Are we guilty of trying to make church easy? Is being a Christian even supposed to be easy? Has our culture reduced Christianity to a simple, comfortable, relaxed experience that in no way resembles New Testament Christianity?
In the countries where Christianity is restricted and believers are persecuted the churches are flourishing. The church has always grown stronger in times of adversity than in times of prosperity.
It is obvious from the Word of God that when Jesus calls us to follow Him, He urges us to take up our cross and begin a death march. The emblem of our faith is a cross, an instrument of death. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who became a martyr for his faith under the despotic reign of Adolph Hitler, stated, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Jon Reed, Georgia Baptist evangelist, fears that our attempt to make church “easy” by streamlining the church program, requiring less of the members, and failing to schedule revivals has given us a microwave mentality instead of a crockpot mentality.
He occasionally preaches harvest days, but prefers four/five day revivals. Those give multiple opportunities to present the Gospel and see people saved.
HEALTHY TO CHALLENGE
Reed stated, “There is a greater work that God wants to do in our churches and I believe God-ordained revivals are one of the best ways to see this happen.
“It is healthy to call our churches to the revival process of praying, planning, and setting aside an extended amount of time for God to move. Many pastors and lay leaders enjoy and benefit from multiple day conferences and seminars. They come back inspired and motivated. It is also healthy to challenge church members as well to set aside multiple days for a greater work.
“If we can set aside a week for vacation, we should certainly be able to set aside a week for God. The revival fire falls from heaven when the focus is more on the preparation (prayer and fasting) than on the preacher or the sermon. In God’s prescription for revival in II Chronicles 7:14 God begins by saying, ‘If my people…’.
“God is more than willing and able to send a great revival, If … There is a contingency. We do have a role in it.
“It is exciting when coaches cancel practices because there is a greater work going on at the church.
“It is exciting when meetings are canceled because there is a greater work going on at the church.
“It is exciting when people ask off of work early because there is a greater work going on at the church.
“True revivals, God sized revivals, send a message to our communities. The world is waiting to see the church rise up.”
SEEING FIRE FALL
Reed contends, “People don’t want to come back to church on Sunday night to hear another sermon. Some of the very best preachers fail to get people to come back on Sunday nights. However, people would come back on Sunday nights if the fire of God were to fall upon the church.
“We talk about the Lord God of Elijah who worked wonders and made the fire fall from heaven, but in most of our churches, if people were to come they would not see the fire fall and would likely cry out, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’
“We use the microwave as a matter of convenience and expediency. The microwave helps us to complete a task easily and in a hurry, but it does not always produce the best results.
“A crockpot, on the other hand, is a slow cooker, but it contains all the ingredients necessary for a delicious meal and produces an excellent culinary result. Revival is like a crockpot, because it needs all the right ingredients: the pastor, the evangelist, the teachers, those who exhort – all the gifts God has given to the church.”
AN APP FOR PREPARATION
Reed has produced an app, an excellent, state-of-the-art app that is going to revolutionize revivals and evangelism. The purpose of the app is to help church members reach their friends and acquaintances for Christ.
“With this app,” Reed stated, “I am giving people an ABC method to help them prepare for evangelism and revival. It provides structure for the church’s revival efforts. It also provides accountability. It teaches people to pray ‘high definition’ prayers or focused prayers. It promotes the discipline of fasting. It encourages intentional acts of kindness. It challenges them to win the victory over sins in their lives. It also provides a simple way to engage the lost.”
Reed indicated that the preparation he offers and the app he has developed will work with church members who are genuinely saved, but that those with a “testiphony” rather than a testimony probably won’t be responsive to the challenges of properly preparing for revival.
The beautifully and creatively designed app motivates church members and Sunday School Classes/Life Groups to pray and fast and reach out to those without Christ.
“Believers want to be challenged,” declares Reed. “If they have been challenged to pray and fast they will be motivated to put aside their civic club meetings and their baseball practices. They will say, ‘As for me and my house, as for me and my club, and as for me and my team, we will serve the Lord.’
“If people begin to pray for ten lost people, the Holy Spirit will begin to open up doors to witness. He will lead you to a Zacchaeus in a Sycamore tree or to a woman at a well.”
SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER
The app is based on four biblical principles:
“Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
“Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II chronicles 7:14).
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).
Reed explained, “After working with autistic children, I discovered that many have what is called a sensory processing disorder, which means they are oversensitive to many things in their environment. At the same time they are very likely to be sensitive to the buzzing in a light fixture, to multiple conversations in a room, to traffic in the street outside, to music being played in another room, and to the growling of a dog in yet another room.
“Today there are many churches with a sensory processing disorder. There are many things distracting them from being interested in the primary thing that Jesus established the church to do – reach a lost and dying world.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DR. GERALD HARRIS
Gerald Harris previously served as editor of The Christian Index since May 2003, moving to the title of senior editor on June 1, 2018 and holding that position until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2018. Harris has written for a variety of denominational publications, including devotions for Open Windows and HomeLife magazines. He has authored four books, Pardoned to be Priests, Olympic Heroes: World-Class Athletes Winning at Life, A Gentle Zephyr – A Mighty Wind, and most recently, The History of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board – 1972–2017. Dr. Harris has a master’s degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary. Currently he writes at loveliftedmehigher.org.