Many Christians believe America and the world is poised for a revival in the Church and an awakening in the culture. The recent events in Ukraine as well as the past few years of the COVID pandemic have led to even more people expecting a revival in response to the level of fear present in the world.
The question for churches and church leaders is, what would happen if that revival and awakening took place tomorrow? Are you ready? If the church you lead or attend doubled in a weekend, what would you do? Could you handle it?
In the West, the church that is growing is often slowed down to do a fund-raising campaign followed by building program of some type. At the end of the day, revival in the Western church is controlled by buildings.
In the developing world, church planting movements are much like the movement in the early church. They focus on discipleship and gathering disciples into smaller multiplying groups, whether in houses, under trees, or coffee shops. They do not depend on buildings to keep up with the movement of the Spirit of God or the people’s response to God.
The Apostle Paul used buildings and amphitheaters, when necessary, but he never over saw a capital stewardship campaign or building program. He and his team used whatever already existed to keep preaching and discipling. We know in Ephesus, Paul used the lecture hall of Tyrannus. On one of my visits to Ephesus, our guide pointed out some of the larger houses where the churches in Ephesus also met.
With creativity and a godly imagination, church leaders can imagine and visualize a scenario where more people are coming to salvation in Jesus Christ than their buildings and facilities can handle. Are steps being taken now in small groups and fresh expressions of the church to prepare for the harvest? We usually get from the Lord what we prepare for.
In 2 Kings 4, a widow was going bankrupt. The prophet told her to obtain as many jars as possible. When her containers were full, the oil stopped flowing.
“And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing” (verses 3-5 NLT).
The widow only received the amount of oil she had prepared for. In the same way, the harvest you experience may be limited to your willingness to prepare more vessels.
Vessels for revival and ministry are leaders who are able to handle new Christians and make disciples. They are also different forms of gathering new believers together, whether in the marketplace, homes, or whatever is necessary.
For that to happen, current church leaders are required to give permission and blessing to anyone willing to accept the responsibility to care for others and assist them with training and support.
Jesus trusted all his followers with the Great Commission, and he expected all of his followers to make disciples. It is a form of theft when a minister takes all of the ministry away from other believers in the church. This method also places a cork in the flow of revival and movement.
The Apostle Paul seemed to always be mobilizing and releasing others to care for believers and make disciples. He was quick to release ministry and even the care of the new churches to others. He would often see a church planted and then return later to see the organic leadership that had developed. He ordained these leaders as elders or shepherds for the new churches.
How are we planning to train and release new leaders to care for others? Multiplication of leaders is the most important part of preparation for revival and awakening. Can we trust others to lead the way Jesus trusted us? Are we so afraid that those following us will fail that we refuse to trust them and release them to make their own mistakes? Are we duplicating ourselves in others like Jesus and Paul did, or are we planning to die with the wisdom and knowledge God has given us?
Exactly what this will look like in your setting is between you and God. The key is to seek him and look for examples in Scripture and in others who are doing this. Make that the model and method where you are.
Small groups in the church for pastoral care and disciple making have been a part of FCFC for decades. Additionally, we are recognizing that somewhere between 50% and 75% of our culture are not interested in our current brand of church. The answer to that is not to bemoan those who aren’t coming to church, but rather to create a fresh expression of church that fits their culture. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the same message in a megachurch and a micro-church. One size does not fit all.
Begin to pray, study, and research some ways to get out there to where the people are. If and when a God-given revival and awakening comes to our nation and the west, are we ready to run with God and care for those new Christians? Ask yourself and your leadership every week, what would we do if this church doubled in the next seven days? Make those adjustments, and God may just fill those vessels.