The way we do church here in America isn’t effective. With churches plateauing and dying all around us, this should be obvious. For instance, a church near my home is going to run 3 nights of “revival.” Let’s be blunt – how many of these “revivals” actually became anything like what they should be? How often are the majority of God’s people attending broken and how often are a large number of those who do not believe in Jesus Christ in the surrounding community converted to faith? Those are the points of revival and that should be the result. But even those these revivals are ineffective, we continue to put them on. This is madness, especially if you agree that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and yet expecting different results.
Once upon a time America was the type of country where most folks expected to be in church. I can see in that day and age where techniques like the “revival” I described had a chance of working. Folks were going to be in church because it was expected. As a result, they would be exposed to the Word of God, which could result in real change in a person’s life. However, as I drove by the sign advertising the “revival” I thought to myself, “How many folks outside of that church will actually attend because they are putting on said revival?” The reality is that when you have special events like that you can’t even expect groups of regular church attenders to show up, much less large numbers from outside. Yet we persist. Our techniques are no longer effective. They need to change.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, ESV
Paul understood this. Defending the faith in the synagogues might result in some Jews surrendering to Jesus Christ, but Paul had a new call, a call to the Gentiles. Therefore, going into the synagogues wasn’t the right approach. So what did Paul do? Whatever he had to. Whatever he had to with two restrictions: he was never disobedient to Christ and he never deviated from the message of the Gospel. Our message, the message of the Gospel, is the most incredible message ever. Yes, many won’t believe it’s true. Yes, many will proclaim it to be a fairy tale made up by men wanting to believe in a non-existent God. However, if we believe it, if we truly believe it, it must be our message. It must be the central thing that we communicate. How we communicate it is not important, so long as we don’t sin. That’s Paul’s point.
Traditional “revivals” don’t work any longer. Simply holding services isn’t enough. “Inreach” as a primary focus of fellowship was effective when the majority of folks were in church. However, the majority of folks are NOT in church any longer and therefore they do not experience the love of Christ when the majority of our efforts are inreach. We are here to proclaim Christ, to reveal His love, to show folks we need Him for the forgiveness of our sins. That message is not getting out. That message is not being taken to the masses. That means we need to change our techniques.
If we want revival, if that is what we truly desire, we must face the facts that what we’re doing is not effective. The message of the Cross is not central in our churches and it’s not getting out to a lost and dying world. Our creature comforts and sticking with tradition are more important than doing whatever it takes to take our message to our world. If that is our mindset, we will continue to fail. We must change our techniques. We must not change our message. We must share the Gospel in whatever way we can, so long as we don’t sin. It’s time for change: a change in our methods. Only by embracing a need to change the way we do things and being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit will we be able to see revival. Do you want revival? Then be ready to change.