I finally laid down on the floor after hours of walking followed by packing my suitcase. I would be leaving in the next morning. I had been overseas for three grueling weeks. In all honesty, it felt like the longest three week of my life.
I hit shuffle on my iTunes. The song that came on was, “Call it Grace.” Almost as soon as the song began, I felt tears falling from my eyes… Grace…
I recently had a conversation with a friend which spurred me to write this blog. Our conversation was on revival.
I told my friend that when I hear that word, I want to run for the hills. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for revival, but the “preaching of revival” that I’ve witnessed caused a lot of damage.
I am bracing myself as I write because I have a feeling I will not receive the nicest comments from writing on this topic, but I also feel like I have to say something.
I was once very involved with a ministry that wanted revival. I was 110% on board. We would pray for hours. We wanted to serve those who needed it. We wanted to see change. None of this is bad, in fact, these are ALL great things. But somewhere along the way something changed. Fear, condemnation and judgment crept in. We HAD to read our Bible for extended periods of time or else bad things might happen. We NEEDED to fast because that’s what brought revival. We HAD to have more prayer. Somewhere along the way the desire for revival became something WE had to bring about. It was up to us and only us. And when one of us weren’t keeping up with the amount of prayer and the amount of Bible reading or the way we chose to live, we were suddenly on the outside and we needed serious help to get back in to the group.
Suddenly, we had to follow a regiment no one could keep up. Again, I am NOT against prayer. I am NOT against revival, but I’ve noticed that the people who often preach revival the most are the ones on display.
Before I explain further, I believe God can use one man or woman to lead a revival — look at Billy Graham, Jonathon Edwards, Billy Sunday.
I almost gave up completely on the idea of revival because of the enormous amount of pain that ensued from it. I went from being on the inside to suddenly being on the outside accused of horrible things. I felt no grace. It was as if the very presence of grace was snuffed out by the intense regiment of work needed to bring about revival. Others were looked down upon because they couldn’t keep up. Judgment, condemnation and fear of not measuring up swallowed the space for grace.
I was beginning to think revival was just another thing people used to stir emotions, raise support, or gain power…
Until, I started to get plugged into my community. There was a big initiative when I moved back called #LoveSoFla. There was ways to get involved in serving the community. At first I thought that it was just my church and their satellite campuses doing this initiative. But during one of the services I realized this was NOT just an initiative by my church but over 50 churches in my community.
You see in 2014 and 2015, the city I grew up in, had two pastors resign due to moral failures. Those pastors lead the two largest churches in the city. It was devastating for many people. A lot of people doubted that either church would be able to come back from such a loss. But late in 2015, pastors and key leaders in the community began to meet and pray with each other for our community and for direction.
It was out of that meeting that a mission was launched. Soon after an organization called Church United was established. The community needed a guide and a name was needed for clarity, so Church United began reaching more and more pastors, key leaders and congregations.
By the time I started plugging into the community, I saw pastors and churches praying with each other and serving our community side by side. It wasn’t one denomination. It wasn’t one racial color. It wasn’t only pastors or only the congregations— It was all inclusive. And the ONLY name that was used in the name of this service was Jesus. We were just being Jesus’s hands and feet. Titles didn’t matter, denominations didn’t matter, age, race or gender didn’t matter, we were just God’s children doing what He asked us to do: serve and love.
Because of the unity of our churches, it was the church who responded first to the victims families during the FLL Airport shooting in 2017. It was the church who beat FEMA after Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma. And it was the church who orchestrated a vigil and served the victims families after the Parkland shooting.
This past week I had the honor to attend the quarterly gathering for Church United. I could not help but cry during the portion of the meeting I attended. I saw pastors who serve in Parkland being prayed for by pastors in other cities. I saw a young Pastor from Pines being prayed for by the other pastors in Pines because of the extraordinary loss this particular Pastor was dealing with. Mostly, I saw united pastors and key leaders humbling themselves and seeking ways to be a beacon on light in our community. We have a large homeless population, we people struggling with addictions that often take their life, we lose approximately 35 unborn babies daily to abortion. We have 17 families now left with unimaginable grief because they lost their loved ones February 14th, 2018. Our community is broken. We, as the church, do not get everything right— who does? We make mistakes, we fall, we get discouraged, we are human, but we know that we are here for today and we want to make today count.
As I looked around the room last week, it dawned on me… This is what revival looks like. It’s not flashy. It’s not about one church, or one Pastor, or one organization. It’s every day people living the life God gave them for His glory. It’s not about Church United, they just needed a name. It’s about seeing Jesus change on community using broken yet hopeful people to reach other broken people with hope.
That to me is revival.