As I read revival history, I see the work of God as a series of waves. He is never not at work in the world, for the Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh. Yet we experience this outpouring in what seems like a series of waves. A wave crashes into the beach and then recedes, only to gather strength and momentum to crash in again.
Each wave brings a different expression and emphasis. Much of this is due to God’s own wisdom and sovereign purpose. Some of this is surely an expression of the uniqueness of times and cultures and leaders as each wave crashes in.
My own life has been marked by two primary waves of renewal. I’m sure there have been many others concurrent with those impacting my own life. In this post, I am primarily speaking into the flow of revival history influencing my own journey.
The Charismatic Renewal began in the mid 1960s and was unique in the way it brought Catholics and mainline protestants into an emphasis on personal relationship with God and the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the expression of the gifts of the Spirit. By the late 70s and early to mid 80s, the Charismatic renewal had swept through the North Texas region and was impacting many. My own background was Southern Baptist and much of my initial experience of the Holy Spirit as a young teenager was part of the momentum of many with my background being touched by God through the Charismatic Renewal.
The 90s brought a new wave of revival. Overlapping the end of the Charismatic Renewal, leaders like John Wimber and C. Peter Wagner had become the face of what has been called the Third Wave of renewal. The Pentecostalism of the early 20th century being the “first wave,” the Charismatic Renewal of the 60s and 70s being the “second wave.” The Vineyard movement birthed out of this season brought a fresh emphasis on intimate worship and aggressive church planting with a refreshing emphasis on the gospel of the kingdom. In January of 1994, at a small Vineyard church near the Toronto airport in Ontario Canada, a new renewal movement exploded that was later called “The Toronto Blessing.” John and Carol Arnott have stewarded this wave of revival faithfully and the influence of God’s touch in this season has been felt around the world and continues to this day. Our church, Catch the Fire Dallas / Fort Worth, is part of the family of churches (both Catch the Fire and Partners in Harvest) birthed out of this revival.
But there is another wave coming. A big wave. A wave of revival that will surpass all previous. I believe this with all my heart. It has been prophesied for many years by many credible leaders and it is going to happen. I believe we are on the brink of it crashing in upon us now.
What will be the emphasis of this next move of God?
I’m sure my sense of what is coming is limited and only beginning to focus. But I do have a sense.
The Charismatic Renewal emphasized the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The Toronto Blessing has emphasized the goodness of the Father’s love. I believe the coming move of God will bring us deep into the exaltation of the risen and ascended Jesus as Lord of heaven and earth. The Father and the Holy Spirit are focused upon the glory of the exalted Christ and I believe the next wave of revival will surge as we lean into this focus in our worship, preaching and mission.
There are three ways I believe we can align with what God is doing.
- Focus on Jesus. In our worship, preaching, teaching and serving, our emphasis must be upon the proclamation and demonstration of the victory and authority and majesty of Christ.
- Focus on Jesus’ incarnation and ascension. Our communication of the gospel often takes the shape of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. That’s a good start! But in the season ahead, the gospel story we declare will be that in Christ, God got small and became one of us (incarnation). And of course, we will declare his death, burial, and resurrection. But beyond this, it is essential that we begin to teach on and declare that the risen Christ has ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven and is now Lord of both heaven and earth.
- Don’t leave behind what God has done before and continues to do, but rather build upon it. In focusing on Christ, we are not excluding the Father or the Holy Spirit. Rather, we are leaning into their very heartbeat and building upon the rich legacy of divine encounter and empowering that will prove essential in this next season. We will still lead many into the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the activation of His gifts. We will still lead many into the experience of the Father’s love and transformation and healing of the heart. But these foundational and essential emphases of revival position us to declare and demonstrate that which is primary in the heart of the Father and the Spirit: Jesus is Lord.
There’s a big wave coming. Brace yourself. It’s going to change everything.