them back to life, revival really happens.

***

The reason I’m hung up on this word right now has to do with several things that are now happening concurrently in my life, the life of a friend of mine, and in the life of Crosspoint.  I always pay attention when I start seeing the same theme popping up in unrelated aspects of my life, because it usually is God trying to reveal something (the consistency of God’s truth is funny that way!).

Current #1

And old friend of mine from back in my grad school days has given up on his calling to do ministry in a professional capacity.  While it’s not my place to share everything, I can say that his experience in missions and in local church ministry was mired in church administrative issues and a whole lot of the kind of legalism in a church that just kills people’s spirits.  He and I talked for a long time a ouple of nights ago about his discouragement with the church in general, and he wondered if finding a real, loving, effective church was even possible these days.  I told him I think I see that happenening in a lot of churches:   Newspring, Granger, Revolution…just to name a very SMALL number of them.  I explained that I think these churches are effective, because they have rediscovered the power of the Gospel and the mission of the church to get that good news to people who desperately need to hear it.  Mission is primary, and the legalistic things that consume other churches are simply not as important when held up to the light of mission.  These churches, which are often viewed as “fringe” (I like the term “cutting edge” better..heh) are the places where phenomenal growth is taking place and lives are being changed.  In reply to this, my friend reminded me what a professor of ours used to say:  “Revival always begins with the fringe.”

What is the “fringe” when it comes to the church?  It is not the mainstream.  It is not what everyone else is doing.  I think revival happens here on the global church scale, because these are churches that – like Josiah finding the book of the law in a run-down temple – have rediscovered Gospel and mission, and are willing to do whatever it takes – even adopt crazy-new methods (anything short of sinning) to reach people with the Gospel of Christ.  And it’s working.

Current #2

This “revival on the fringe” thing isn’t just a valid observation about churches, but the people within those churches.  Jason and I were talking last night about the incredible revival we’re seeing in our small group and in Crosspoint in general.  And what is amazing about this is that it’s happening in the lives of people that most churches would regrettably deem “fringe” people.  Though I’ve seen people who have been “churched” their whole lives get “revived,” so to speak, what we are seeing now are non-Christians – with some serious life issues – find Christ.  And they are leading their friends, too.

“Fringe” is a word that I do not like when it comes to talking about people, because it usually describes people with some major problems that the church often does not seem to know how to deal with:  drug addiction, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, divorce, homosexuality, etc.  I hate this because it rests on the assumption that people dealing with serious issues are somehow more sinful than we (church people) are, which is an incredibly arrogant and self-righteous thing to believe.  True, some sins carry more earthly consequences than others (drug addiction can be more life threatening than say telling white lies), but sin is sin, and all of us are guilty.  Period.

So I think it’s amazing to see revival happening in the lives of people living out here on the ill-termed “fringe.”  I love to see this, because Jesus’ ministry was to the “fringe” of his time.  His disciples weren’t theology students, they were fishermen, carpenters, tax collectors…and one of them (Paul) was even a murderer.  When Jesus went places, he established relationships with “sinners” – prostitutes, adulterers, tax collectors (traitors)…  This whole thing we call Christianity began with these people, not the Pharisees, not the Sadducees, not the religious people.  It began with the people Israel largely ignored, or even shunned.  And what we’re seeing at Crosspoint is a movement – a living room revival – happening among people who are largely ignored, or even shunned, by many Christians.

Current #3: 

My own faith is being “revived” (to consciousness) as I see this happen, mostly because it is so obviously God’s design and not mine.  As Jason commented to me last night, many of the people who were “matched” to our small group are not the ones who are coming.  The people who are coming have dramatically different histories and current life situations compared to what our original “target” was.  And what God is doing is so amazing, I think we both feel less like leaders of a group and more like the people who merely get the privilege to hang along for the ride as we watch God transform people’s lives.

Jason had a conversation with one of the people who has been coming last night as she was leaving.  Amidst the conversation (mostly about how important Crosspoint and this group has become to here in the mere 3-4 weeks she has been attending), Jason had he opportunity to ask her about Christ.  “I gotta ask…would you say you know Jesus?”  Her answer.  “I didn’t 3 weeks ago, but now I do.”

To use one of Dave’s favorite phrases:  If that don’t crank your tractor, I don’t know what will.

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Comments
  1. jalack says:

    I got my water pistol and I know where there is fire that needs extinguished, lets go…Great post Kevin.

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