Have you ever wondered what is happening to churches today? Many have lost their sense of purpose, floundering for identity, in a sea of hundreds of other churches competing for the same people. Approximately 80 percent of “church growth” numbers can be attributed to people transferring from one church to another rather than new converts. As many as 3,000-4,000 churches close their doors every year—unable to stay open due to financial burdens, infrastructural turmoil and apathy.
In this discouraging environment, day in and day out, pastors and church leaders toil for the kingdom of God. Often overworked, underpaid and unappreciated, they deny themselves the luxury of time for rest and spiritual renewal. Is it any wonder that more than 1,500 pastors leave their churches every month due to spiritual burn-out, moral failure or contention within their congregation?
A miracle lifestyle begins in God’s presence
For decades, maybe centuries, the church has gathered weekly around a sermon. Our reasons are noble: We value the Scriptures and know that our lives are to be anchored in truth. But the study of the Scriptures is meant to launch us into an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.
In that moment of connection, we obtain life. Without encountering the One to whom Scriptures point, we are a people to be pitied. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
Nearly every leader wants revival in one way or another, and many want healings, deliverances and miracles. But it’s hard to have the same fruit as the early church when we value a book they didn’t have above the Holy Spirit they did have.
On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations’ General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan; the Arab leadership rejected it. Sixty-five years later, on Nov. 29, 2012 (Thursday), Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, excoriated Israel, praised Islamic terrorists and received the overwhelming approbation of the General Assembly, which voted 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions) to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state.”
Abbas was perfectly clear: “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: ‘Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.’” The world, then, through the U.N., would be rebuking Israel with its vote.
To be sure, President Abbas made some conciliatory remarks, such as, “We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel.” But these remarks were completely overridden by his unstinting condemnation of Israel, whose policies, he claimed, “have thrown [negotiations] into the intensive care unit.”
How could he claim that he came to the U.N. to “launch a final serious attempt to achieve peace”?
Culture wars are real. I’m speaking of the battles that continually pursue between those who hold to traditional values and those who are opposed. My friend, the gospel is greater than any force that comes against it. When we preach the pure Word of God, amazing results follow. Please allow me to give you an example.
The governor of Alabama once invited me and several of my evangelist friends to a historic meeting. It was a Saturday afternoon rally in support of keeping the Ten Commandments posted at the State Supreme Court.
Upon arrival we were shocked to see more than 25,000 people gathered together on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion. Surrounding the crowd were all the major media networks broadcasting this historic event.
I remember asking the governor what he wanted me to say at this secular rally. His response was crystal clear: “Preach the gospel and give an altar call.”
I have heard about revival all my life. Raised in a Pentecostal church, I remember the older people longing for revivals they’d experienced or heard about—but I didn’t see much actual revival happening. The fires that had taken the message of the Holy Spirit around the world and birthed the Pentecostal movement had essentially diminished into a few glowing embers. Although the charismatic movement and the Jesus movement stoked those revival fires once again, it’s been 50 years since the charismatic renewal began, and many of those early ministries have dissipated or gone away.
The church and the world need revival more than ever. What the Bible teaches about miracles and healing is still true today. Unfortunately, the term revival has become synonymous with an extended meeting where there’s a lot of excitement and maybe TV coverage by GodTV. After all, what’s left of the famous Brownsville Revival of the 1990s? Or what about the Lakeland Revival that lasted only a few months before evangelist Todd Bentley self-destructed amid a wake of controversy? Is there any revival that is new, fresh, legitimate and lasting?
The answer is yes. The Holy Spirit is still at work and moving powerfully today—particularly in the small town of Redding, Calif., where Bethel Church has been experiencing revival for more than 16 years now.