Wednesday, November 04, 2009
My Jesus Movement Story on Revival
When I first read the review of Nobel Prize winner Robert Fogel's book, The Fourth Great Awakening, I experienced a range of emotions from stunned, excited, frustrated and fascinated to saddened. Here was an expert in economics from the University of Chicago whose studies convinced him that revivals and awakenings in American history were having an amazingly high impact on our economy, the ways we work and how we see life. That is the exciting part.
I was frustrated because it took my over ten years to even hear of Dr. Fogel and I think I am well read about such things. Even more frustrating was the fact that I have never even met another Christian leader or scholar who has heard of Fogel or the Fourth Great Awakening. Wow! No wonder the church is losing its impact on the culture. We are unaware of one of the most important works about contemporary society that has ever been written.
Here is the third reason for my sadness and frustration. I am a product of the Jesus Movement and it was that national and international move of the Holy Spirit that spawned The Fourth Great Awakening. For many years I had a hunch that the move of God among Baby Boomer college students and young adults was a significant event in God's overall plan to redeem the world but Fogel gave me a historic perspective as well as economic insight into how God moves nations and their institutions.
I am a microcosm of how God works and how God did work to change millions in the Jesus Movement. Reading that book gave me an understanding how God used organizations, movements, governments and churches to push a larger agenda in the world and how long it takes to move all the pieces around on the chess board to accomplish His will. (For example, how many generations it took to rid America of slavery through revivals, education, books, magazines, marches and awakenings.)
I came to Cincinnati as an Associate Dean in 1967. God's Spirit was moving on me but I was so young and unlearned that the inspiration He offered me was not focused or wisely released. I was asked to leave my church because I was actually but unknowingly practising one of the most important tenets of an awakening.
I started Bible study groups in homes and that radical step of independence from church authority scared the leaders who gave me "the left foot of fellowship". These groups focused on encouraging members to 1. Seek God directly in prayer; 2. Hear God directly through the Bible. 3. Take actions directly o witness, serve, care for each other, etc because all Christians are called to be ministers.
These are the primary marks of the Fourth Great Awakening and they were great threats to the clergy and religious power brokers. They still are. Especially in the large mega churches and the mainline churches.
Unleashing God's people to do God's work in the world led to the most powerful and far reaching Awakening in history and I was excited to be part of it. I still am.
On October 2 Equipping Ministries International had a big reunion weekend with a time of honoring me and others who were involved in founding the organization in 1979 at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. I left EMI in 1994 to found Sweeten Life Systems but the ministry keeps moving along and says that over 500,000 people have graduated from our programs. Every class, groups and talk is based on what I learned in the Jesus Movement. We must "Equip the saints to do the work of ministry."
The church is sometimes gathered but it is most powerful when it is dispersed. When ordinary Christians realize they have an extraordinary God and take Him at His word to do His works. This is the essence of The Fourth Great Awakening and why Fogel won that prize in Economics.
Pass these articles on to you family and friends. Thy need to know what God is up to. If you know of a non-defensive, open to learn clergy person also ask them to read up on these things. If you are really brave, read Fogel's book. It will blow your mind.