Can Church Handle a Revival?


After the Covid lockdown and with services resuming, some church congregations have shown signs of repentance and revival. Is this just a spark that will die down, or will it be fanned into flame?

Much of it depends on the leadership team. From my perspective, reflecting on a previous revival in the late 80s, most church leaders are unprepared to handle the manifestations, both human and demonic, that can occur during a move of the Spirit.

The main issue is lack of discernment and because of that, lack of confidence. Humans can act in a very out of the ordinary way when the Spirit is on them; sometimes, it’s an unholy spirit that’s on them and leaders struggling with both fear of “quenching the Spirit” and fear of man, fail to act and inadvertently cause the work of the Holy Spirit to be questioned; humans who have been struggling with low self-esteem can suddenly find a new sense of purpose when the Spirit comes upon them, and wielding their gifts as a way of achieving some recognition for themselves can overwhelm others not only with their gifts but also with their brazenness. So leaders are challenged.

Charismatic churches which have some kind of healing and deliverance ministry have a slight edge over traditional ones — I say “slight”, because too many of the healing and deliverance people I have met lack self-awareness. Most healing and deliverance ministries that have any calibre make it mandatory that all volunteers should go for their own healing once issues are surfaced. Sometimes, they can’t discern that there is an issue.

I recall a volunteer who would repeatedly go into bouts of near-hysterical weeping during team prayer– clearly it wasn’t the Holy Spirit, and that she was using the prayer time as an outlet for her own unresolved hurts. I spoke to her privately about getting some ministry for herself. She declared that she was being used by another deliverance ministry as an intercessor and offended, immediately resigned. All of us heaved a sigh of relief.

Most traditional churches sideline the prayer ministry; the “team” would consist of a handful of dedicated volunteers who are tolerated rather than welcomed. I was fortunate to have a Pastor-In-Charge who was spiritually aware enough to sense that oppression over the church increased exponentially without regular intercession, and backed me in my efforts to recruit volunteers.

All this is to say that without a team of spiritually mature leaders, those who not only know the Word but have experience working with the Spirit, a revival is very challenging to steward.

Photo by Bree Anne on Unsplash

Jesus the Master Reconciler

It is difficult to be reconciled when betrayal occurs. If the betrayer still remains in the community, both parties would distance themselves. The usual reaction of the betrayer is to pretend it “never happened”, minimize it and brush it under the carpet, or just “disappear” without explanation. Or all three.

But that didn’t happen with Simon Peter. We know he had great difficulty forgiving himself when he realized he had betrayed the One he loved. Scripture records he wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). In a time of pressure, he folded. We can imagine the anguish in his heart, the self-accusations and self-condemnations as well as quite likely the attacks of the demonic on his mind. 

But Jesus, the Master Reconciler, knew Peter had a good heart. He invited Peter back to Him and to his destiny in a series of steps. 

Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

We know that after His resurrection, Jesus appeared by the Sea of Tiberias while Peter and two other disciples were fishing. When John recognized Jesus standing on the shore and exclaimed, “It is the Lord!”, Peter jumped into the water to meet Him, leaving the other two in the boat. One can imagine the joy he felt, and also the shame, the deep sense of unworthiness, and also the deep desire to make things right.

At His request for fish, Peter immediately went to the boat and pulled the net of 153 fish ashore — all by himself. All his actions showed “I am sorry Jesus, I love You, please forgive me, let me make it up to You.” 

But Jesus didn’t address the matter till after He had prepared breakfast and fed His men. The meal was important. We eat only with friends, and He showed Peter that he was included in His community. 

Then came the three famous questions, “Do you love Me?” Each time Peter said, “Yes, I love you,” it nullified each of his previous denials of Jesus. With each “I love You,” Jesus gave Peter a command. First, feed his lambs. Then, take care of His sheep. With each declaration of love, came an increase in responsibility. It showed Peter that Jesus hadn’t lost trust in him.

When Jesus questioned Peter’s love for Him the third time, he was hurt, and he again affirmed his love for His Lord. With that third affirmation came the command to feed His sheep, as well as the prophecy that Peter would die by crucifixion. With the three declarations of love, Jesus re-established Peter’s office as an apostle, re-established his birthright to be one of the writers of scripture and his destiny to be a martyr for Him.

Jesus is the Master Reconciler.

