Time defines true revival. History has seen many revivals come and go. Some have had long-term effects, such as the Protestant Reformation in 16th-century Europe or the Wesley revivals in England in the 18th century. Across the Atlantic, the First and Second Great Awakenings shook our young nation. A century ago, the Azusa Street Revival spawned the Pentecostal movement that has since spread around the world. Yet about the same time, revival came to Wales—and 100 years later few effects from it can be seen. Indeed, many lesser “revivals” have fizzled with no lasting fruit.
When the recent outpouring in Lakeland, Fla., began in April, it was spread around the world via the Internet and GOD TV. Thousands have traveled to see and experience what is happening. In late August, the movement transitioned into a new phase as Todd Bentley left Lakeland in hopes of taking what was ignited there to cities throughout North America.
Lakeland has also prompted plenty of questions. Revivals are exhilarating times as people respond to the Holy Spirit. But what about the odd manifestations and extremism that typically come with them? What is a pastor to do when he hears the inevitable criticisms and sees the potential confusion?
Understanding what God is doing—not only with the Lakeland Outpouring but around the world—is so important we have devoted most of this issue of Ministry Today to allow eight respected leaders (most of them pastors) to write about different aspects of the revival. Some are extremely positive about the Lakeland Outpouring; others question some of its elements. Each leader sees only “in part” (1 Cor. 13:9), yet each brings an important word we should consider.
Let’s make it clear: Ministry Today embraces genuine revival. We don’t identify with the spirit of the so-called “revival police” or “heresy hunters.” Yet we believe there are important issues the Spirit-filled church must address. Here we present eight articles; there are more on our Web site, including blogs we’ve written in recent months after attending the meetings in Lakeland. We pray that as you read these features the Holy Spirit will guide you toward a more complete understanding of what He’s doing today—and what’s still to come—as you lead His people.
Stephen Strang is the Publisher/Founder of Ministry Today.