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Question Everything- Especially the Box!

Jul 29, 2008 at 18:07

By: Steve & Marilyn Hill

It is clear that revival without evangelism is a dead end.  What has been revived will only die again.    It is also clear that Jesus did not consider the crowds coming to his meetings to be the height of his ministry.  The gospels tell us on several occasions that Jesus, “Sent the crowds away.”  In John 6 he challenged their motivations for seeking him so strongly that they all left except the twelve and Jesus  asked them if they were leaving as well!

Jesus was obviously not sending out fund raising letters based upon the crowds coming to his meetings!  We judge success by the size of the crowds and by the feeling of the event. He did not.  He sent the crowds away in order to invest himself in the twelve. His teaching and practice show us that he did not consider revival or evangelism to be events.  His practice shows us that he considered the most important part of his life was to share relationally with the twelve.  

Our teaching and practice that revival and evangelism are events judged by numbers and anointing produce several areas of question.  Most of the questions being asked about Lakeland, for example, do not go deep enough.  We question where the furniture is placed inside the box but do not question the box!

1/ Can you believe the numbers? 

Somebody tracked the number of decisions being reported by evangelistic ministries in Ukraine between 1995 and 2000.  Their numbers added up to five times the total population!  In trying to verify the source of this statement, I heard similar statements regarding evangelism in Russia.  Even if the numbers of descisions were “only”  equal to the total population the numbers are suspect.  One ministry leader with whom I shared this said, “Well, many go forward several times!”   Really!  I was told to stop questioning and confronting “or I would lose ministry opportunities”.

A friend discovered that his crusades in India were packed with already christians bused in to create a crowd and coached on coming forward in increasing numbers as the crusade progressed to create excitement.  The partner had reported planting sixty churches out of the crusade when he did not have a single congregation.  

Basically you can have as large a crusade in India or Africa as you can afford to pay for.  Things in the West are more sophisticated but does the media hype create the revival or does the revival create the media hype?   Why are miracle stories presented with such conviction but so hard to verify?  Why would the team at Lakeland tell one friend to stop questioning when he was seeking verification of the miracles?

2/ Where is the fruit?

Why is it that areas of the world which have had the largest evangelistic events in the history of the world, also have the most corrupt societies?  Where is the fruit in changed lives and changed societies?

Why did one of the worst genocides in recent history happen in an area of the world which was the most evangelized?  The Great Lakes region of Africa?  Rwanda?  It is said that Africa has been over evangelized and under discipled.

Recently I was in Ukraine and Armenia and noticed the scores of young people standing in the shadows.  Apartments are small.  There are no jobs and little money.  Most of the night the kids are there hanging around.  My question was, “How can we hire these standing idle in the market place for the Kingdom?” The response was that it was almost impossible since most of them had already been through the churches.  They experienced the churches to be the same as the mafia or the political culture around them which exists only for the benefit of those at the top.  Only too true for much of  Africa as well. 

We were a part of the revival in the Ukraine.  We had anointed conferences with healing and power.  We have our miracle stories but much of the “fruit” is back out on the street.

3/ Can you trust the motivation?

Revival is big business.  Revival leaders become celebrities.  We seem to crave our “Christian” celebrities just as much as the general population does their pop stars.  One result is that we wander into Old Covenant understandings of "the man of God" and "the anointing" and miss the anointed priesthood of all believers.

Why do we see such a rush to attend the “revival” by so many ministry leaders?  Why does “come and get some” have such an appeal?   Why do we not question the obvious materialism of our celebrities?

The short answer is that we want the ministry fame, celebrity status and life style as well.  We want the "man of God" status as well.  The short answer is that we trust “it will break out” in our ministry.  This is a ponzi scheme.   So the christians flock for a while and the world remains untouched.

Does God meet genuinely hungry folks in this process.  Of course.  Does everyone have wrong motivations?  Of course not.  

But over the past thirty years we have seen several of these moves of revival move through the charismatic church.  The church world gets excited.  The meetings begin high and slowly wind down and the world remains mostly oblilvious to what has happened.  Then the church waits for the next big thing.

4/ What is real?

We know of the revival in China.  We know of the church planting movements in some of the most radical Hindu or Moslem parts of the world. They cannot do “revival” meetings.  They have no TV ministries, no radio ministries, no mega churches, no schools of minisry, no best selling authors and no leaders with celebrity life styles.  They have martyrs, leaders in jail and leaders on the run.  Some of them are my friends.

They know that Jesus did not command us to count descision cards.  They know that Jesus commanded us to make disciples.  They know that Jesus commanded a simple lifestyle of sacrificial giving.  They know that disciple making is a relational process not a series of events.  They practice discipling unto a decision. They understand why Jesus sent the crowds away and invested His life in a few.  

You cannot obey the commands of Jesus from a platform.  You can only do so house to house and relationship to relationship.  You cannot “love one another” through a TV show.  You can share information but you cannot do life transformation. Do we not understand that we have tried to reduce a face to face, heart to heart relational process to a performance event?  It simply cannot be done!  It could be aruged from fruit and from the New Testament that our western media presentation is simply counter productive or even destructive of kingdom culture.

We know about the revival in China but we do not want to learn its lessons.  We want platforms, and celebrity life styles.  We do not want to pay the price in humility and servanthood to do the commands of Jesus one life at a time.  

When you are on the platform, you are the most important person in the room.  Anyone in the crowd could leave and never be missed.  When you are in the home of a man of peace in obedience to Luke 10,  you are always the servant and the one you are sharing with is the most important person in the room.  That is what Jesus wants to multiply!

Where friends are simply doing the commands of Jesus, they are seeing continous revival and   fruitful evangelism.  Mass movement into the Kingdom most often does not come from the center of society.  It comes from the fringes.  It comes from the edges when we begin to do the one another stuff with the least.  Kingdom multiplication comes when invest our lives in the few and teach them to do the same.

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