What Is ‘Revival’?

Understanding when revival begins...

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There are church buildings everywhere in North America, but why aren’t they all full of passionate believers? We all seem to have the answers – create new programs and use new methods; or hold on to old ideas and traditional methods. But any success is marginal compared to past ‘revivals.’ We live in a world that is looking for authentic experiences, so does the Church have something to offer?  The answer is simple – YES! God is longing to connect with all of humanity!  The question is – is the Church ready to be revived?

what is revival

I’ve heard the word ‘revival’ my whole life, but I’m not sure if I understood what it meant. It was always used in the context of ‘powerful worship services’ and ‘people getting saved.’ It wasn’t until I started to read and learn about some of the great revivals of the past that I began to understand what revival is all about.

The Great Awakening

The Church was asleep and lost in the mundane motions of religion. The Church was dead – boring – cold – unaware of God’s greatness. Jonathan Edwards was one of the men who, in observing their apathy, led to one of the greatest revivals in history.  Edwards wrote:

“It pleased God…to display his free and sovereign mercy in the conversion of a great multitude of souls in a short space of time, turning them from a formal, cold and careless profession of Christianity, to the lively exercise of every Christian grace, and the powerful practice of our holy religion.”1

Edwards continued to describe how the churches in the area were seeing few conversions and the Spirit seemed withdrawn. He very quickly concluded that:

“The hand of God is not shortened, that it cannot save, but we have reason to fear that our iniquities, our coldness in religion, and the general carnality of our spirits, have raised a wall of separation between God and us.”2

Edwards was pretty clear – revival starts with revived believers. We don’t see God’s authentic grace spreading across our towns, cities, provinces, and nation, because authentic grace isn’t spreading within the Church. When believers (the Church) wake up, revival begins.

When the Church is ready to be revived, we’ll find God already waiting to use His followers as witnesses for the Kingdom!

It’s About People and Relationships

The problem is, our view of revival has nothing to do with us. We pretend the Spirit will magically bring people to the altar of repentance if we offer the right programs, sing the right songs, and preach the right way.

But God didn’t call us to perform; God called us to be his witnesses and to make disciples. Jesus sent his followers out on a great commission:

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)

And we’re able to carry out this commission as His witnesses in the strength of the Spirit. Just before Jesus ascended he said:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)

We become disciples who disciple others and, through that process, are able to share our testimony with others through the power of the Spirit.  When the Church is ready to be revived, and carry out their mission, a revival of our nation will become a reality.

Moving Forward…

So where do we, as believers, go from here? If you want to experience revival, let me offer you some really basic advice:

  1. Pray to become revived! Don’t just pray that other people will find Jesus, pray that your relationship with Jesus grows deeper and more mature every day. People are always attracted to authentic spiritual maturity.
  2. Let God do the reviving. It’s a relief to know it’s not our job to save people – only God can do that. There’s no need to be overwhelmed by the state of the world, and there’s no need to overreact. Let go, and let God’s Spirit lead us all to cross.
  3. Be ready to be a witness. Don’t push your faith on others, but be ready to share how God has transformed you. It’s not our job to tell others how they should be transformed; Jesus has called us to be his witnesses – simply sharing how He has transformed us.

Are you ready to be revived?

Your turn…

How do you view revival?


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Andrew currently lives in Winterland, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and two children (Rae and Pierson). He is a graduate of both Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.