My church just experienced a two week revival. It was an amazing experience. Our revival was like an explosion in a library during which all the well worn volumes got blown apart, and now I am focused on how to glue it all back together again, but this time in a better, and more Christlike format. The things that were blown apart were things that needed it: pride, bitterness, poor priorities, indifferent marriages, doing church instead of seeking Christ… and the list goes on and on.
One enduring realization I have following the revival is this: there are a couple of assumptions I have been carrying around about the church that are probably not true. For example, I learned that people will still give their christian lives priority if given the chance. I saw very busy young families show up at church night after night over fifteen days; pushing back their kids’ bedtimes, adjusting work schedules, skipping sports practices, etc. Read any book on church habits in our post modern culture and you will see it over and over again… “young people won’t offer that kind of time to God and church anymore,” so pastors should not bother asking. It will be a waste of your time. If they give you two hours a week you are doing well. Wrong. Huge numbers of Salem folks just spent about 36 hours on campus stretched over twelve days of gatherings. I think people simply have to be convinced that it will be “worth their while.” They have to truly believe that the payoff for their time will be authentic help in becoming more like Jesus.
Another poor assumption of mine: large churches can’t know real community. Most churches the size of Salem are really more like a loosely connected collection of dozens of little faith communities, but what if something more is possible. I am convinced that it is possible, and now post-revival, I am seeing numerous ways to build a greater sense of New Testament community: a more confessional approach to corporate prayer, taking advantage of opportunities for unified worship and study, and cross-generational mentoring. With every passing week I am seeing a church that is less interested in worship styles, administrative details, and meaningless side issues, and more focused on how to make God look good before a skeptical world!
Well, that’s all for now, as I have to return to glueing all those messy scraps of paper that were blown apart back together again.
And the truth shall make you free