I came across this article several years ago, but it is worth the read.
Revival Begins with Me
Written by Keith Manuel
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Revival is a verb. Revival is not a noun. It is not a series of meetings, however long or short. Revival is a renewal of zeal in the people of God to love Him fully, to live for Him completely and to lead others to meet Him.
Some of the results of renewed zeal are deeper commitments to the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, worship, missions and evangelism. When revival occurs, unbelievers are saved and a spirit of anticipation of the movement of God is prevalent in worship. You expect God to move. You long for God to move. You open yourself to be moved.
The recent revival in Jena, La., is an example. Relationships were restored. Forgiveness of sin occurred. Two pastors I talked to have already baptized as many if not more than was reported in their entire association last year.
It is sad when the norm is nothing. To twist horribly William Carey’s words, some people believe that we should “Expect nothing from God. Attempt nothing for God.” What is worse is when no one is broken over the fact that no one is being saved or transformed. Why is no one weeping over Jerusalem?
The story is told that a student pastor came to British pastor Charles Spurgeon one day and was burdened that no one was being saved when the student pastor preached.
Spurgeon replied, “You don’t really expect someone to be saved every time you preach, do you?”
The pastor replied, “No, not every time.”
Spurgeon then said, “That is exactly the problem.”
We can lament statistics, we can produce reasoned causes for spiritual decline but we cannot deny there is a great need for revival.
I was in a meeting recently when the discussion of low baptisms and a lack of lasting spiritual renewal became the subject. Several ideas of why were voiced. Some stated a prevalence of apathy in the church body toward spiritual matters. Another posited that some pastors and staffs were not leading by example. Others said the problem was a result of cultural shifts in America.
It’s one thing to identify a problem, it’s another thing to find a solution. There are two obvious solutions: One is a corporate and the other is individual.
The corporate solution is that bodies of believers must recognize and repent of the sin of failure to be salt and light in the community where God has planted them. This statement is not directed at the church that is attempting to be salt and light and the community is not responding. After all, William Carey spent seven years in India before one person became convinced of the claims of Christ. It is a statement against complacency.
The Bible says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Christians quote the verse often, but seldom heed it.
The individual solution is in that Old Testament verse. A collective response is made up of individuals who respond. One New Testament complement of this Old Testament message is found in Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Paul deals with the individual so that in subsequent verses he can deal with the collective body of believers. When you surrender your life to the Lord, collectively the church can function as a healthy body of believers, using individual gifts to influence the world for Christ.
I truly believe the answer to the problem is not in “them.” The answer to the problem is in “me.” I can only control what I do. I can’t control my wife, my children, my pastor, my neighbor or anyone else. But, I have complete control of me.
If I humble myself, pray and seek God’s face, and turn from my evil ways, then God will hear from heaven, forgive my sins and heal my land. If I present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is my spiritual worship. If I will not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind, then I may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Nothing will happen in my church collectively, if it doesn’t begin in me individually.
Revival is a verb. It is a verb that needs a subject — me.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team.