Marks of Revival Movements for Leaders

In 2014 current SBC President Ronnie Floyd issued a call entitled  Pleading with Southern Baptists  calling for a focus on revival prayer. Last fall Dr. Floyd asked me to address almost 100 SBC leaders about the need for and nature of revival. I shared with them five marks of awakenings gleaned from past movements. These do not represent an exhaustive list, but in my mind are critical for our times. The first two marks would surprise no one familiar with God’s work in past revival movements. The next two may surprise some, and the final mark surprised me, as it represents an aspect of awakening I missed in my years of study but saw clearly in seasons of real revival in my own experience and in that of friends.

1. Deep, burdened, desperate prayer. Matthew Henry said, “When God begins a work, He sets His people to praying.” John Knox prayer, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” As a boy, Jonathan Edwards made a booth in the woods and prayed five times a day. No wonder he wrote a treatise on prayer in the middle of the First Great Awakening.

Baptist pastors Stephen Gano and Isaac Backus sent a circular letter in 1795 to pastors of all denominations in New England calling for a concert of prayer, using Edwards’ treatise on prayer in their exhortation. Within a few years the Second Great Awakening came. A group of college guys prayed under a haystack in 1806; as a result the first movement of global missions on American soil was born out of this “Haystack Revival.” Jeremiah Lanphier experienced a prayer revival out of a prayer meeting in 1857 in New York City. On and on the examples go.

Leonard Ravenhill said when it comes to praying for revival, God does not answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer. For what are you praying in holy desperation?

2. A radical passion to win the world to Jesus. Movements of revival send believers into the culture to win people at all costs. John Wesley, a proper, Oxford trained Anglican, wrote in his journal that he doubted whether a person could be saved outside a church building. But when revival came he found himself reaching a whole population by preaching in the fields. Edwards noted that when rescuing people from a burning house, they had no time to fight one another. In the same way, when we focus on advancing the gospel, we build each other up instead of tearing each other down. In the Jesus Movement, a trio of pastors in their pressed suits came upon some Jesus freakish hippies sharing Jesus on the street.

“What are you doing?” A pastor asked a young man. “Sir, we are doing what you just talk about,” the young believer replied. Ouch. When is the last time you were so broken for a lost person you became less concerned about methods or being proper and more broken to show and share Christ?

3. Youth play a vital role. Jonathan Edwards said the Great Awakening was mostly a youth movement. I’ve read countless primary accounts of revival movements from history; youth figure prominently in around 90% I have read. Spurgeon preached to thousands in London in his early 20s. Whitefield preached across the colonies at 25. Brainerd and McCheyne died before they turned 30 yet we remember well their valiant ministries.

If you are middle aged or older, be aware: you and I are not likely to be the people who start a revival, but we certainly have the influence to kill one. What are you doing to involve young people and to allow them to lead?

4. Social justice: in awakenings, people are reach, churches are planted, and orphanages are established. Whitefield spread the Great Awakening across the colonies. He also founded an orphanage called Bethesda in Georgia. Spurgeon, Spener, and others had orphanages as well. Numerous other social enterprises had their genesis in revival movements.

Millennials love causes. If we want to impact a younger generation note this: before they will join in our causes we have to care about theirs. What are you doing about the brokenness in our land and in your community?

5. Here is the one I missed: in revival, leaders get right. Isaiah was the most godly man in the land, yet he was ruined by his own sin. Edwards wept in his church as Whitefield preached. Brainerd lay in the snow, coughing up blood from tuberculosis, begging God to save the Indians.
Leaders can so easily isolate themselves from accountability and thus from confronting their own sin.

Who is in your life that can call you out? Note: you can be in the middle of the activity of God and miss Him. I know I am experiencing revival personally when I stop confessing the sins of others and look in my own heart. When is the last time you were broken personally and sought God to revive your heart? God is stirring the hearts of many. Let’s join together, seek the Lord, and be available for His Spirit to use us.

Note: I’ve written a bit on this topic.  See Firefall 2.0 and Revival Revived.

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John Wesley’s Twelve Rules for Preachers

John Wesley (1703-1791) was one of the key leaders of the Evangelical Awakening in Britain during the mid-eighteenth century. Circumstances drove Wesley to adopt itinerant evangelistic preaching, an idea he picked up from his friend and former student George Whitefield. Once Wesley embraced itinerancy, he extended his movement’s influence by appointing other itinerant preachers to serve various “circuits” (regional networks) of “classes” (small groups). Wesley hoped this strategy would bring evangelical renewal to the Church of England. It did bring some renewal, but the greater fruit was the Methodist denominations that were birthed in both North America (1784) and Britain (1795).

Wesley laid out twelve rules for preachers who wished to serve as Methodist itinerants. While some of the rules themselves are not strictly applicable to a settled, non-Methodist ministry, there is still much wisdom to be gleaned from the principles Wesley articulated. The following is taken from John Telford’s The Life of John Wesley (Hodder & Stoughton, 1886), which is available online at the Wesley Center for Applied Theology at Northwest Nazarene University.

