Are you part of a NEW WINE ARMY that is DONE with church as usual?
I wrote this several years ago as a traveling preacher. My viewpoint has not changed now that I have planted a new church in Branson, Missouri:
I know I carry a critical message in this end time season. There is a desperate need for awakening and activation, and I desire to be a part of that.However, I have no desire to leave my family and travel to various churches if those churches aren’t ready for the deposit I’m called to leave.
I’m done with nice Sunday services where the people resist the depths, are reluctant to contend and are more interested in getting out on time. I’m done.Pastors, train your people to groan in the Spirit. Turn Sundays into prayer meetings. Blaze the trail toward revival.A quick, one hour sermon just won’t cut it. A little worship and a nice prayer is laughable. Cultivate services where people never want to leave! Where are the revivalists? The intercessors?Church as usual is over and I have no desire to come to your church to preach if you are still trying to build an old wine skin.
Where is my tribe? Where are the burning ones? I’m ready to find those pillars of revival fire and contend together for an outpouring.
Church as usual is coming to an end—and prophetic churches must emerge to fill the void.
Among them are people who are bellowing out that they are “DONE with church as usual,” but, for some strange reason, refuse to shift into the new.
The firebrands are few who are truly willing to break out of the old wine skin and enlist as soldiers who are absolutely reliant on the new wine of the Holy Spirit. This is a rare breed, indeed.
“As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”” (2 Chronicles 7:1–3, ESV)
An Old Testament experience with the power of God should cause all of us New Covenant Believers to be troubled. Why isn’t God moving like that in our church?
The supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit today should absolutely blow away the encounters prior to the cross and resurrection of Christ and the Acts 2 awakening. Yet, here we are, struggling to break out of typical, familiar, comfortable and tired church life.
For decades, I’ve been looking for pavement people. Hungry, desperate Christians who are no longer looking for personal comfort in their church experience, but rather are ready to pay whatever price is necessary to see God manifest in overwhelming power.
To them, church as usual is dead. The old wineskin will no longer suffice. It can’t. The new wine they are yearning for demands an entire new model and they refuse to live another day bound up in the old.
Pavement people, as we saw in 2 Chronicles 7, weren’t interested in anything but the glory of God. God’s glory filled the house so powerfully that nobody could enter. That didn’t stop these fiery zealots. They hit the pavement and declared the goodness of God.
Literally nothing else mattered. They didn’t demand a certain order of service. They couldn’t care less about comfortable seats. They weren’t looking for friends or position or promotion. Air conditioning, greeters, programs, child care, predictable services and most everything else does not matter to these end-time, new wine warriors.
They want God.
A NEW WINE CHURCH EXPERIENCE
Pavement people have no patience for church experiences that aren’t fueled by deep, continual intercession. The glory of God has no comparison. The pursuit of wide-spread revival is the goal that causes them to burn white hot. Their devotion results in many sleepless nights as they weep over their city and cry out for the Holy Spirit to move.
When intercession and glory become the driving pursuits of people craving the wildfire of the Spirit of God, very little else becomes necessary in the church experience. In fact, they are so sensitive to the mission that they refuse to embrace anything that threatens the primary purposes of the new wine church.
As an example, at Revival X in Branson, Missouri, we are intentionally staying laser focused. This means we currently have no need to implement many things that are expected in old wine skin churches.
Live worship, children’s ministry, youth ministry, small groups, etc. aren’t currently important in the church plant. What is? Prayer. Intercession. Glory. Fire. Equipping. Deliverance.
Will we implement some of this in time? Possibly. Probably. Eventually. It must be done with great care so as not to distract from the primary purpose of the church. Additions will only come as they reinforce, support and give strength to intercession and revival.
The call is for all to pray as wild men and women, consumed with the fire of the Holy Spirit, allowing dreams, visions and a strong prophetic spirit to emerge. We must be trained in the fire, by the Fire, the Holy Spirit.
If you are “done with church as usual,” then get risky. Get out of the boat. Quit expecting “needs” of old to be met. Break out of old patterns and systems.
Don’t expect the new wine church to look anything like the old. The programs and purposes are going to shift dramatically. You will have to go deep in the Spirit, deep in intercession and develop a radically consecrated, holy, on-fire life of surrender. Literally nothing else will matter in comparison with your pursuit of God and revival.
