by David Bryant
An Urgent Appeal for an Urgent Appeal
If you visit the National Prayer Committee website (http://www.harvestprayer.com/ua/text/index.html), you’ll discover a document that could save our hides.
It is called “An Urgent Appeal to Christian Leaders in America for Consensus and Collaboration on the Biblical Hope of Corporate Revival” (pause and breathe here!), and it is unlike anything else in the annals of church history If God does grant us true revival in answer to the multiplied cries of saints, this pamphlet could save our hides-by saving us from ourselves.
How? Because “An Urgent Appeal” is designed to preempt the confusion, chaos, and division that often ensue in seasons of revival. This confusion is due to the inability of leaders, in the midst of spiritual intensity and ecclesiastical reforms, to trust each other’s interpretations of God’s visitation.
In past awakenings, ill-prepared believers have unwittingly held attitudes of arrogance or sectarianism. Some perceived themselves as select groups with special favors from God, spiritually superior to those who did not experience the same phenomena (or emotions, breakthroughs, or reformations). This demonstrates that if we are not on the same page before revival pours out, consensus and collaboration during the revival can be overwhelmed by plain old religious flesh. Leaders end up either standing by helplessly or actually contributing to the distortions.
In anticipation of this possibility, “An Urgent Appeal” proposes to lay the tracks before the train arrives, so to speak. Then, when revival comes, Christian leaders can work together to be sure it doesn’t get derailed by our humanity-but instead reaches its God-designed destination.
Developed by the National Revival Network and first presented publicly in October 2000 to 500 leaders at the Mission America gathering, “An Urgent Appeal” beautifully complements Mission America’s “collaborative objectives” of evangelism, unity, and revival. The revival objective is “to promote the priority of united prayer for revival in the church and spiritual awakening to Christ throughout the nation.”
The four revival goals are “advancing the vision for revival widely; summoning the church to concerted prayer for it at every level; supporting all the major dimensions of the current national prayer movement; and being accountable to one another as leaders so that we live and pray in a way consistent with the revival vision we promote.”
At 30 pages long, “An Urgent Appeal” buttresses and expands Mission America’s third objective for the whole body of Christ. Beginning with a reintroduction to the Nationwide Call to Prayer to the church in America (issued by Billy Graham and over 100 leaders in 1999), the appeal explores our desperate need for a Christ-awakening in America. It grapples with the issues of establishing common definitions of corporate revival. It lays out a biblical apologetic for extraordinary outpourings of the Spirit. It clarifies key theological concerns. It issues a series of critical cautions. It concludes with seven key responses Christians should make to the hope of corporate revival.
A Common Vision
“An Urgent Appeal” is urgent because our nation is at the threshold of either revival or judgment. It’s an appeal because it invites immediate faith and obedience, especially among Christian leaders who will be needed in any fresh work of God. The document focuses on the whole body of Christ in America, challenging leaders to work toward a common vision for revival (consensus) that can spawn authentic solidarity in advocating for and laboring toward revival (collaboration).
From a biblical perspective, the appeal seeks to distinguish between God-given revival and human-centered “revivalism.” Since biblical revival is preeminently a corporate phenomenon, it works to build a solid hope that belongs not only to each of us individually, but also to all congregations, denominations, ethnic groups, ages, and regions. The booklet provides reflection exercises for each section, which move readers (especially small groups, like pastors’ prayer groups) into conversations that pursue common vision and action.
What if we were to pray for a great awakening, so convinced of God’s promises on revival, that we did everything we could do before God to ensure that, this time, it will have its fullest positive impact? What if we leaders determined to share such spiritual camaraderie that, despite all its diversity and complexity, a glorious revival would pull us more deeply together in Christ, rather than allow our confusion, suspicion, and arrogance to tear us apart?
In other words, what if we could discover the kind of consensus and collaboration that would ready us for the unparalleled wonders God could unleash on His people-and keep ourselves from tainting it with human desires, expectations, or agendas?
To further explore these questions, find the booklet on the website. Pray over it. Pass it along to others. Discuss it together. Then pray some more, because it’s a matter of urgency It could save our hides.