I've always been a student of revival.
Since I was a teenager I have studied revivals and spiritual awakenings with a voracious appetite. I have scoured books about them and have listened to sermons on them, looking for the keys to revival, longing to be a part of the next great move of God on earth.
Books like George Whitfield...Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the 18th Century Revival (Volumes 1 & 2), Lectures to my Students by Charles Spurgeon, Movements that Change the World by Steve Addison, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by J. Hudson Taylor, The Life of Dwight L. Moody by William R. Moody and so many more...have been on my reading and re-reading list for decades.
But, as much as I've loved reading these books and others like them, I'm tired of just reading about revival and awakening.
I want to be a part of one.
Just a few weeks ago I was invited to speak at an event called Go2020 USA. My good friend Dave Gibson is the North American Executive Director of Go2020 and he asked me to do the closing challenge to 110 key national ministry leaders attending this catalytic meeting.
Go2020 is a global Gospel advancing movement that is mobilizing 100 million believers worldwide to share the Gospel with one billion people in the year 2020. Of course, this is a movement that everyone at Dare 2 Share, the ministry I lead, is excited about! After all our vision at Dare 2 Share is "every teen everywhere hearing the Gospel from a friend!"
Speaking to these leaders was a great privilege that I did not take lightly. By the time I boarded the plane from Denver to Orlando my sermon was complete. I was going to preach on the 5 characteristics of a movement based on Steve Addison's book, Movements that Change the World.
But once on the plane, the Spirit of God convicted me that this was not the sermon He wanted me to preach. After praying, He guided me to my new sermon. It was entitled, 3 ways to kickstart a movement based on Acts 4:31-33.
I was ready to preach it...or so I thought.
After a day full of strategic meetings at the Go2020 meeting and just moments before I walked to the stage to preach, I suddenly realized that the 3 points to my sermon were already in full play, not just nationally, but globally.
There was no kickstarting a movement, the movement had already begun, long before I boarded any plane. As I scanned my sermon and looked at the 3 keys to kickstarting a movement, and thought back to all that had been shared that day, it struck me, these 3 keys were starting to happen nationally and were in full swing globally.
Right there I changed my sermon title to "3 Signs a Spiritual Awakening has begun" based on Acts 4:31-33. If there ever was an example of spiritual awakening its the book of Acts and this passage contains all the elements that reflect a true and sweeping spiritual move of God.
Here is the passage and the 3 points I preached that day to these ministry leaders.
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.” Acts 4:31-33
The first sign a spiritual movement has begun is that...1. Prayer is being prioritized.
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit….” Acts 4:31
Just like the early church prioritized prayer, more and more believers are prioritizing prayer like never before in the US and around the world. Prayer movements are starting to sweep the nation and are sweeping the planet. There's the National Day of Prayer, 24/7 houses of prayer and student led prayer movements like See You at the Pole that prove this is true.
Do we need more prayer movements? Yes! Are we heading in the right direction? Yes!
As the old revival quote goes, "Satan laughs at our strategies, mocks all our labor but trembles when we pray."
The first sign that a movement has begun is that prayer is being prioritized. If it's not currently prioritized in your life, youth group or church, it's time to start!
2. Believers are being mobilized.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31
What does that word mobilize mean? It means to prepare for action. It includes the idea of inspiration, equipping and unleashing.
This is also happening.
Just last week The Send 2020 Brazil, inspired 140,000 young people to advance the Gospel across Brazil and the world! I watched some videos from this event and, suffice it to say, an army of Brazilians have been set on fire to preach the Good News of Jesus!
There's a national movement called Whose Your One led by Pastor Johnny Hunt and Shane Pruitt that is inspiring tens of thousands of believers to share the Gospel with others, starting with the one person God is putting on their hearts. This campaign is gaining tremendous traction in Southern Baptist churches and re-igniting this denomination's passion to lead the way in spreading the Gospel.
But inspiration is just the first step toward mobilization. Next comes equipping.
At Dare 2 Share, we are seeing thousands download our Life in 6 Words app and using it to spread the Gospel. This super-interactive digital tract is very effective as an outreach tool and shockingly simple to use. As we tell teenagers, "If you can swipe and read you can share the Gospel."
Of course there are many other methods for sharing the Gospel. But what matters, more than the method you use, is the Gospel message. After all, you don’t go into a steak house for the plate, but for the steak. The method/app/tract is merely the plate upon which you serve the Gospel steak.