A key reason pastors don’t steer their churches in this direction of Spirit-driven, prayer-fueled, revival-focused and risky ministry is they know few will respond positively.
What would happen if your pastor suddenly cancelled everything they do except for prayer and equipping?
What if they eliminated live worship and let the worship team get renewed in prayer for a year?
What would you do if there was no longer children’s ministry or youth ministry?
What about eliminating programs and ministries that you feel are extremely important?
How would you handle the shift? Would you take on your call to pray without ceasing? Would you go deep? Would you become the revivalist you were born to be?
Or would you complain, gossip, get frustrated, question leadership and look for a new, comfortable, old wine skin church?
I pray you’d accept nothing but the new wine. You’d be part of a very rare, special, end-time, remnant army that the world is waiting for.
Could you not pray for one hour? ~Jesus
Prayer doesn’t typically come naturally. Actually, it comes supernaturally, but even so, there is a learning curve.
At Revival X, I am excited about the opportunity to help train hungry people in the art and science of impactful, fiery, powerful and supernatural intercession. Once we are struck by the shock and awe of prophetic prayer, we will crave interacting with God night and day.
Could you not pray for one hour? The obvious answer is no. The couldn’t. Or, actually, they didn’t. They could have. They should have, but the impetus was not there. The passion had faded. The urgency was gone. Carrying the burden of another requires we are impacted by the Spirit of God at a pretty deep level. This is what makes an intercessor.
This isn’t an involved teaching on the matter (that will come on Tuesday nights at Revival X!), but these are some simple tips and truths that will help make intercession much more enjoyable and meaningful. We’ll want to pray, without ceasing, as Scripture directs.
Eleven tips: How to engage in impactful, supernatural, prophetic and addictive intercession
ONE: UNDERSTAND THE ASSIGNMENT
Burdens for intercession become weighty and tangible when we understand, adopt and own the assignment. What is the purpose of your intercession? Is that purpose captivating you? If not, go to battle over your mind and emotions and avail yourself to the Spirit of God.
The assignment might be naturally obvious, like praying for someone to be healed. Or, it may be sudden and unexpected. There are times I’m awakened in the night with a celebrity on my heart. It’s typically someone I never spend time thinking about, and I know the Lord has asked me to stand in the gap for them.
Understanding God’s assignments in prayer will also relieve us of other prayer focuses that aren’t as pressing or timely on God’s agenda. It takes some discipline to stop praying for what we want to focus on to make room for what God is doing. Doing so is the first step toward intercession that’s fueled by God’s supernatural grace.
When we become “assignment-driven” instead of “issue-driven” in our lives, our prayer lives tend to erupt.
TWO: UNDERSTAND YOUR AUTHORITY
Prayer becomes a frustrating exercise of futility if we don’t understand our authority. If we don’t know without question that we cause things to happen simply by declaring and decreeing, commanding and enforcing, then we’ll fizzle out after just a few minutes of tiring prayer.
However, when we acquire a revelation of just how potent and powerful our words are, and how atmospheres and enemies have no choice but to submit to our Spirit-revealed directives, everything changes! We become super-charged, supernatural agents of the King.
We move mountains. We cast out demons. We war in the Spirit. We dictate breakthrough. We condition atmospheres. We truly are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
THREE: PRAY IN TONGUES
Bold tongues originating from the depths of our inner man should be erupting out of us from the beginning of the intercession session to the end. If I had to put a percentage on it, I’d say 95% tongues, 5% English. The Spirit knows exactly what needs to happen through our legislation. The most efficient way for him to move is praying in tongues. There is no comparison.
The Bible talks about groans “that can’t be uttered.” These are overwhelming spiritual unctions that overwhelm and overtake us as we take on the Holy Spirit’s burden. There is no need for words and there is no need for intellectual understanding when this occurs. We can rest easy knowing that God is actively, literally and immediately moving. Faith explodes through tongues and groans.
FOUR: DECLARE SCRIPTURE
The Bible is true. It’s mandatory that we absolutely, without any doubt or hesitation, fully and completely believe it. We must never condition Scripture with our experiences, disappointments or personal insights. The Word of God rules.
