Let me share my greatest hope about “revival.”
I have been a student of revival and spiritual awakening since 1985 when I was converted to Christ as a college student in Boston, Massachusetts. I know that revival and spiritual awakening are cyclical in human history. God is taking us toward a time “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos 9:13). In other words, there will one day be a time of universal revival. I don’t know if this will be in my lifetime, but the Bible predicts that it will happen. So I believe it.
Since I have been a Christian, I have been in the middle of several movements that were called “revivals” by their promoters. I believe that the Holy Spirit was in it, but there was also something lacking. The Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century transformed America’s social landscape. Recent “revivals” are seriously deficient in this vision.
Here is a statement that would surprise most Christians. Today in America, we are in the midst of a spiritual awakening among young people. Looking at social trends, some would doubt this. But here is the irony of our Godless post-Christian nation: I could speak in almost any public school classroom in America and talk about God. Ninety percent of the students would be open to what I had to say. There would be no reprisal because it would seem normal to these young people to hear about God. No one would complain. In fact, this generation thinks about spiritual reality far more than any generation in America’s recent history. What they lack is leadership. Every youth evangelist I have talked to agrees that this is the most spiritually open generation of young people that they have ever seen. There is already an awakening among youth. Every revival starts like this. The youth are the kindling that set fire to the old logs.
The problem is that every time there has been a “revival” in the past century, we find a lot of adults wanting to receive an emotionally fulfilling experience that will help them with their worldly needs. Mature Christians don’t need to feel “comfort in Zion” (Amos 6:1). We who received salvation when we were young already know about the excitement of being newly saved. Now God wants us to lead the next generation so that they can go beyond what we experienced.
What we need are adults who can lead youth to go to the next level. What we need in the next few years are older leaders who can hold “Second American Revolution” seminars for young people. There is no doubt that there is always a new crop of young people who are consumed by a zeal for God. But we need to be faithful to reap the harvest. Soon, as Amos predicted, “the plowman shall overtake the reaper.” In other words, once we begin to be faithful to the young disciples whom God has given us, we will receive many more than we know what to do with.
What do we need to do? The answer is simple. Young people are only looking for leadership to encourage them in what they have been called of God to do. It has been in their hearts all along. New converts need to be trained how to take the revival, not only to the mission field through evangelism, but also into the business world, politics, the media, education and all the power bases of the society. Then we will have something more than a revival. We will have spiritual awakening. We will have army of young people who will take back America for God.