It’s new and it’s old! Christians have been taking to the streets since the day of Pentecost, giving glory to God in public places and proclaiming the Holy Spirit energized truths of the Gospel in praise, as well as in preaching. This is beginning to burst out in England, as well as in other parts of the United Kingdom, with crowds as large as 60,000 gathered in one place to worship and pray. The Church in many places is becoming visible again with a voice that needs to be heard.
Graham Kendrick, writer of many praise and worship songs and director of Make Way Music, is spreading his vision for “Praise Marches” in the streets of many cities and towns in England.
“A lot has happened in the Church in the last 15 years,” Graham says. “There have been many changes and it is only natural that what was at one time an underground river has begun to surface. Make Way is just one means by which the Church has surfaced and become more visible. In many ways, it is an easier method of witnessing than the old-style open-air meetings.”
The vision behind Make Way Music is to provide the Church with the musical tools for taking praise, prayer and proclamation onto the streets of our cities and towns. Make Way Music provides a series of shouts, chants, prayers and songs which can be used in the marketplaces, on the streets, on floats in conjunction with parades. It is an effective way to bring the Church to the people instead of the people to the Church.
Although these happenings appear to be new, this concept has a legacy which is many centuries old:
- John Huss, leader of a revival movement in the fifteenth century, composed folk hymns in his native Czech for his followers to sing in the marketplace, fields and meadows.
- The Catholic and Orthodox churches still continue in the tradition of processions in many places today, particularly those associated with pilgrimage.
- The banners that often hang inside Anglican churches were not intended for that purpose, but for taking out around the parish. In England, Whit Sunday has always been a time for processions, particularly in the Midlands and the North.
- The Salvation Army took their brass bands onto the streets in the late 19th century. They were not always popular. The Worthing Gazette of 1883 described them as “excitable young men and hysterical young women who mistake a quasi-religious revelry for Godliness.”
- When the Spirit was poured out upon Wales in 1904, society could not escape its impact. For a time, the courts had no new cases to try and the taverns emptied. A report read: “The revival of 1904 united denominations as one body, filled the chapels nightly, renewed family ties, changed life in mines and factories, often crowded streets with huge processions, abated social vices and diminished crime.”
And now, this underground stream, which has renewed the Church in growth and vitality, is beginning to burst out once again. Many Christians around the world believe that it is time to take to the streets. It is already happening in Great Britain where over 200,000 at one time have taken to the streets to “March for Jesus.”
“It seems to give Christians greater boldness and somehow breaks the spell of silence,” says Graham Kendrick. And because there is a spiritual warfare element to it, Make Way can be an effective strategy to drive out spiritual darkness.
“But Make Way is not a short cut,” explains Graham. “Some think that by having a praise procession the betting shops, pubs and strip-joints will close down overnight, but I am more and more convinced that the message of Exodus 23:30 is more realistic: ‘Little by little I will drive them out before you until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.’
“If we really want to break Satan’s power in a town or city, I think it is going to happen little by little as the Church grows in holiness, purity, love, power and authority.”
The Make Way concept is now spreading world wide – large praise marches have taken place in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. Different groups around the world have been doing similar things for years, but to many, Make Way provides a taste of something completely new.
European church leaders are already beginning to talk together about the vision for a day of simultaneous processions in scores of major cities across Europe to take place in 1992. A day of praise and proclamation will take place in the major cities of Europe. In conjunction with this event, churches will be praying for the evangelization of Europe.