Is it Revival or Networking?
This is not a trick question but it may as well be!
These days, it seems that one of the mistakes people make is to confuse networking with revival. A place that has good networking links to others is often considered to be experiencing the beginnings of revival.
Good Networking encourages:
· Young people to be involved
· Reasonable communication
· Social interaction/Media
· A Cross pollination of ideas
· A high level of organization
· A feeling that God is up to something
Is there anything wrong this stuff? No of course there is nothing wrong with this.
However the same thing happens in a successful business - and we don't assume God is doing something if Apple sells a lot of product that young people want to buy! Some (though not me), might even say that is the work of the devil.
Good networking skills may be useful, they help make you popular, but this does equal revival in any way.
Good networking requires:
· Clever ideas and programs
· Good marketing
· Flexible organisation
· Concepts that catch the imagination
· Years of working and adapting how and what 'product' you sell.
· Making people think they are important and making a difference (whether they are or not). i.e. It's about market share. You make people think they need your version of church, or 'whatever it is'.
· A teaching program that helps focus dedicated time and 'whatever', to the church. Whatever, what works for the church.
· Attracting Christians from other churches. If you can't, it all falls over. Churches that support you, will lose some of their members to you.
· Church migration. Traditionally, it's the young that shift church.
· Dedication. There will be dedicated prayer, because it's what Christians do, but in truth, it's more about creating a sense of caring, and purpose, than the actual results. Enthusiasm breads enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, could be achieved in other ways.
· Does not need any (deliberate) networking.
· Starts through long periods of dedicated prayer, not organisation.
· Once it begins, it will multiply itself through more dedicated prayer, no deliberate networking is required. It happens because you can't resist.
· It is like an infectious disease, it seems to seek out those vulnerable to it. It breaks out! Wildness, it part of the DNA.
· It does not need much organisation, a little goes a long way, in fact if you try to control it, it seems to loose an essential element of its momentum.
· It continues through prayer and obedience to God, not programs, not leadership tactics, or fancy gimmicks.
· It can be scary because you have to run with what is happening, not what you would like to happen, and certainly not what is comfortable.
· If you stop the dedicated praying the revival will fall off too.
· Wildfire can not be contained, it runs out of oxygen.
As you can see, there may be some similarities, but the differences are huge!
It seems it has been a very long time since:
· Australia has seen any true revival (what about your part of the world?).
· Any church has allowed God the dedicated space to develop the gift of revival. The fear of failure, loss of control, and being sacked, stop most leaders before they really try.
If we treat revival like another church program option, it will never happen!
I'm sure thousands of churches have tried this with little or no result.
Networking and Revival are quite different. So what are the real reasons for the confusion?
The reasons, are all too human. It's back to those old issues of control and fear. We want revival, but secretly fear what could happen, and we still think we are capable of controlling what God can do.
When we have to choose between having a cake that endures, and one we bake ourselves, our stomach wins out (as it does most of the time!), we want to chose the cake, and hope for the best. Perhaps we are simply not sure if we will like God's cooking?
Later we console ourselves that we did all we could, and sadly this is true. The trouble is that Revival has nothing to do with "what we can do", it's all about what God can do, if we are willing to get out of the way.
It's all about what can happen when we run with God's options no matter how uncomfortable they are for us, or how afraid we are for our reputation and carrier. All of our fears are a waste of time (not there is a gross understatement), because God's options are always the ones more likely to succeed.
As ever – I live in hope of being wrong.
But that won't happen by itself.