If you’re interested in spiritual awakening — revival — like I am, you’ve read the accounts of The Great Awakenings in America. Preachers, famous and unknown, fanned out across America preaching in fields and street corners, in towns and cities, proclaiming salvation in the name of Jesus. I have also read about the Welsh revival of the early 1900s; the Azusa Street revival which birthed modern pentecostalism; and, more recently, the Brownsville revival and the Toronto blessing of the 1990s.
But there is something happening in our time that is a spiritual phenomenon. Evangelical Christians, churches, and organizations are not just preaching the gospel of salvation, they’re preaching the gospel of doing good in Jesus’ name. Rick Warren, Richard Cizik, Jim Wallis, and a host of other folks — both newcomers and old-timers to this issue — are finding a warm reception among those who had previously rejected the “social gospel.”
Across denominations and interdenominationally, groups of followers of Christ are banding together, collaborating with government, civic organizations, social agencies, business, and others to make this world a better place.
This recent turn is the same thing that John Wesley did in England. Wesley is most known for his organizing the English lower classes into “bands” of folks who met to ask each other “Are you going on to perfection?” But, in addition to evangelism and spiritual formation, Wesley also founded health clinics, fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, took in orphans, established schools, developed and printed scores of instructional books and pamphlets, and took regular offerings to aid the poor. And Wesley was one of the fathers of the Great Awakening!
All this leads me to believe that we are entering a time of spiritual revival. After all, if revival is a new experience of God, then scores of churches and individuals are experiencing God through helping others for the first time. What do you think? Is your church experiencing a revival of helping? If so, how has it transformed your congregation and individuals within your fellowship?