“Revival” is not a word you hear very often. Growing up in a Southern Baptist church in Tucumcari, N.M., as a kid, I would hear that word on a yearly basis, and I also attended and preached a few revivals as I grew up in my faith.
I was visiting with a pastor friend of mine last week, and he told me he had just completed a four-day revival. I was a little surprised and interested in hearing about the revival. I haven’t heard of many churches conducting revivals any more or at least using that name.
A dictionary definition of the word revival is “an evangelistic service or a series of services for the purpose of effecting a religious awakening; the act of reviving.”
When I worked at Baylor University a few years ago, I regularly would play basketball at noon with several Baylor faculty and staff. I never will forget one day as we were playing, a basket had just been scored and we all headed down the court with our heads turned to the other basket.
All of the sudden we heard a loud thud. It was one of the guys. He was having a heart attack. When we reached him, his facial expression was strained, his color was changing and his breathing was fading. He was dying and needed reviving. Immediately, someone began CPR, and fortunately, the gym was equipped with a defibrillator. In moments, the man was revived, restored and alive. They rushed him off to the hospital for greater care, but he had been revived, right there on that basketball court. We all saw it happen, and we were thankful to see him alive.
Another definition of revival is “restoration to life, vigor, and strength.”
It is truly sad to see and hear about churches across our state and country that are on their last breath. For some reason or another, they have stopped being the church, the body of Christ, and they have allowed many horizontal distractions to drive their attention and efforts. They have taken their focus off of bringing glory to God, a vertical approach that in Colossians says, “seek the things that are above, set your mind on things above.” They are slowly losing members, losing connection to the community and have turned their focus inward. They are strained, and changing and fading fast. They are dying and in great need of being revived.
That reviving has to be a church-concentrated effort to seek to bring God the glory each time they meet for the listener to experience a real encounter with Jesus Christ. When focus is given to its programs, good books and good works, then the church is in jeopardy of slowly moving away from lifting God up and on a road to a slow and steady decline that can eventually lead to death.
I love what James MacDonald says in Vertical Church, “Instead of seeing ourselves as people trying to connect with people, let’s see the church as people trying to connect with God and help others do the same.”
I think we need to get back to using the term “revival.” We need that new life, that new breath and that new passion that only God can give. God knows we need to be revived.
Praying for revival!
René Maciel is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and president of Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio.