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I had a video call this past week with someone I went to school with 15 years ago. He’s a part-time pastor at a very small church in rural Manitoba and we were sharing about the kinds of challenges we’ve experienced. We live and minister in drastically different contexts, so some of those challenges are different. However, a surprising number of them are similar! During the conversation, I shared with him my conviction about the need for something like “revival”- a fresh anointing of the Spirit for making Jesus known in a world that has largely rejected him (and has especially rejected the church). And he asked a great question: how do you cultivate that kind of desire for revival in your church?
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Obviously, I don’t have all the answers to that question! But I told him two main things.
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First, we need to expand the vision of what the church can be and is created to be. A quote from my old pal Leonard Ravenhill stands out in this regard (pal as in someone I look forward to talking to in eternity). “Are we who still have coals of fire on our altars measuring ourselves by the fireless altars of neighbouring churches instead of checking on the praying blaze of our saintly forbears?” This is exactly what I hope to do by immersing us in the book of Acts in the coming months: to become more aware of the “praying blaze of our saintly forbears”. Forget about what is considered acceptable and functional in Western church culture. I want us to become aware of times in history, including right at the beginning of the church, when God’s Spirit has moved in mighty ways to bring many into the kingdom. Times when the Christ-centred loving unity of the church was irresistibly attractive. Times when disciples were willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Times when passionate worship led to the intimate experience of God’s presence and the purification of lives. My hope is that we will yearn for it to happen again. The 21st century is no different from any other century in the need for this, and God has not grown less able to do it. COVID is not somehow more powerful than Jesus. No human government is more powerful than Jesus. God has also not grown less willing to do it. His vision for the church is the same as it’s always been. What I’m urging is that our vision matches His vision.
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Second, once we have that vision, prayer is the inevitable focus and response. Why? Because we’ll quickly recognize that there’s little that we can do to accomplish that vision of renewal and evangelism on our own. We lack the strength, the boldness, the power, the love. And we can grow discouraged about that. We can despair. We can slink back to a reduced and more humanly-manageable version of what the church is. Or we can get on our knees and cry out in desperation for God to do what we cannot. A quote from Jim Cymbala comes to mind on this point: ”God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for his power.” This is what I mentioned last week: prayer makes room for God’s power. It is an expression of dependence, an outworking of our thirst for Him. And so for any church that wants to move towards revival, and for any pastor who wants to lead into this, prayer must be front and centre. 
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This is what we are seeking to do as The Bridge Church. We are creating space for prayer and encouraging people to pray out of this desperate thirst for the Lord to do what we cannot. And we are immersing ourselves in our origin story, familiarizing ourselves with what it looked like for the early church to be so abundantly fruitful. Our community needs that, and as a church, it's what we are uniquely gifted and called to cultivate. We’d love to have you join us in this!