31 Days of Evangelism Day 17: Evangelism and Awakenings, Part 2

Yesterday I noted three marks of revival/awakening. Here are four more:

Fourth, small groups mark these movements. From the collegia pietatus in the early days of Pietism to the Societies of John Wesley to the coffeehouses in the Jesus Movement, small groups can be found wherever the Spirit moves. The first followers of a movement quickly identify one another and band together. You will read about the Holy Club before you learn about the Evangelical Awakening, and you are not surprised to read how a small group of ministers-in-training in the Log College of William Tennent produced key leaders in the First Great Awakening. Before Billy Graham or Bill Bright launched ministries of profound impact, they became part of a small group of people who encouraged one another to spend their lives doing something that mattered.

Fifth, a return to spiritual disciplines comes with revival movements. Believers hunger for Bible study, prayer, fasting, and other signs of healthy spiritual formation. The disciplines, to paraphrase Don Whitney, become less drudgery and more a delight.

A sixth mark would be innovative evangelistic methods birthed in the midst of a movement led by the Spirit. John Wesley and George Whitefield did not want to leave church buildings to preach in the fields, but they had to do so, and in so doing, they reached a whole generation neglected by the church. Mass meetings by Moody after the rise of industrialization and urbanization, and coffeehouses in the Jesus Movement are other examples.

A final mark to watch for offers hope today, for it is a mark depicted in the lives of so many Millennials today: new ministries of social justice. Caring for orphans has often marked revival movements as much as church planting. George Whitefield built the orphanage Bethesda, “house of mercy,” because his view of the gospel did not separate his compassion for people from his proclamation of the Word. It was in fact the largest building project in the colony of Georgia at its time, and it still operates today. Francke the Pietist began an orphanage at Halle and led other social reforms while preaching Christ. Spurgeon established an orphanage, as well. John Wesley had a great impact on Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery movement. If we see revival, it will not be contained in a church building.

[Adapted from the book Firefall 2.0]