As we began our revival history tour, I couldn’t help but feel the minister at Park Street reminded me of George Whitefield or Jonathan Edwards (but without the white wig). His message was from John 17…
…Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so He can give glory back to You” (Jn. 17:1).
The night before, our group gathered around a table and shared what brought us on the trip. We each expressed a passion for prayer and a heart for revival. Though from many different backgrounds, we were united in mission.
Park Street Church was founded in 1809 by handful of people, who united to address Unitarianism. They were clear about their purpose, emphasizing biblical theology, revival and spiritual renewal, and worldwide mission.
As a congregational church, they’ve consistently emphasized mutual accountability and the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9-10). As a church that loves the Gospel, they’ve hosted great revival preachers through the years like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, and Billy Sunday. They gathered 40,000 on the nearby Boston Common to hear Billy Graham.
As a missional church, they were part of sending some of the first cross-cultural American missionaries, who sailed to India in 1812. In 1819, Park Street commissioned its first team of missionaries to the Sandwich Islands.
Living out their faith through social action, William Lloyd Garrison hosted anti-slavery meetings at Park Street, and the American Educational Society was founded there. They were among the first to provide Sunday School for those without access to formal education, during a time when this was looked down upon as “working on the sabbath.” This calls to mind Jesus’ question: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?” (See Luke 6:7-11 for His answer).
Each week, 40-50 different nations are represented by those who gather to worship King Jesus at Park Street. I was blessed to worship beside a brother in Christ from Nigeria.
How could a local church be true to her mission for over 200 years?
“I have revealed You to the ones You gave Me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” ~Jesus, John 17:6
As we worshiped with this biblical, Gospel, missional church, the minister spoke from John 17 on what Jesus wants for us. The night of His betrayal, just before His suffering and death, Christ prayed for our unity. Let’s not miss the significance.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in us so that the world will believe You sent Me.” ~Jesus, John 17:20-21
This was Jesus’ last prayer for us before the dawning of a new era. The season of the Spirit was about to be inaugurated through His death and resurrection.
Jesus could have prayed for many things. Just as Park Street’s message that morning could’ve covered many topics. But Jesus prayed and the minister preached on unity in mission.
“I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.” ~Jesus, John 17:22-23
We so often allow differences to divide.
We underscore what makes us different instead of our Gospel commonalities.
We attempt all sorts of programs and expansions while neglecting Scripture, prayer, and mission. And we wonder why modern religious methods fall so short…
Will we learn from a 200-year-old church who has stayed united and true to her heritage?
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know You, but I do; and these disciples know You sent Me. I have revealed You to them, and I will continue to do so. Then Your love for Me will be in them, and I will be in them.” ~Jesus, John 17:25-26
Chime in. I’d love to hear from you…