When we believe Scripture at this level, our minutes of prayer can easily launch into hours.
Grab hold of a single scripture or a passage and decree it. Declare it. Enforce it. Meditate on it. If you aren’t seeing a particular biblical truth manifest in your life or in a situation, go to battle. Proclaim the truth to the enemy. Proclaim it to yourself. Command your mind and emotions to align with it.
When you are done, find another scripture and do it again. Another hour will pass before you know it.
FIVE: KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS
It’s safe to say that a lot of prayer that’s offered up every day, possibly the majority, is little more than asking God for stuff as we wonder if he’ll answer. This is a recipe for intercessory failure. Our faith plummets. Our hope fades. Our relationship with God is negatively affected because we don’t truly understand his desire for us.
The easiest way to know God’s will is through the Word of God. If he wrote it, he means it. Review the previous point and get excited about all of the promises in Scripture that are chiseled in stone. God means what he says.
In specific situations that the Bible may not cover (like what job to take or how to spend our money), the next point will help. Suffice it to say, intimacy with Jesus is key. As we learn to hear God’s voice, our prayer time will take a dramatic shift. No longer will we gaze up into heaven wondering where God is and what he wants. We’ll move right past that point and have great confidence in our prayer. It will shift direction from asking God to commanding situations. We will be a walking, breathing, supernatural command center, enforcing God’s will, not aimlessly wondering what it is.
And, during the “in between,” the times between our intercession and the clear revelation of God’s will, pray in tongues and declare Scripture. Enjoy Jesus. Develop intimacy. Correct wrong theology (like God is resisting you, or that he doesn’t love or like you). Simply know that Jesus is interceding for YOU nonstop!
SIX: DISCOVER THE PROPHETIC
Prayer that isn’t infused by the Spirit of prophecy is doomed. It really is. We must learn how to receive revelation. This is a massive topic that can’t be even summarized here. However, we need to know that God is talking and the things he’s saying are weighty. Our job is to receive the transmission and respond accordingly.
It’s critical to flow prophetically during intercession so we get the right job done the right way. We don’t want to pray for something that God is actually opposing. We don’t want to focus on a point that God says to put aside. This is where tongues helps (a lot). God will suddenly and overwhelmingly impact us with skyrocketing faith on a matter. He will tell us what to decree and how to contend. His will becomes obvious. What’s on his heart in the moment overtakes our heart. When the prophetic meets intercession, miracles happen. This is where the realm of wonders exists.
SEVEN: EXPECT SIGNS, WONDERS AND MIRACLES
When we pray, and when the prophetic is hot, miracles, signs, wonders, healings, revelations and great faith result. They become quite normal.
The key is that we must stimulate our faith and develop extreme expectancy. Tongues helps. Scripture helps. Prophecy helps. Embracing our assignment helps. When all of this is working with synergy, the Spirit of God will often manifest.
A prayer-life without unwavering expectation of supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit is a prayer-life that’s truly on life-support.
EIGHT: FIGHT THE ENEMY
When all of the above points are in play, they will ultimately expose the activity of the enemy. When that happens, we must fight!
Understanding our authority will make this an obvious next step. It becomes clear that the enemy has been working hard behind the scenes (and often right on stage) to steal, kill, destroy, disrupt, discourage and stop God’s activity in our life and situation.
The prophetic is an invaluable tool as it shines a bright light on the darkness. The enemy can no longer hide. However, it’s absolutely critical that we engage in serious warfare. The enemy doesn’t like the light, but he’ll gladly stand there exposed if he knows we aren’t going to do anything about him and his schemes.
NINE: COMMAND VS. PETITION
If there anything that will kill a life of prayer it’s petition.
Yes, there are times to petition God. Scripture is clear about this. However, when we become petition-dominant in our prayer, our faith plummets. So much of what people petition God for has already been settled and revealed in Scripture.
So much more would be made known prophetically if we had fine-tuned that spiritual skill. Remember, part of our responsibility in prayer is to discover what God’s will is. Very often, his will is ready to be revealed, or at least the part that we need to know in the moment is. We just need to find it. Most often, petition is not the quickest way there.
TEN: FOCUS OUTWARD NOT INWARD
If I had to guess, nine times out of ten people pray about themselves or issues that directly impact them. There’s a time for this, but it’s certainly not ninety percent of the time.
Intercession demands we take on the issues on God’s heart. Keep in mind the assignment most usually will be mission oriented. Our call is to pray for souls, to contend for revival, to push back the enemy, to stand in the gap for others, to invade the darkness, to heal the sick, and on and on.
Intercession that’s focused outward is exponentially more potent than prayer for ourselves. Again, there’s a time to pray for our own situation. Even daily we can give time and energy to this. We can go to God with our desire for personal growth, concerns, questions and other such communication. We just need to know that staying in that place will drain us and weaken our faith. We were created to advance and to fight for others.
This is one reason why I personally feel prayer meetings at church shouldn’t focus much on their own church. Church growth, church needs, church challenges, etc. can be hit briefly in prayer, but don’t dwell there. Camp out on intercession for the city, for revival, for transformation and for regional and national issues.
ELEVEN: JUST DO IT
No matter the struggle, no matter how silent God seems to be and no matter how ineffective you feel your prayer is, do not stop. Go deeper. Go longer. Pray more deliberately. Intercede with passion.
You have to practice prayer continually in order to break through into new realms, new experiences, new victories and new revelations of how God moves through our intercession.
Simply know, God absolutely, without question, hears you, is moving through you and is training you as a mighty warrior of atmosphere-shifting intercession!
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER
Game changer! The most incredible, instructive and distinctive reading on prayer I’ve experienced in a long time. The writing is simplistic, refreshing and applicable. Every faithful Christian should read this to be renewed and empowered! ~Walkbyfaith
If, throughout the Bible, God causes men and women to do things that defy human logic, why do we default to common sense when making decisions in our lives? If God told Gideon to secure only 1% of his army to go into battle, which obviously defies solid and time-tested military wisdom, why don’t we consider that God may also cause us to advance in our lives via nontraditional and even bizarre means?
Job 11:7 “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?”
The message of Revelation Driven Prayer will help launch you into the unusual and deep things of God that he has prepared specifically for you.
The Coming Church will look nothing like the church we know today. Here are some of the significant changes on the horizon.
Over the last 22+ years of ministry, one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced has been effectively communicating just what changes are coming to the church.
The current church paradigm is so prevalent and saturating in our culture that people just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the shift that is coming. It seems nonsensical, threatening or just plain bizarre. They wonder how their ministry stream or focus or gift fits in that structure. The reality is that it may not, or it may be radically redefined. The discomfort level will be quite high, and it will take a radical remnant to truly sign up for the reformation—for the revolution of the church.
The disciples of Jesus had an idea of what it would look like in Acts 1, but Jesus radically violated their dreams, plans and comfort zones by leaving—and commissioning them to establish what they hoped Jesus would build!
Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, jwill you at this time krestore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, l“It is not for you to know mtimes or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive npower owhen the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and pyou will be qmy witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and rSamaria, and sto the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and ua cloud took him out of their sight.
The Coming Church
This book that I’m currently writing will be addressing some of the spiritual and practical changes that will be coming to the structure and expression of the church. Trust me, it will shock our nation severely. Those who hold on to a structure or a ministry instead of Jesus himself will not be willing to go where God is leading.
I call this the ancient and emerging church. Ancient because it’s rooted in scripture, emerging because the biblical structure has been largely forsaken.
What will this ancient and emerging church look like? Here’s just a small peek into a grand shift in the structure of the church:
- Services will become more like prayer meetings. One of the greatest indictments on the church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense, but it’s not. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. Every person in the church will function as a burning intercessor and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer.
- Personal need will give way to personal mission. Today, churches are often more like organic, socially driven hospitals. People tend to use the church as a way to meet their personal needs instead of serving it as a minister of God. This is going to change. Of course, there will still be personal ministry and true needs will be addressed. However, instead of the church functioning as a hospital, it will once again function as a mission-driven military. The mission will take precedence. The saints will be equipped for service, not for personal survival. In this ancient and emerging model, their will be MASH units that will take very good care of the wounded with the primary purpose of getting the soldier back into battle. Apostles will again lead with governmental authority and pastors will be seen as the main leader less and less as they focus more on shepherding and less on primary leadership.
- Teaching will be minimized while instruction is emphasized. Teaching is mostly for personal edification while instruction is mostly for corporate assignments. Today, most churches focus on teaching principles of scripture, providing truths that will help Believers navigate through their lives and giving nuggets of biblical info. While there will still be important Bible teaching, apostolic instruction will emerge as a necessary new ministry. There is enough Bible teaching online, on CD’s, in books and on video to turn every one of us into personal spiritual giants. We need to take it upon ourselves to grow. What is lacking, however, is apostolic leaders, military commanders, who give instruction, assignments, to a ready army. Teaching is personal growth based while instruction is a call to corporate action for the sake of mission fulfillment. An example of apostolic instruction is this: The apostolic leader gives a corporate assignment for everybody in the church to fast for a week and then show up together to prayer walk through the city streets. It’s a corporate call to action vs. biblical study. It’s mission focused vs. personal growth focused. Personal growth will be largely our responsibility between services so we can be ready to respond to the corporate instruction where we will receive our assignments.
- We will gather together most days of the week. The 24/7 church will again emerge as the church drives culture instead of reacting to culture. Cares of life will lose their power as we simplify our lives and put corporate prayer and mission ahead of most everything else. This may be the most challenging change for Christians. Today, Sundays are the days to set aside for corporate worship while we give precedence to our ‘normal lives’. In The Coming Church, the very reason we live will be to pray on fire together every day, receive apostolic assignments and then move out into our lives as Kingdom ambassadors. It wouldn’t be surprising if a tithe of our time is what became the standard. Two to three hours a day, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon or evening, or even in the late night hours, will be given by every Believer to praying on site together with others, ministering, and giving ourselves to intercession fueled Kingdom ministry. Of course, much of what we have been giving ourselves to will have to be eliminated so we have the time necessary to devote.
- Worship will be supernaturally driven. There is a new sound coming to worship, and it’s not simply a new style. There is a supernatural, otherworldly groan of intercessory worship that will explode out of the entire body as a new breed of trembling worship leaders lead the way into the shock and awe of the glory of God. We will no longer simply sit in a pew or stand with a raised hand while a familiar worship song is sung. The prophetic, groaning sounds of Holy Spirit facilitated worship will make it normal to shake and fall to our faces as we cry Holy! The natural, logical sing-a-longs will be no more. We will have a hard time standing as God’s Shekinah and Kabod glory resides in his church. Worship teams will practice less and pray in the Spirit with tears in their eyes more.
Of course, this is an extremely limited glance into the many, many changes that are coming. I wanted to share this to provoke you to preparation. There is much that you and I enjoy in the church, or that is comfortable to us, that we will have to let go. Again, the coming church will be troubling and shocking, but it will result in the power and life that we have been crying out for.
God is about to answer that cry.
I strongly recommend that you read my book 20 Element of Revival. That book reveals much of the shift that we must embrace right now. If you truly take in all that it has to say, you’ll never participate in the church the same way again.
Churches that don’t fan the flames of intense Holy Spirit activity need to go.
Like so many, I’m crying out for an earth-shocking move of God, an undeniable invasion of supernatural power that will drive us to our knees. The tears and the tremble that result will never leave us. Our very reason for existing will shift in an instant knowing we have just encountered Deity.
The church has both the call and the authority to usher in such a holy visitation. Tragically, many have left the church with deep frustrations, giving up after holding out such high hope that revival would be the prime focus. Hosting the presence of God with the ultimate goal of igniting a regional outpouring is simply not the supreme motive of most churches today. Sure, many pastors and leaders would give a hearty head nod to the idea, but when it’s time to contend, those who have refused to put down the weapons of warfare are few.
EMBRACE THE WEIRD
A pastor friend of mine recently mentioned the reason why so many in his Charismatic/Pentecostal denomination shy away from pursuing revival. They are “afraid of weird.”
I’ve said often that as a leader, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. I fully embrace the weird. We need pastors who no longer care very much about how many mortals they have in the pews and start crying out for our immortal, fearful and omnipotent God to come! Oh yes, it will get wonderfully, supernaturally weird! Revival is messy, otherworldly, hard to understand and impossible to contain.
This is actually the problem. Many of today’s pastors and leaders prefer a controlled flame to a wildfire. God is yearning to blow the winds of the Spirit over fast spreading fire that threatens everything in its path. He wants to consume homes, businesses and all his fiery love can overcome. He doesn’t want containment. This fire must be wild.
NO MORE (SPIRIT-FILLED) CHURCH AS USUAL
Many have been campaigning for an end of church as usual. We need to take it a step further. It’s easy for the Spirit-filled crowd to presume they have it. They are open to the moving of the Spirit of God and, as a result, have somehow arrived. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If a church genuinely wants the fire, they can no longer shut up the tongues. Tongues of fire must be unleashed in our churches again!
How rare is it to find supposed Spirit-filled churches that are roaring from groans that can’t be uttered? The explosive, guttural cries of supernatural fire erupting out of the mouths of desperate people is a rare experience today. After all, that’s weird and many of today’s Charismatic pastors avoid it like the plague.
We are all familiar with a typical Spirit-filled church service. You’ll get some extended, nicely polished worship along with some lifted hands, dancing and shouts. Sometimes people will fall over when prayed for which is a sure sign you are in a Charismatic church. A long, enthusiastic sermon comes next followed by quality time at the altars. You are with me, right? We’ve all been there, done that.
Of course, all of what I described, if authentic, is very good. Very, very good.
However, it’s not nearly what is needed if we want God’s supernatural presence to absolutely overwhelm us. Revival doesn’t launch from such a predictable, controllable church strategy.
A FORMULA FOR FIRE
To take the church from tired, predictable services into the mission of revival requires a significant shift in strategy. Carefully crafting a smooth, vibrant, mildly supernatural Sunday church experience will never suffice. Churches that refuse to go into the depths in these end-times should go. They are standing in the way of legitimate revival in their city and are robbing God’s people of the opportunity to experience an outpouring.
While churches may be exceptionally good at any number of things, including growth, outreach, teaching, encouraging and discipleship, if they aren’t doing it in the fire, they have become a liability in the Kingdom. Pastors may be brilliant leaders with thousands of people showing up to hear what they have to say each week, but without the knee-bending wind of the Spirit of God howling through the church, what’s the point?
Here are some of the key steps for promoting a wildfire revival.
A REMNANT MINDSET
In order for revival to become job one in the church today, the seeker mindset of old must go. We have to be ready and willing to allow the majority to exit our churches never to return if that is, in fact, the required cost of revival. Pastors, find your remnant and burn hot with them. Until we realize the church is more about ministering to God than it is ministering to people we’ll never even take the first step toward an outpouring. Pastors need an army of locked-in people who aren’t showing up for themselves, but rather as sacrificial warriors who are ready to pierce the darkness as a single unit.
TONGUES AND GROANS
From my article, The Tone of the Groan:
Throughout scripture we see groans preceding a great deliverance—and this deep groan of the Spirit must erupt in our churches and in our cities now. The days of quiet, sedate church services built upon human order must come to an end—Sunday mornings must resound with a prophetic shock and a new sound of trembling people exploding in groans of the Spirit.
We need Azusa-level reports to shoot around the planet as we explode in supernatural cries!
In a skeptical front-page story titled “Weird Babel of Tongues”, a Los Angeles Times reporter attempted to describe what would soon be known as the Azusa Street Revival. “Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand”, the story began, “the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles”. Another local paper reporter in September 1906 described the happenings with the following words:
…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn’t talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, ‘Repent,’ and he’s supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, ‘The Comforter Has Come.’
This is the most important and most effective step, by far, in promoting a wildfire atmosphere. Instead of nice, catchy worship and other typical church elements, introduce the raging glory and power of groans and tongues. Literally, when stepping into the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, the atmosphere will radiate with supernatural power as everybody is engaging in aggressive, expressive and booming groans and tongues!
When pastors lead the way by engaging everybody in 30-60 minutes (or more) of continual, intense intercession at this level, literally everything in the church will change. It will shift from a low-level, mildly spiritual atmosphere that is mostly dependent on coercing people to tithe more, serve more and attend more to one that has people lined up outside the doors for hours waiting to get in.
