Are we prime for revival or are we hopelessly stuck in the past? I don’t think God is done with us yet. Even though we are seeing decline pretty much across the board, I am hopeful that God is still going to use Churches of Christ in some meaningful and powerful ways.
Not all DNA is good DNA. A lot of what kills our physical bodies has markers in our DNA. Some DNA isn’t worth preserving – it is killing us! We also have DNA worth preserving. Some people want to jump ship. Many do (we are in decline overall). Here is some of what I think needs preserved for future generations:
- Our theology of the Lord’s Supper is something that needs to carry on. The weekly practice is not just biblical. It is beneficial to us.
- Our baptismal theology is an asset to the kingdom. So much of Christianity has relegated baptism to something that doesn’t at all sound like how the Bible sounds when it talks about baptism.
- Our zeal for the Word of God is admirable (even if the way we read it needs some adjustment – we are still serious about what God did and didn’t say).
- Our emphasis on obedience is important, so long as we don’t slip over into legalism (which isn’t just about obedience but it about what we believe obedience accomplishes in and of itself).
- Our view on church autonomy/lack of denominational structure and hierarchy. We have a bitter sweet relationship with this one. Our autonomy keeps some needed changes from happening and often prevents our individual congregational elderships from accountability but also keeps the whole ship from turning the wrong direction all at once.
- Our willingness to stand out and be differentiated from the world.
We could list more but these are a few things that need to be preserved. What is more, our people love Jesus. That is enough in itself to remind us that we are needed in this world to do the work Jesus would do were he here doing it.
What are some needed adjustments that might point us toward revival? First revival isn’t something that can be planned but it can be positioned for. You can assume a particular posture that makes revival more likely but it isn’t a formula guaranteeing a result like 1+2 always equals 3.
Here is my list, what would be on yours?
- A focus on making disciples – we mistook this for evangelizing the baptists and neglected our calling.
- A reliance on the Holy Spirit – we cannot ignore the Spirit if we want revival. The Spirit is always central to revival but it is hard to rely on someone for resources if you think they are unemployed. See Acts 2:2-4
- Fasting – Jesus never commanded it, otherwise we might do it. But Jesus assumed his followers would do it. He assumed it because that is what people did in his day. Jesus couldn’t imagine a child of God who didn’t fast, which is why he didn’t say “I command you to fast” but instead said “When you fast…” How can we have revival if we aren’t looking to God for direction and relying on God for his power? There is no greater way for us to tune into theses things than fasting. What would happen if we fasted once a week asking God to bring revival?
- Prayer – more and more prayer. We need to commit to praying every day for revival. Revival of our congregations. Revival of church in the West. Revival of the kingdom in the lives of the people in our nation. Revival doesn’t come without prayer and the Spirit – see Acts 1:14. Paul told us to pray continually. Do we or are we disobedient in this regard? What if we took Paul’s instruction seriously?
- Embrace grace – Grace isn’t about letting more sin in the camp. Grace is about recognizing God’s acceptance of us in spite of our imperfections – that we can be imperfect and God still accept us as He is working things out in our lives. We should extend that same grace to each other. A grace-less church is a revival-less church.
- A more biblically informed view of worship – to recognize the special nature of the worship of the assembled saints but to not obsess over that one hour a week in particular. Once we have a more holistic view of whole-life worship we will begin to obsess less over what happens on Sunday and get more interested in whether or not the reminder of our lives are lived in a manner in line with God’s will (Rom 12:1-2).
We could list more. You can list more in the comments. This is a start. There is much worth preserving. Unless we make some adjustments we might not be around to preserve these important elements of our theology and practice.
We could also list things we need to give up in order to have a meaningful future. I would like to hear what you would put on that list as well!