This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #267, on the subject of A Mass Revival Meeting.
On September 27 through 29 (coinciding with the Feast of Tabernacles) an organization called Awaken the Dawn is planning a massive effort entitled Tent America 2018. In all fifty United States capitals and on many college campuses they are planning to hold huge meetings over several days, comprised of worship music and intercessory prayer. The hope is to lead America to revival.
I received an invitation to participate, but after some investigation I declined, for a number of reasons. I am sure that it will be a wonderful time of praise and worship for those for whom such meetings are worthwhile, and I would certainly encourage anyone to participate who benefits from such meetings. However, I think the organizers, at least at the Trenton New Jersey location, have made two serious mistakes.
The first mistake is entirely common in our present time: they have assumed that anyone who is a Christian musician is de facto a worship leader. As I have elsewhere noted, just as the majority of Christians are not what we call “ministers” (although all are called to serve), so too the majority of Christian musicians are not “music ministers”, and even among those who are only some are what we call “worship leaders”. Leading people in worship is fundamentally pastoral ministry. It’s not about standing up front with a guitar singing the right songs; it’s about being called to that as a ministry.
I say it’s a common mistake–just as back in the 1970s it was assumed that anyone who was a Christian and a musician was automatically an evangelist. It wasn’t true. Today the assumption is that such people are automatically worship leaders–overlooking the fact that a worship leader is, pretty much by definition, a pastor, although very few will say this of their worship leaders. I know they’re making this mistake because when they told me what they wanted, it pretty much came down to standing on the stage singing worship songs, not speaking more than necessary. I am a teacher, but they did not want me to teach even a little bit. Very few of my songs are “worship songs”; most of them teach. I also have talked with another Christian musician planning to play there who readily admits not being a worship leader, but who is planning simply to play a few worship songs; if someone else is leading worship, that’s fine, and I fully agree with that attitude of being willing as a musician who is not a minister to support another minister with musical gifts. However, it is a mistake to expect such musicians to be ministers just because they’re musicians and they know some worship songs. It doesn’t work that way.
The other mistake is that they expect mass meetings of worship and intercession to result in revival. I don’t want to say that it doesn’t work that way, but history and scripture both suggest that it doesn’t. Revivals do not arise from Christians being involved in praise meetings; nor do they come from intercession. Every revival whose roots can be traced began with believers repenting, confessing our own sins and admitting that we have not been what God wanted us to be. These meetings are not telling anyone that. Rather, they are focused on enjoying our relationships with God (which is certainly a good thing) and praying for other people. It is not until we pray for ourselves, ask forgiveness and seek to change our ways, that we are launching the roots of revival.
To that end, it’s not going to be songs like You Are My King (Amazing Love) by The Newsboys, or Revelation Song by Phillips Craig & Dean that bring revival, as wonderful as they are, but songs like For King and Country’s Oh God, Forgive Us. It is when we meet to confess our own sins and change our own lives that revival begins–always with the household of God.