Wesley’s name for his itinerants was “preachers” or “helpers.” The preacher whose name stood first in the appointment for any circuit was the assistant, now known as the superintendent, who had oversight of all the work of the circuit. “In what view may we and our helpers be considered?” was another question. “Perhaps as extraordinary messengers (i.e., out of the ordinary way), designed-1. To provoke the regular ministers to jealousy. 2. To supply their lack of service towards those who are perishing for lack of knowledge.” Wesley’s twelve rules of a helper are still cherished as the guiding principles of a Methodist preacher :-

1. Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time, nor spend more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

2. Be serious. Let your motto be, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.

3. Converse sparingly and cautiously with women, particularly with young women.

4. Take no step towards marriage without solemn prayer to God and consulting with your brethren.

5. Believe evil of no one unless fully proved; take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction you can on everything. You know the judge is always sup­posed to be on the prisoner’s side.

6. Speak evil of no one, else your word, especially, would eat as doth a canker; keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.

7. Tell every one what you think wrong in him, lovingly and plainly, and as soon as may be, else it will fester in your own heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.

8. Do not affect the gentleman. A preacher of the Gospel is the servant of alL

9. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; no, not of clean­ing your own shoes when necessary.

10. Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them, and that for conscience’ sake.

11. You have nothing to do but to save souls. There­fore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want you most.

12. Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel, and in union with your brethren. As such, it is your part to employ your time as our rules direct: partly in preaching and visiting from i house to house, partly in reading, meditation, and prayer. Above all, if you labour with us in our Lord’s vineyard, it is needful you should do that part of the work which the Conference shall advise, at those times and places which they shall judge most for His glory.

“Observe, it is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care merely of this or that Society, but to save as many souls as you can, to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and, with all• your power, to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord. And, remember, a Methodist preacher is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist discipline. Therefore you will need all the grace and sense you have, and to have all your wits about you.”

(This is a lightly edited re-post of an entry originally published on September 22, 2010. Image credit.)

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John Wesley’s Twelve Rules for Preachers

John Wesley (1703-1791) was one of the key leaders of the Evangelical Awakening in Britain during the mid-18th century. Circumstances drove Wesley to adopt itinerant evangelistic preaching, an idea he picked up from his friend and former student George Whitefield. Once Wesley embraced itinerancy, he extended his movement’s influence by appointing other itinerant preachers to serve various “circuits” (regional networks) of “classes” (small groups)–Wesley hoped this strategy would bring evangelical renewal to the Church of England. It did bring some renewal, but the greater fruit was the Methodist denominations that were birthed in both North America (1784) and Britain (1795).

Wesley laid out twelve rules for preachers who wished to serve as Methodist itinerants. While some of the rules themselves are not strictly applicable to a settled, non-Methodist ministry, there is still much wisdom to be gleaned from the principles Wesley articulated. The following is taken from John Telford’s The Life of John Wesley (Hodder & Stoughton, 1886), which is available online at the Wesley Center for Applied Theology at Northwest Nazarene University.

Wesley’s name for his itinerants was “preachers” or “helpers.” The preacher whose name stood first in the appointment for any circuit was the assistant, now known as the superintendent, who had oversight of all the work of the circuit. “In what view may we and our helpers be considered?” was another question. “Perhaps as extraordinary messengers (i.e., out of the ordinary way), designed-1. To provoke the regular ministers to jealousy. 2. To supply their lack of service towards those who are perishing for lack of knowledge.” Wesley’s twelve rules of a helper are still cherished as the guiding principles of a Methodist preacher :-

1. Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time, nor spend more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

2. Be serious. Let your motto be, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.

3. Converse sparingly and cautiously with women, particularly with young women.

4. Take no step towards marriage without solemn prayer to God and consulting with your brethren.

5. Believe evil of no one unless fully proved; take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction you can on everything. You know the judge is always sup­posed to be on the prisoner’s side.

6. Speak evil of no one, else your word, especially, would eat as doth a canker; keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.

7. Tell every one what you think wrong in him, lovingly and plainly, and as soon as may be, else it will fester in your own heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.

8. Do not affect the gentleman. A preacher of the Gospel is the servant of alL

9. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; no, not of clean­ing your own shoes when necessary.

10. Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them, and that for conscience’ sake.

11. You have nothing to do but to save souls. There­fore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want you most.

12. Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel, and in union with your brethren. As such, it is your part to employ your time as our rules direct: partly in preaching and visiting from i house to house, partly in reading, meditation, and prayer. Above all, if you labour with us in our Lord’s vineyard, it is needful you should do that part of the work which the Conference shall advise, at those times and places which they shall judge most for His glory.

“Observe, it is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care merely of this or that Society, but to save as many souls as you can, to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and, with all• your power, to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord. And, remember, a Methodist preacher is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist discipline. Therefore you will need all the grace and sense you have, and to have all your wits about you.”