In my previous post (“Revival and Hype”), I said that since one of the marks of real revival is worship gatherings that are “thick with a sense of the presence of God that is not orchestrated by the presiders” that I am loathe to ever try to “engineer” results or orchestrate experiences. But does that mean there’s nothing we can do? Do we just sit around and wait for something to happen? Is there anything we can do to see these kinds of dynamics affect the communities and people we care about?
That’s the question Keller asked at the end of his last blog post, and he followed it up today with an answer to the question of “ways and means” and whether we can properly apply it to revival. He treads a third way between what he sees as the excesses of Finney-esque revival engineering and an “all we can do is pray” attitude.
The article itself is worth reading, but here are the five factors Keller points to that seem to be “ways and means” toward revival:
- Extraordinary prayer
- Recovery of the grace-gospel
- Renewed individuals (causing hunger, awakening in others)
- The use of the gospel on the heart in counseling (including small groups)
- Ordinary instituted “means of grace” (preaching, pastoring, worship, prayer, etc.)
One of the questions I have as I look at this list regards the “Recovery of the grace-gospel.” Perhaps that recovery looked like Jonathan Edwards preaching “Justification By Faith Alone” in 1734, but what would a recovery of the grace-gospel look like in our day? Different aspects of the gospel will resonate with different cultures at different times, and I think it’s too easy to conflate justification-by-faith-as-Edwards-preached-it with the gospel itself.
That said, of course I do believe the gospel is a universal declaration that we can’t “change,” per se, depending on the mood of the culture. But, to use a musical metaphor, the gospel is a deep fundamental that triggers a thousand overtones. Which overtones need to resonate most clearly today?
I also resonate strongly with the “ordinary means of grace” factor at the end, but would frame it in terms of discipleship to Jesus. If I examine my assumptions about discipleship and why I am investing so heavily in making disciples, I would have to say that I really believe that extraordinary things can begin to happen when people simply abandon themselves to the work of the Spirit and really follow Jesus (being with him to learn from him how to be like him). I might also argue that the result of making these kinds of disciples (who can make further disciples) will actually unleash a more powerful revival movement than the ones we’ve seen in the past, because they won’t be centered around an extraordinary individual.
Some of that is guesses/hunches (Myers-Briggs ‘N’ in operation), and some of that I know has happened in various places.
Anyway, those are just a couple thought about an article I found interesting. What are your thoughts?