Monday, 25 January 2010

The emerging church and revival or vs revival?.

I am wondering if the emerging church is the new wine skin and questioning where is the new wine and could it be that the emerging church is just a rearranging of the deck chairs? Is the emerging church and revival the same thing or are they in competition for time resources and attention?
For years we talked of, dreamed of, believed even, prophecies about the Wild fire rising from Wales, being released across the nation and into Europe and now where there appears to be something of the wild being experienced we wonder if it is what we were looking for. Maybe as John the Baptist had his moment in prison, we too think it looks so different from what we had in mind can it really be God? The raw love of Jesus let loose, maybe like a wild goose? So much joy and love, stories of healing and deliverance, the lost being impacted by songs of the revolution, can it be the Wild fire is rising?
Having read some articles and books about the emerging church it seems to be the latest shape for those who no longer want to be subject to the ways of Empire, who want to return to social justice and impact their locality, improving the society they live in, social transformation rather than cosy clubs, prepared to pay the price for the lost, true believers in the absolute need for justice. We look to verses about feeding the poor, looking after the widow, the story of the sheep and the goats. To infiltrate and influence society, look to slowly but surely influence our friends and society to a better way of life and hope that one day some will say the ‘the prayer’.
What of revival, is this now something we no longer believe in. It is something of the past or for different nations, perhaps 100,000 folk being saved in India recently is just for them but could not happen here. Perhaps as our generation has not experienced it we now change the words and look to transformation instead and give reasons why revivals are not really the plan anymore and don’t have any value? Have we given up on God and decided to sort out society for ourselves.
History tells us that no revivals have ever happened without prayer, people calling out for God to come, to turn the nation, to save them. Stories tell us of regions completely transformed by the power of God, men kneeling in fields sobbing and crawling into churches asking for help. Pubs closing, sporting events cancelled, a renewed sense of community and churches packed. These stories are from our own set of islands not too long ago. The story of the three years of ministry could be seen as a revival, thousands coming to listen to a man on a mountainside, if we saw that today would we say it was a revival? The kingdom of heaven is at hand he said, he healed the sick, he delivered, he taught, he walked on water, he didn’t have many civil words for the establishment or the religious and he set the scene for what was possible. He loved the unloved and accepted those that the religious had rejected. He ate with the despised and taught about a kingdom of forgiveness and love and prayed that we would be fully united with him. He told us that we would only be fruitful if we abided in him. We talk of the great commission which has at its core discipleship to make followers of Jesus, to live as Jesus lived, to be like Jesus and I wonder if we have taken a well meaning detour and decided to disciple but not so much like Jesus. He was a bit intense after all!
I wouldn’t want to think revival was off the cards and social transformation now the reason for the church. I think there must be a way through for both but fear when we focus only on social transformation we are leaving God out of the world he loves so much. I believe he still wants to ravish this world with his love and wants to use us to do it and so I think we need the new wine which maybe brings revival or we will have a very tiring wineskin.


  1. Hate deck chairs, a mare on my back!
    A ‘social move’ verses ‘a God pour out’...two things that should be one....something divided against itself cannot stand...boils down to the issue of ‘head’ verses ‘heart’ and ‘word’ verses ‘spirit’. Boils down to little ol’ us and will we stop trying to control God!!
    Yes, it has to be ‘both, and’ and the only way is Intimacy…which seems to be the stumbling block….an offence even…sounds too much like letting go of the reins!!
    Enjoy the wild ride Snailywooooohoooo!

  2. Some good thoughts here, Mags. I've been a student of historic revivals for many years (1904/05 and esp 1858-60 in Wales). And to be honest I've found myself reading original sources (diaries of revivalists etc) and having a nagging feeling that something was wrong. I'll be trying to re-evaluate these revivals on my site soon.
    But we do need to do church differently. Be it because of empire or any other malign influence, church has been shaped in a particular way that makes it so ineffective in our day. There has to be room for both social action and supernatural power - for without the second, the church only becomes another social service in the land.
    God is the business of restoring the whole of creation - saving souls is a vital part of that, but only a part. And so revivals in the way we think of them are maybe a bit narrow in focus. Though there are tales of pubs closing in Wales due to 1904-05 outpouring - it was for a limited period only. Transformation for a season - not for ever.

  3. Thanks Pinky and Dyfed I suppose I really want to see a shift in my community and nation that is more than social or temporary or limited. in my head/heart there is a 'blurry vision' for heaven on earth and I can only but ponder and then throw my arms up and go it's all about him anyways so I'm off for a snuggle. xx