Recently I read a book by Selwyn Hughes called REVIVAL: Times of Refreshing and in it he describes revival as "the return of some thing to its true nature and purpose" (p. 13). He quotes a famous Welsh preacher, Christmas Evans, who said: "Revival is God bending down to the dying embers of a fire that is just about to go out, and breathing into it, until it bursts again into flame."
Selwyn Hughes then goes on to say: "Revival, then, is the Christian Church going back again to the God-given norm. And what is that 'norm'? Nothing less than the experience of Pentecost" (p. 14)
Send the fire Lord! Send the fire!Although I don't think we're a fire that is just about to go out, the truth is most of us have plateaued or are in decline. In our world, more parishes are closing than are being planted. The national church's revenue is declining at the rate of around 3% a year. We need to have our flames fanned.
I know talk of fire and revival can be disturbing to some. Disturbing images of odd behaviour and weirdness are stirred up. Personally, what little I've experienced has been fun even when I know the world, the flesh and the devil will always be a part of the mix because people are involved.
Interestingly, the Great Awakening in the last half of the Nineteenth Century, for example, involved very little in the way of strange manifestations or behaviour. Instead, that great movement of God's Spirit which filled so many churches and brought so much social transformation was characterized by
- an extraordinary spirit of prayer
- a deep conviction of sin
- a burden to reach people with the Gospel
- the crossing denominational boundaries. It involved the whole church.