Last month, I told you that I’m going to write about how a local church can join the current revival movement among students. At Life Action, we have identified six biblical responses to God, which seem to always be precursors to local church revival. So today, here is the first response.
He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV).
Wow. This should be one of the most terrifying and exciting verses in the Bible at the same time! If you want to know how to be opposed by God Himself, then allow pride to control your life. On the other hand, if you want all the grace you need, you will find it in humility. How can you help lead your church toward humility, since according to God’s Word there is no hope for revival without it, and all the grace you need with it? Having been a pastor for almost four decades before coming to Life Action, I think two practical actions by any church member can help lead their church toward humility, and thus toward revival.
First, pray, and call others to pray.
I know this sounds very basic and not revolutionary. But that depends on what we believe about God! Do we really believe Ephesians 3:20 is true? “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us …” If we do, then what could matter more than for a church to ask Him for this together! Churches without a powerful prayer ministry are demonstrating their pride. They don’t really need the presence of God, just good programs and preaching and music and the things that help us feel better. Honestly, this is what many churches in America look like today. Help change that in your church! Even if few come with you. In 1857 six people were the total prayer catalyst for a revival that went national and led to a million people coming to Christ. If we are humble, we will pray. And God will answer.
Second, be the most encouraging voice in your church.
Even when you disagree with things. Pride leads us to believe that we have to fix everything; it always keeps us looking at someone else as the problem. That may be your pastor or some other leader in your church. Humility means believing that God can change hearts and you don’t have to! In fact, humility realizes that it might be your heart that needs changing, and you just haven’t figured that out yet. The spirit of conflict, gossip, and unbiblical political or party-like behavior is at epidemic levels in our churches. Believe me, I hear it every week from pastors. I experienced it in my own ministry, in such a way that I really didn’t feel like I could continue anymore in the context I was in without losing my integrity, or my mind! Don’t underestimate the pressure your pastor and staff are under. They are not perfect. In fact, they may have significant problems. But consider that one of the reasons for those problems is that they live under constant criticism and attacks from within their own church family—those meant to be known by their love. Two weeks ago, I heard about a pastor who resigned because he was arrested for driving under the influence. My first thought was anger. How could he do such a thing? Immediately, God convicted me of my pride. I know exactly how he could do such a thing. Because I myself have been under such ministry pressure that I could easily have chosen the path of secret substance abuse. You might be the one person this week who keeps someone from quitting or making the biggest mistake of his life. You might be the one who helps someone not take their life or give up on God. Be that person. You might also find yourself a spark leading to revival fire. I pray this is an encouraging word you can put into practice during the weeks ahead—for yourself, your church, and the ministry God has given us together. May God’s grace and peace be yours in abundance!