by Joel Brown | article – Jan 21 Magazine

The global church has had the greatest interruption of her Modus Operandi in hundreds of years. In recent history, so many churches have never been forced to abandon congregational worship for family worship at home and virtual services via the internet.  While this provided many Christians with needed connection with other believers in isolation, the evidence is suggesting that engagement with this is dwindling. So, what is the Lord saying to His Church in this season? I sense He has allowed this deconstruction of ‘forms of godliness and ritual’ that we have essentialised as many of us have largely forgotten what truly powers the church and its mission. We have moved away from ‘our concrete traditional temples’ of comfort to examine what the body of Christ really looks like, who we are, what we do and how we go about it.

God showed me two pictures on November 23, 2019. A steam locomotive and an electric train.

1. Electric trains are faster, more efficient, eco-friendly and fully automated.

2. Steam locomotives are the original template for trains but are slower, messy and rely on ever-burning fire and water to power its steam engine.

In both pictures, God was helping me to understand how a revival is powered and its purpose.

Since steam locomotives were introduced in the 1800s,  transportation has evolved but their cultural, economic and social transformation remains a legacy. Today newer more sophisticated land modes of transportation include electric trains and consequently, steam trains are now a novelty, used as tourist attractions, featured in movies and theme parks. 

Revivals are a lot like steam locomotives. They were innovative moves of God, through totally yielded human vessels. These moves catapulted entire communities into radical transformation, many of which had a lasting impact across the spectrum of domains. Revivals of old were powered by ‘steam engines’ that through the fire of God, burned coals which heated up a reservoir of pure water. This water was converted into steam which powered the pistons which moved the train from A to B. Just like steam was released from the locomotive’s chimney, so was the glory of God visible as a testament that God Himself was at work and not the sole ingenuity of men.  

Today, like steam locomotives, revivals for many have become a nostalgic memory. Having forgotten the fire and water of God’s grace and presence that powered them, we stand in the shadow of its legacy. Now we’re impressed by how we have built automated, electric trains that have ‘no cloud of glory’. We have sophisticated religious machinery and incredible ways of doing church and ministry that is very efficient but isn’t built on the manifest presence and glory of God which utterly transformed the world of the early church and many subsequent streams and movements birthed by revivals.

Technological advancements aren’t necessarily a bad thing but progressivism in our methodology that advances efficiency at the expense of encounter or maximises ritual at the expense of revolution is a lethal regression. I believe that Jesus wants us to recapture the fire and water that empowered and birthed His church at Pentecost.

Acts 1:4, 8 AMP describes how the Holy Spirit came, ‘like a rushing violent wind, filling the whole house’ resembling fire which was distributed among them, rested on each one of them filling them with the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, evidenced by speaking in unknown languages. The Lord Jesus promised this power to His disciples who patiently waited at Jerusalem…they had no idea that Joel 2:28 was about to be fulfilled. I believe they heard the engine of the Holy Spirit begin to prophetically ignite because we immediately see tongues of fire on them as they got the Holy Spirit and began to bubble up a new language.

John 7:38 comes to mind saying: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

The power that God promised was His presence which was the fire and the cloud, just like the children of Israel had with them in the wilderness. God promises His grace and glory, He promises us His abiding and infilling Spirit which powers revival so that we will be powerful witnesses of His goodness wherever we are.

I genuinely believe that revival is available today even in the middle of a global viral pandemic, global economic recession, persecution of the Church and heightened political destabilisation and it doesn’t take the whole church to understand this and to make it a reality. When the day of Pentecost came there was just a roomful of the faithful and desperate who were willing to be consumed by fire on the altar of heaven and they birthed an explosion of the mission. What I hope is that the embers of a faithful remnant who are reading this message would begin to beckon heaven. 

Being the remnant comes at a cost, you won’t want the same things as others, your appetite for prayer and worship will begin to expand and explode, your craving to pursue and host the presence of God will consume you. This isn’t for everyone but you will know for sure as these words are leaving my lips as you know your name, that this is for you. There are some who may be happy with the way things are. Some of us can’t wait to get back to our electric trains and restore efficiency. I’m trusting that you will be the one person who is committed to praying in and facilitating what God wants to do. Let’s petition the heavens for the steam locomotives of revival to ignite again, rev your engine again like those who waited at Pentecost for the outpouring. Yes you, why not you? Leave a lasting legacy!  π

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