But mobilization is more than just inspiration and equipping. It’s also unleashing believers to do it. It’s creating space for story telling in our services. It’s giving our people both opportunity and accountability.
And this brand of mobilizing is happening at unprecedented rates. Thousands of churches and youth groups have adopted the Gospel Advancing values. At Dare 2 Share we get a constant stream of stories from youth groups that unleashing their teens to spread the Gospel friend to friend and classmate to classmate.
Mobilization is also happening through events.
This summer Claim Your Campus is doing a huge event in Kansas City to mobilize young people to pray for, care for and share Jesus with their peers at school.
Also this summer, I'll be training 80,000+ men at Promise Keepers (July 31st - August 1st) to share the Gospel with one person before the stroke of midnight.
In addition, Dare 2 Share will be doing a live simulcast training called Dare 2 Share Live in potentially hundreds of cities across the nation this October. Teens from the inner city to the suburbs to the farmlands to the reservation will be inspired, equipped and unleashed to share the Gospel on 10/10/2020 at Dare 2 Share Live.
And, of course, Go2020, although not an event, is a Gospel advancing mobilization movement that is currently in 140 countries and rapidly gaining momentum!
More than any other example we are witnessing the rapid expansion of the Gospel in places like Iran, China, Pakistan, Vietnam and other places, typically closed to the Gospel. Churches are being planted like never before. People are dying for their faith like never before. And the blood of the martyrs makes fertile ground for unprecedented Gospel expansion.
The 3rd and final sign that a spiritual awakening has begun is that...
3. Unity is being maximized.
What was the result of the early believers praying and proclaiming? The answer is in verses 32 and 33 of Acts 4.
"No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.”
Just like the early Christians shared their resources with each other, more and more churches, ministries and denominations are sharing ideas, strategies and resources with each other to get the job done.
In a sense this is the answer to Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17, that we may be one as he and the Father are one! This is the same Trinitarian brand of unity that, more and more, is binding the Church together, not in some gooey ecumenical way, but in a deeply missional and unwaveringly Biblical way.
This doesn't mean that we all agree on the sub-points of every area of theology. But it does mean that we are all together on the main points of what I call 5 G Theology (God, God's Son, God's Spirit, God's Word and Gospel.) As it has been said, "In major things unity, in minor things diversity, in all things charity."
This kind of Biblically based, Gospel Advancing unity is happening like never before in the United States. The National Network of Youth Ministries is helping to launch networks of youth leaders committed to advancing the Gospel in every community. Their theme is "Better Together."
And we are!
City Gospel Movements is exponentially expanding to cities across the nation and around the world. This ministry is a platform to unite and ignite networks of churches and youth groups in every city to pray for their cities, care for their cities and share the Gospel of Jesus to everyone in their cities.
Together 2020 is another exciting example of Biblical unity. On June 20th hundreds of thousands of young believers will unite in Washington DC together to worship Jesus, honor his Word and spread his Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The countless examples of prayer, mobilization and unity are more impressive and encouraging than ever before!
When I preached at Go2020 in Orlando I saw this level of unity happening right before my eyes, Leaders from various denominations united for Christ and his Cause.
And then I preached these three points passionately. I made my case that the next spiritual movement of God had already begun.
When I was finished with my sermon and was about to sit down, the President of Cru, Steve Douglass, came to the front of the room. I knew that this was unscripted. When he took the microphone from Dave Gibson while whispering something to him, I got a little nervous. I honestly thought that he may have had a problem with something I said and felt compelled to deal with it publicly.
Instead, he addressed the audience by saying that he had a scripted message that he had prepared to share in closing, but he felt compelled by the Spirit not to share it. He was so overwhelmed by the day and the realization that a spiritual move of God may have already begun, he said that the only response was for us to get on our knees in prayer.
That's exactly what this room full of national ministry leaders did. We got on our knees and prayed.
And, just like in the book of Acts, the place where we were meeting was shaken in prayer. They were tear-filled prayers as we called out to God to enable us to steward this awakening well in our individual ministries. That day in that room we all realized that a great move of God had already begun and that we had the great privilege of playing a part in it.
And so do you.
I'm convinced that we are at the beginning of the next Great Awakening. Let's keep prioritizing prayer, mobilizing believers to share the good news of Jesus and centralizing unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As I shared with the leaders at Go2020 in closing, "A movement of God has begun. Let's not screw it up."
And all God's children said...