Bloganuary Day 6

Daily Prompt: January 6, 2022 — Bloganuary

He’s an introvert and wouldn’t want any attention. It’s rare that an introvert would rise to the top of the hierarchy, but — there you are. God works in wondrous ways.

He was a servant-leader — he said so, and he demonstrated it. He would quietly evaluate who needed help and who could stand on their own; and then demonstrated patience and compassion to those who were learning and gave leeway for them to develop.  As a newbie to the organization, I benefited much from his approach.

Once, I made a big mistake. He confronted me with it. I said, quite crestfallen, that the report was true. Then came the corporate meeting where the matter was brought up. My enemies had their knives out. I said nothing, waiting to be eviscerated. My boss looked at me, then stepped in and defended me. I was over-awed. It was a healing moment.

You see, I had spineless leaders who allowed me to be mistreated because they were intimidated by the seniority or social status of my accusers, or because they were friends with them, or because they just couldn’t be bothered. This boss was different. He had a set of principles and moral values he believed in and lived by. He was kind. And he believed in me.

However, there were those who read his kindness as weakness, and disrespected him to his face and behind his back. But it wasn’t really weakness. No doubt, he was pressed down by all the negativity directed towards him — who wouldn’t be? But he was giving them the benefit of the doubt while evaluating them over the years and then, he made his move — reluctantly, may I add. Again, I was impressed. Most bosses would have fired them in six months.

Some years later, with much more experience under my belt, another mess happened involving someone of higher rank. Let’s call him Fred.

I was in charge of the project and was working together with two colleagues and Fred. They were expecting the boss to decide in favor of Fred because the both of them frequently hung out.

The boss called all four of us together and asked me to describe the scenario. I did, in a few sentences. He resolved the matter without blame-shifting.  Then I asked him, “What about this person who complained about Fred?” He turned to Fred: “Apologise to her.” Fred immediately said Yes, and did so sometime later.

My colleagues were in awe. They were so used to seeing favoritism and cronyism that they expected him to exonerate Fred and blame us. But by that time, I knew better.

I knew my boss walked according to a different drummer and to this day, I honor him for it.

Starting a Prayer Team

Prayer meetings were either total chaos or totally controlled when as a new pastoral team member I was given charge of the newly formed Prayer Ministry in 1997.  

Our 5000-member church had a group of 5 Sunday intercessors and the traditional Wednesday prayer meeting.

The first Sunday when I walked into the prayer room to check things out, one person was singing, one was praying in tongues, another was flipping the pages of the church weekly. It was all “guided by the Spirit”. The Wednesday prayer meeting was the exact opposite — it had a fixed format led by the pastor. The first kind of meeting was intimidating and chaotic; the second could be quite boring.

One Sunday in January 2000, the “Spirit-led” quintet suddenly announced that the Lord had asked them to move to another church — and they were leaving immediately.

I was shocked at the sudden announcement, but yet at the same time, it was an opportunity to build something new. The senior pastor and I started a recruitment process.

By that time, I had come across concepts based on the book, Conversational Prayer, by Rosalind Rinker. It was a treasure. It established a protocol, yet there was also freedom to listen to the Spirit.

As new members started coming in, I trained them to pray on one topic at a time, adding to one another’s prayers as inspired by the Spirit. If somehow we were “stuck”, we listened to God and shared with one another as to how to proceed. Having that understanding and agreement united us in the Spirit and made it a great community builder. Members were free to choose which Sunday they wanted to come to pray, logging their attendance online; some loved the prayerful atmosphere in my office, and would come every Sunday!

Praying in groups of 5-6 at a time, sometimes more, the topics would vary, based on what we sensed should be emphasised.

In the 18 years of heading the prayer team, we averaged 35 members annually; I made it clear at the end of every year that if they were led to another ministry, they were free to go. It was quite startling to the leadership to know I had this policy, as the standard procedure was to persuade people to stay, even if they wanted to go! These small movements of some people leaving and others coming in, refreshed the ministry. But it was interesting that the total number of intercessors stayed constant.

Each prayer meeting had a sense of structure and yet liberty; a balance between freedom and protocol; space was given for the Spirit to come and guide us as we sat still to listen. There was freedom to learn, freedom to fail. It was a community of people learning to pray. We spanned the generations from the 20s to the 60s; there were people who had overcome poverty, others who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouth and everyone else in-between. It was the desire to pray that united us. We always ended the session with the group splitting into 2s or 3s to pray for one another; friendships were formed that way. Best of all was the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst.