SINCE SEPTEMBER, my adopted hometown has been known as “Ground Zero.” But once New York City was known as “ground zero” for something else: three Great Awakenings. The last one began in 1857, just two blocks from where the Twin Towers collapsed. It, too, shattered lives-but in a uniquely redemptive and life-changing way.
We could use a little spiritual shattering right about now Recently that’s what respected Christian demographer, Dr. George Barna, concluded. Publishing his two-month-long research into the spiritual aftermath of September 11, he wrote: “Fortunately, many irreligious Americans turned to the church. Unfortunately, few of them experienced anything that was sufficiently life-changing to capture their attention and their allegiance. The tragedy was another amazing opportunity for the church to be the healing and transforming presence of God in people’s lives, but it has come and gone with little to show for it.”
It sounds to me like there’s never been a better time, a more urgent time, for revival. In this column about a year ago, I wrote about a new document on revival-a distillation of work done by over 100 Christian leaders. That document, An Urgent Appeal to Christian Leaders in America for Consensus and Collaboration on the Biblical Nature and Hope of Corporate Revival, has now turned into a campaign sponsored by the National Prayer Committee, Mission America, and the National Revival Network. Launched at a 5,000-strong national pastors’ conference in Orlando in January, its goal is to open conversation across the body of Christ, helping thousands of clergy and millions of believers find common understandings of revival-and enabling us to labor side by side in prayer movements and as messengers of hope for a God-given spiritual awakening to Christ.
Throughout the winter and spring, “Living Room Tours” are taking place in 14 regions of the country. Hosted in large private homes, each Living Room event convenes 40-50 pastors to spend four hours discussing the Urgent Appeal, praying together, and planning small, six-week study groups to work through the document using its discussion questions. The groups are designed to address three main questions: Is revival urgently needed in our churches, our communities, our nation? If so, do we have sufficient consensus to collaborate for the sake of revival? And if so, how and where should we begin?
The Living Room Tours will culminate May 2 on the National Day of Prayer. Hundreds of pastors and leaders will gather in Washington, D.C., with the National Prayer Committee to spend eight hours in prayer. That evening a national radio and television hookup, involving millions of Christians, will allow these leaders to stand side by side to “urgently appeal” the nation to join them in consensus and collaboration for corporate revival.
During the ensuing 12 months, “Proclamation Teams” will fan out for return visits to the 14 regions, conducting citywide “Proclamation Missions” designed to bring Christ’s supremacy to the center of every church initiative.
Urgency is a word I’ve heard frequently since September 11. But for the drafting committee of the Urgent Appeal document, it emerged two years ago during prayer for our nation. That day, the Spirit seemed to speak one message: “It is time for urgency It is time to appeal to the church with urgency It is time to focus my people on my urgent appeal to seek my Son for nothing less than corporate revival.”
Have you heard the word? Will you join the campaign? Should you make the appeal in your own church or city?
A schedule for the “National Living Room Tours” plus an e-book form of the 7th edition (January 2002) of An Urgent Appeal are available at www.urgentappeal.net.