Revival as Social Transformation

Charismatics like myself love to talk about revival. Revival is usually defined as an “awakening” of the church, when it goes back to it’s original state. If the church doesn’t look like the book of Acts – where a lot of miracles happened, thousands were saved and Christians were living a holy, passionate life – it’s basically sleeping and needs to be revived.

Some years ago, a woman from Switzerland contacted me via this blog and said that she wanted to visit Sweden “and the revival there”. We were honored and welcomed her, but we gently said that it would be wrong to say that it’s a revival in Sweden. Even when a lot of people do get healed here and many are saved when we prophesy for them, revival is the wrong word, at least yet. Revival is something more, revival is social transformation.

During the Welsh revival in the beginning of the 20th century, the prisons, bars and stadiums were emptied – everyone was storming the churches to seek God. Norwegian revivalist Hans Nielsen Hauge transformed his country not just spiritually but also socially and economically, so that one of Europe’s poorest nations started to flourish. And Mozambique is right now totally transformed by the Iris revival, that brings thousands of children out of poverty and plants thousands of churches in the power of healing and miracles.

My understanding of missions is that it’s three-fold: it includes salvation and eternal life, signs and wonders, and peace and justice. This is what truly will change communities and the whole world. We cannot have missions without spirituality, we cannot have spirituality without the Spirit, and the Spirit will always bring conversion, miracles and activism. I mean, why wouldn’t He?

The first church, which was founded by Christ himself and led by His apostles, changed their community, Jerusalem, through powerful miracles, daily evangelism in the Temple, and community of goods. This resulted in that they were “enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47). Everybody liked them!

A bit later on the religious leaders were outraged, but at least they made an impact. Some will love the Gospel, some will hate it even if well represented, but if the Gospel isn’t preached and lived nobody will care about the church, and we won’t transform anything. The early church “caused trouble all over the world” according to their critics (Acts 17:6). Lucian, a third century pagan who hated Christianity, blamed Christians for “despising possessions and sharing them mutually.” That’s the reputation I want!

And of course, you can get criticism for being awful as well, as the people in Westboro Baptist Church show. Just because you impact communities doesn’t mean it’s orthodox. But the alternative is not to be non-controversial, but to be radical the opposite way. Then we won’t just transform communities, but lives.

Micael Grenholm is editor for PCPJ

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!

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