Bishop's Message

Revelations about revivals

IF YOU ARE SOMEONE who is very keen on advocating revival today, I wonder whether you are aware of what that might say about you and your church.

When we call for revival, we are saying that something is not right with the spiritual state of the church. A body needs revival only when it is sick or dying, if it is not already dead – in this latter case, what we really need then is a resurrection!

So if you are calling for revival, are you saying then that your church is in such a state? You are saying that whatever your pastor, leaders, ministry staff, Sunday School teachers, cell leaders, etcetera are doing have not amounted to much. They have done such a miserable job that the Body is dying.

Theoretically, if our church discipleship programme is working, then there is no need to call for revival. By Jesus’ own definition, a disciple is willing to deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). A disciple is also someone who continues in His teaching (John 8:31) and who glorifies God by bearing much fruit (John 15:8). This is not the picture of someone in need of revival.

When we call for a revival, we are saying that our discipleship programme, if we have any at all, has failed. If this is so, then moving into a revival will not solve our problem.

Suppose a revival does come (and that is not something we can trigger at the push of a button). People are saved. Believers are stirred up in their spirit. Then what? They must move on to maturity. But spiritual maturity does not happen during a revival; it comes about through discipleship. If we do not have a process of discipleship in place, we will always be depending on revivals. Their impact however is only short-term.

For a discipleship programme to be successful, we have to work hard. Understanding the various levels of maturity of our members, drawing up a curriculum that is suitable for the variety of needs, preparing the teaching material, the actual teaching and implementation of the plans, evaluating whether all the above are actually working as planned – all these require diligence and discipline.

Even when we have all of the above in place, they might not work if we only depend on our efforts, as if we are running a secular school. The principal, teacher and primary motivator for the success of such an operation is the Holy Spirit. We can have a proper set-up in place and (falsely)

believe that if we have the processes working properly, we will produce disciples. In so doing, we might trust more in the process than in the Person who is the only one who can really transform anyone.

So when we call for a revival, it might simply be our own perception that we are in need of it. Very often it is a personal perspective. But that may not actually be a view of what the reality is.

Is revival what we really need? If we say so, is that really true of the whole church? Or is it only a segment of the people? Are we willing through the Spirit to work with others, to bring about transformation by bringing our people through discipleship? Or are we seeking a short-term quick-fix in a revival?

You see, when you call for a revival you are revealing more of who you are, and what you are thinking, than what may be the real spiritual state of your church.

Picture by Martin Fischer/

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