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Recipe for a church revival

I don't know that I've ever really seen a church revival until this week. Yes, I've gone to any number of "revival services." Songs are sung, a preacher preaches, and an altar call goes out. Here's what happened this week to our group of 65: The guys on the team had g…
By Seth Barnes

I don't know that I've ever really seen a church revival until this week.

Yes, I've gone to any number of "revival services." Songs are sung, a preacher preaches, and an altar call goes out.

Here's what happened this week to our group of 65:

The guys on the team had gotten together at training camp six weeks ago and had decided to go deep and be vulnerable and accountable with one another. They shared the hard and shameful parts of their story. They created a safe place for one another.

Here in Guatemala three days ago, after worship, one of them (he's done three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan) stood up and shared with the whole group at a deep level. He asked forgiveness of the women in our group. I prayed and spoke about how as men we had failed the women.

The Holy Spirit was moving. Many of the girls were weeping. One was sobbing. We had to end, but I said, "to be continued."

During the day, members of the team thought about what God had been doing. A good number were under conviction. That night, after worship one of the women shared the ugly parts of her story about how her dad had treated her. One by one others began to share their stuff.

The theme was that guys had in some way violated women's trust. So many had father wounds. The guys had responded to these wounds by continuing to do the same things their fathers had done. As a consequence of what guys like the men on our team had done, some of the women had been carrying a deep hatred of men for most of their lives.

After each of our guys shared their story, he apologized to our women.

At some point, our women began to forgive them by name.

On four occasions, people had hated themselves and their fathers so much that they had attempted suicide. Three times God miraculously intervened. Two of our women hate all men and trust almost no one. We've taken time to pray over them and fight for them.

The presence of God's Spirit keeps getting thicker. People with deep wounds are being freed – people who were emotionally shut down are laughing.

Last night, I called out five people with a pastoral gift to keep ensuring that the sheep are tended to and growing and that this continues to be a safe place. We've met six times and people are eager to share now.

How to apply this in your church

This is tough stuff. Given how much it costs, it may almost be impossible. But the Holy Spirit loves to be invited in and will clean house if you let him. Here's how it could happen in your church:

1. Pastor or lead elder shares his shameful stuff with other elders.
2. At a retreat, all the church leaders commit to vulnerability and creating a safe place. They share about their sexual mistakes and hidden sins with one another.
3. Pastor creates space in a worship service for testimonies.
4. Pastor shares his own story and asks forgiveness from the congregation.
5. He leaves room for the Holy Spirit to move – an empty microphone.
6. People inevitably feel conviction of their own sin. If there is prayer in the place, some will respond by sharing their story.
7. The church becomes a place where authenticity and vulnerability are valued. People commit to being a safe place with one another.
8. Continue to follow the Holy Spirit.

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