For years, Christians in the UK have comforted themselves with the thought that revival is just around the corner. So, asks Malcolm Macdonald, where is it? And what can the Church do to hasten it?
Over the years, the Church has seen many stirrings and blessings, but not (as yet) a nation-changing outpouring of God’s Spirit, such as that which occured in 1859, when one million people across the UK came to faith in Christ.
This is the time of the ‘missing revival’. We are overdue an amazing outpouring. But are God’s people hungry for it? Have you noticed this gap? Do you yearn and pray for it? We in the Church are incredibly busy, well organised, expertly managed and full of creativity, yet we remain largely spiritually impotent. The nation drifts further away from God each year. Where is the manifest presence of God?
A need for vision
We have now had decades of charismatic renewal inside our churches but, outside of our church walls, many have become comfortable with our lack of real, national impact. Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Do we want more than maintenance and management for our churches? Do we want more of God?
A dehydrated Church has no answer for a parched land
A number of years ago, I received an email from a church member: “Since joining St Mary’s, it has felt that we are on the edge of moving into a deeper, more powerful and supernatural relationship with Jesus, but yet there is something holding us back.”
Yes, there is something holding us back. And I think lots of churches are in this same place. We need to recover passionate prayer, anointed worship, bold witness and the power of the word of God and the Spirit of truth.
If we want to see revival come, more than minor amendments are needed. If we are honest, we know that our churches are currently powerless to touch the spiritual needs of our communities; because we are trying to do it in our own strength.
Our churches are not turning communities upside down with gospel life, as once happened under John Wesley, George Whitefield and William Booth. Perhaps this is because, sadly, many are too focussed on their own needs first. The consumer church collapses inwards on itself, as it only serves itself. We need to own this tragedy and repent of it.
Why have we not experienced revival yet? We are not ready. God longs to pour out his Spirit, but we need to wait on him in prayer, just as the disciples did at Pentecost. We need much more of Jesus, and we need to want more of him in our lives, our homes, our churches and our communities. In revival, we see communities transformed, Jesus at the centre and God’s power come very near.
A flood of his Spirit
Millions of people in the UK need the gospel. Our culture is disturbingly self-absorbed; acutely self-sufficient. This is the post-truth, post-Christian world of mix and match pluralism and indifferent agnosticism that we live in. The world around us is spiritually parched. Water is the ultimate symbol of life, yet we are living in “a dry and parched land” (Psalm 63:1).
Sadly, a dehydrated Church has no answer for a parched land. The need of our time is radical repentance for our own self-reliance. How central is Jesus to how we actually live and how our churches operate?
Do we want more than maintenance and management for our churches? Do we want more of God?
Now is the time to prepare the way for the Lord in the UK. God loves to move in deserts, to transform them into places of preparation and hope. And revival is the stream by which he does it. ”For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool”, says Isaiah 35:6-7 (NKJV).
Duncan Campbell, leader of the Hebridean revival, described revival as “a people saturated with God.” That is my dream: Lord, bring the day where this nation will be saturated with God.
Just when things seem darkest, God moves and everything changes. But this only happens when we get more desperate for him, when we pray for increased vision, repent and desire to be saturated with the things of God.
I honestly believe that God wants to bring revival, renew his Church and transform the UK. But he is waiting for us to get ready and get right with him. We must seek him first and plunge into the pools and springs and streams of his Spirit. Let it come Lord! Flood us with your presence!