The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Getting Revived

Is it an oxymoron to plan a revival? I think of a "revival" as this spontaneous reaction to the masterful preaching that brings the truth of the Gospel to bear on the lives on its hearers, wherein they are moved to repent en masse. Isn't a revival by definition an unplanned event that reaches the public and moves large groups of them to acknowledge their guilt and turn from their sins?

Among other things I think about with the word "revival" are a tent and a sweaty preacher. So, if you're planning a revival do you rent a big top and find a guy who doesn't stop up his sweat glands with antiperspirant? Of course not.

Yet this is the approach churches take to revivals nowadays. Revival isn't any longer an objective word describing a factual event; it's a marketing ploy. And that because it's better than "week-long preachfest." That won't sell. But revival? Yes!

This seems completely absurd to me. Planning an unplannable event. To take something that is organic in its natural environment and attempting to duplicate it in the lab. Yet, this seems to be the modus operandi of the churches I've been part of.

The whole plan is to manufacture experiences, whether they actually reflect the real thing or not. Revival or no revival that's what we'll call it. No matter if there's not one conversion. No matter if there's not even one fellow who's never heard the Good News there. It's a revival because we do it all week (or 3 years like the Pentacostal revival of 1906--a real revival), have a circus tent, and hire a sweaty preacher, and that's what we're going to call it!

This method seems the norm for modern church. We call it church because it's a gathering of believers. Yet, it doesn't much feel or look like anything Jesus knew. The Evangelists record much of his teaching out on hills and in the streets, where people were attracted by truth not tradition. It was meaningful and real, not manufactured and well marketed. Jesus was more like the anti-marketer: telling people to keep quiet, "Don't tell anyone!" He would've driven his Public Relations team nuts.

Somehow churches and revivals are just names today, hollow shells of what they were. They were because they had to be. Now they are to maintain the status quo. Not because we want church or need revival but simply because we know we should want it, should need it.

How do we get back to that?