I’m not talking about worldly vision or an entrepreneur spirit. I mean pastors and leaders must be living their lives saturated in prayer and the Word to such a degree that God exploded supernatural vision into their spirits. Dreams, visions and encounters will rock and shock them to such a degree that little else matters than running toward the fulfillment of what God has revealed to them.
Happy sing-a-longs, tepid prayer times, powerless sermons and a nice little family environment will give way to a vibrant, anointed, fearful and weighty atmosphere. Joshuas, Gideons and other bold, relentless biblically-modeled men and women of God will lead the charge into the great unknown. They know that only a remnant can get them where they need to go. Most will need to be released into the deserts of their own makings as they identify the few who have the courage to advance into the land of promise.
A PROPHETIC CULTURE
If authentic prophecy isn’t predominant in each and every gathering, the advance toward a glorious revival will be stunted.
While low-level, carnal, fake and invented “prophecy” must be rejected wholesale, true prophetic revelation must be embraced. Decrees and declarations based on the timely insight that God has revealed to that local body will shock the atmosphere with authority. The people, the remnant soldiers, should be trained and empowered to prophesy, and the entire body must be ready to shift and redirect as the winds of the Spirit move them.
Fire and brimstone preaching will have to make an appearance in such a revival-focused environment. Unapologetic calls to radical consecration are absolutely mandatory. Holiness and repentance must be a common thread through everything in the ministry. While an atmosphere of grace is key, allowing people to authentically reveal their struggles in a loving atmosphere, the severity of the fear of the Lord must also be felt.
THE WORD OF GOD
The Word of God must be read and fully believed, proclaimed and boldly decreed if revival is to be had. The mission must be based on extreme adherence to the challenging truths of Scripture. Those who know God will be strong and do great exploits, and the revelation of the Word along with an atmosphere of fervent prayer will result in a people who know their God.
Simply, Sunday School style Bible teaching won’t cut it. We need faith-filled, vision-driven and fearless proclamations of Scripture that rips apart strongholds and shatters the teeth of the enemy. We need biblical revelation that strikes us, marks us and wrecks us. We need the Word of God to pierce our hearts, captivate our minds and overwhelm our intellect.
THE SURRENDER OF CHURCH GROWTH
The pursuit of revival is a regional and national pursuit, not a local one. What I mean is, the end goal is not local church growth. It’s beyond time to forever surrender the annual goals of more people, more small groups, more offerings, new buildings and any focus on local.
If God starts moving powerfully in another local church in the city, pastor, you must shut your thing down for a season and support what God is doing on the other side of town. The goal is regional outpouring. The vision is much greater than four walls.
The moment the goal is the development of a single local church is the moment that church has been disqualified from the pursuit of regional revival.
I covered this mostly in the section about tongues and groans, but felt it necessary to doubly impress upon you the need for constant, fervent and powerful intercession. This is not a separate, side ministry that takes place before a service or on an off night. It’s not to be relegated to a side room or to be led by anybody other than the senior leader. It’s the most important, most powerful and most neglected ministry of the church.
The church isn’t a house of preaching, a house of relationships, a house of evangelism or a house of anything other than a house of prayer. That’s it.
Sunday services should be mostly vibrant prayer meetings. The cookie-cutter model we’ve become so used to must go. The worship, announcements, preaching, altar time paradigm must cease. The new wine skin is bathed in intercession, and every member of the remnant church must deliberately give themselves to it night and day.
We are far from revival. I hear prophets and preachers talking about how near we are, and I just have to shake my head and wonder what exactly they are discerning. In terms of timing, can revival break out sooner than later? Sure. But in terms of distance, in terms of where we are now and were we must be as a church to see revival hit, we are far.
The church must experience a reformation that will shock it to its core. It’s this shock and awe of God’s supernatural invasion that will never let us do church as usual again, Spirit-filled or otherwise. Every goal will change. Board and staff meetings will never be the same. Strategies and how money is spent will morph over night. When God visits, nothing else matters. The result will be a church on fire that prays night and day with ferocity.