Revival and Mission Movements: Bed Fellows or Marriage Partners? – Part 2


PHOTO by Petr Kratochvil

By Thuo Mburu
Thuo is the director of Trinity Fellowship in Nairobi, Kenya.

I. Review of Last Week’s Post

This paralysis (between the revival and mission movements) begs for humility on both sides to view revival and mission movements more of marriage partners than bed fellows. They have an existential relationship which can only be threatened at the defeat of both causes.

How then do we bridge this paralyzing gap and save the revival and mission movements from mounting sentiments of incompatibility? Can we tolerate their divorce without hurting the purposes of God in our generation?

We shall attempt to answer these questions by addressing root causes for the said apparent animosity or incompatibility between the revival and mission movements with the goal of re-marrying them.

In so doing, we identify five core issues which promise harmonious and lasting co-existence in the proposed marriage: 1) Perspective and interpretation; 2) the goal, purpose and expectation; 3) biblical authenticity; 4) the context; and 5) the character and integrity of the advocates. Last week we highlighted the first root cause and in this post we will consider the remaining four.

Goal, Purpose, and Expectation

2. Closely related to a proper biblical perspective is the goal of both revival and mission movements. Suffice it to state that the goal of revival should be to arouse/restore the Church to her fundamental ‘being’ so that she can be pre-occupied with the missionary purpose of her existence.

Thus, it is futile to labour for a mission movement within the context of a church requiring to be revived. In such a situation, the mission advocate should embrace the need for revival and either invite the revivalist or mobilize for mission on the theme/banner of revival.

Biblical Authenticity

3. We must not tire of insisting that, whatever the interpretation and goal/expectation of both revival and mission movements, these must pass the test of biblical authenticity. The invasion of evangelical foundations by the twin evil of humanism and liberalism has, among others, attempted to mask the existence of absolute reality as taught in the Bible.

The fact that the Bible is trustworthy and dependable for all matters of life and godliness is neither a popular cliché nor a theological hypothesis. It is the absolute truth apart from which there is no truth!

Hence, the pursuit for revival and mission outside the purview of Holy Scripture can only serve temporal ecclesiastical significance and is impotent in hastening the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. Biblical soberness is thus needed in recognizing that not all ministry is service to the King!

Context

4. Like the relationship between a man and a woman before marriage, revival and mission thrives best in certain contexts. Attempts at marrying these two movements must then pay heed to contextual factors which feed each of them.

For example, while revival is preceded by spiritual decay and moral decadence, mission thrives in environments of prophetic vision and spiritual abundance. Practically, the excesses begging for revival will vary from one place, time and generation to another while dimensions of mission remain largely unchanged except in the mechanics and logistics of ‘doing.’

Character and Integrity

5. It must be said, and announced from the rooftops, that character precedes and exceeds charisma. On the other hand, all should be reminded that bad company ruins good morals. Revival and mission have tended to attract actors of opposite poles in terms of spirituality.

While revivalists lay emphasis on the charismatic dimension of faith, mission advocates appeal to the love theme of God for His people. While both of them are biblically tenable, their separation causes an indefensible void in the experience of the advocates.

In highlighting Christlikeness as an indispensable and premium mark of Christian maturity, it must also be said that, like in any other area of ministry, the veracity of revival and mission movements is directly related to the integrity of God’s servants therein. Therefore, apart from sharing in the passion for each other, revivalists and mission advocates can and should marry on the plane of shared evidence of growth in character.

Conclusion: And the  Two Shall Be One!

Having considered the basis on which revival and mission movements could be happily married, we now turn to the decisive question; viz will they agree to be married together? This is a difficult question in the contemporary practice of multiplied compartmentalization of ministry.

In attempts to improve effectiveness, the church has fallen into the trap of dismembering the Body of Christ beyond recognition. Hence, contrary to biblical teaching, we find individual believers pursuing narrow strands of ‘specialised’ ministry without reference to and oblivious of others.

Upon realizing the error, we seem to have found a quick solution without necessarily returning to the ‘Body’ ministry. Widespread campaigns at building partnerships and networks are, at the core, silent attempts to recapture the harmony and synergy expected of God’s people in ministry.

Though these seem satisfactory at the mega levels – often national forums – it must be repeated that revival and mission movements cannot operate effectively as casual partners. On the other hand, the two are grassroots initiatives rather than administrative entities.

The basis stated above presents them as essentially the two sides of the same coin of which one implies the other. Consequently, the most biblically effective approach to fanning revival and mission movements is to marry them right at the conceptualisation stage. This way, the revivalist becomes a mission advocate and vice-versa.

Where these movements are operating side-by-side, the onus is upon the leaders therein to recognize the manifold benefits of being married sooner than later. This act of repentance and return to Scriptural order will not only bring harmony but the fruit which is only possible in a marriage – multiplication and trans-generational sustainability.

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