It’s Pentecost Sunday, and now more than ever, we need a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit to bring peace to our cities, comfort to our hearts, and healing to our land.
Together, let’s pray…
“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I had the opportunity to participate in Hope at the Crossroads, a prayer & community transformation summit hosted by the Sentinel Group in Kansas City, April 25-27, 2019.
My faith was stirred by biblical principles of transforming revival and stories from communities where the Holy Spirit is at work. These testimonies and truths have become powerful fuel for prayer as we seek Christ’s heart for movements in our region!
“Extraordinary prayer starts with ordinary prayer. As you add extra little by little to the ordinary, it becomes extraordinary!” ~Jim Egli, New Generations
I was reminded of a message I shared on “Revival Principles from Nehemiah.” May your faith be stirred and your prayer life grow from ordinary into the extraordinary!
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 hermission 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…
In what ways are you pursuing Gospel unity and missional priorities in your community?
Sept. 29–Oct. 7, I participated in the American Revival Heritage Tour led by the Sentinel Group, a ministry focused on equipping believers to pray for transforming revival in our communities.
This experience–a prayer journey immersed in church history–was life changing.
Among many takeaways, I was impressed with a sense of responsibility to steward what’s been entrusted to us by those who’ve gone on before. With the Spirit’s help, I committed to obey Jesus by applying what He taught me. Over the next weeks, I’d also like to share with you some of what we discovered. I’d be honored if you would take this journey with me…
The morning I left for the Milwaukee airport (9/29), I woke up with a phrase in my mind and a song in my heart.
I come before You today And there’s just one thing that I want to say Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord For all You’ve given to me For all the blessings that I cannot see Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord…
The phrase was “As I Go…”
Although I’ve already returned, that phrase birthed this post, compiled from audio recordings as I drove (I’ll omit the Google Maps directions).
As I go… I go as a student of church history, asking questions to learn from heroes of the faith.
I take a problem-centered approach to historical theology, which acknowledges we each come to the table with specific questions and issues we’re looking to answer. In this case, our communities are desperate for revival and God’s transforming nearness.
I seek to respect characters from history as “voices with whom we enter into theological conversation,” Colin Gunton’s phrase. This space at the table allows us to chat on common ground and dialogue about differences.
As I go… I go as a systematician. Say what?
I employ the systematic sense of a scientist, asking questions and hearing whatever answers may come. I seek to do this removed from bias, to learn with a humble and open heart from the data that stories of the past offer us. We all get off the plane with biases from our upbringing, our spiritual experiences, and what we’ve heard in the past.
My goal is to be aware of my own history but not allow it to discolor the new stories I’ll hear. Behind our tour guides, we’ll hear voices, who like Abel, through their faith still speak (Heb. 11:4). This is the great cloud of witnesses, gone on ahead, and I couldn’t be more excited to learn from their perspectives (Heb. 12:1).
A friend prayed with me over the phone the day before my trip: “LORD, give him eyes to see the things that only You can help him see!” What expectancy a faith-filled prayer like that stirs in my heart! It sets my spirit ready to be watchful (1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Pet. 5:8). I’m on the edge of my seat excited for all He will reveal.
As I go… I go as a friend of Jesus.
This means I’m a disciple who obeys my Master and shares what He teaches me with others. Jesus said we show our love for Him by obeying Him (Jn. 14:15). In His final commission, Jesus calls us to teach others “to obey” all the commands He’s given us (Mt. 28:17-20). We pass on what He shares with us, inflow-outflow personal conversations.
This means… I go as a disciple-making disciple, seeking to equip, encourage, and impart to others even as I receive life myself. It’s never a stagnant swamp that ends with me but always a living channel, an ever-flowing river.
And we go with others. I’m not alone. Though I haven’t yet met them, I go with brothers and sisters from various streams in the Body of Christ with similar hearts for revival and prayer, for learning from our Lord Jesus and the voices of the past. I’m sure we’ll become fast friends.