Every now and then we need to go to our bookshelf, dust off an old classic and give it a reread. I recently gave that honour to Charles Finney’s Lectures on Revival. This book made me think and pray as I roll on my bicycle over pavement enjoying health, wind, and the occasional bug in the teeth.
Finney was an interesting character. He lived from 1792-1875 and participated as a leader in the Second Great Awakening in the USA. He has been called by some as “The Father of Modern Revivalism.” Wow, that’s one lofty title.
He was often criticized for describing revival as something which could be manufactured by applying the correct set of rules or formulae. Today we would accuse him of being too much into ‘hype’ or ‘emotionalism.’ I find reading Finney’s lectures make him sound quite opinionated, like he had special authority to comment on the conditions which hinder revival. He often took a harsh black and white stance on sin issues. Still as I persist to read, underneath his language I discover a man who lived with an unusual passion to see people repent. Repentance precipitated new life. And this life was extended to them from an always forgiving and extremely gracious God. Finney believed God to be eagerly waiting to revive his church.
Revival simply put is “God’s people awakened.” Why the need for consistent revival in our lives? “Because we are prone to fall asleep!!”
Now with that I resonate. Sure it’s an utterly basic and simplistic description of spirituality. But that’s what I love about it. Parts of me have been falling asleep. I need awakening.
How about you? How about your community?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if renewal visited us in North America in a fresh way?
One thing I learned from reading Finney is that historic renewal movements share common characteristics. Here they are. Let’s organize them. Let’s talk about them. Let’s pray them into reality.
Keys to renewal:
- Regular gathering places (discipleship units)
- Practice an openness and honesty
- Talk about spirituality in real life
- Deep commitment to meeting the Lord together
- A fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit
- A new understanding of what it means to know and follow Jesus
- Unity across denominational lines