In going through a presentation I heard recently on the marks of revival, and having worked with Natural Church Development for some twenty years now, it is my conviction that any church that scores highly on the eight Quality Characteristics will be in a state of revival.
I have heard many people speak about revival (without actually defining it).
I have experienced congregations singing about it (without defining it).
What Christian Schwarz was investigating, in the largest research project on the church (1000 churches, 6 continents, 34 countries, 4.5 million bits of data), was an answer to the question: ‘What should every church and each Christian be doing in order to fulfil the Great Commission?’ Schwarz ‘uncovered’ eight Quality Characteristics that are always present in every church no matter what culture they are or what their denominational ‘persuasion’ or what person or programme they may be following.
These eight characteristics can be seen in the presentation where the speaker’s topic was: ‘The Marks of Revival.’
- Empowering Leadership
The speaker mentioned one revival that ceased because some high-ranking church leaders would not empower others in the church to continue their work. I think there might be a number of revivals that have ceased because those with ecclesiastical power refused to share it with anyone else; they dis-empowered those through whom God was working.
2. Gift-based Ministry
This can be easily observed in Acts 6 where the apostles delegated the work of sharing resources, while they continued with prayer and the word. God’s work flourishes when people work in the areas God has gifted them.
3. Passionate Spirituality
Revival is always accompanied by prayer and an emphasis on the Scriptures. All spiritual disciplines are carried out with passion. As the speaker said, revival creates a fresh hunger for the word of God; a new desire for prayer; a new dependency on the Holy Spirit.
4. Effective Structures
George Whitefield lamented that he had not structured his converts as Wesley had. The Methodist church exists today because of the methodical way Wesley went about his work; but where is the work of Whitefield to be seen?
5. Inspiring Worship Service
Again, the speaker said ‘Revival brings a longing for worship.’ During revival times the people do not have to be pressed to attend worship; they are very clear on why they are attending and the whole experience of ‘church’ is totally positive.
6. Holistic Small Groups
John Wesley’s way of structuring his ‘converts’ into a small group system demonstrates the necessity and the value of meeting in this way. As someone once said, ‘Small groups are the cutting edge of the church.’.
7. Need-oriented Evangelism
As the speaker declared, ‘Revival brings an extraordinary harvest;’ and another point: ‘Revival brings a new thrust into mission.’ There is no doubt that during times of revival the church experiences exceptional growth with even the worst citizens being converted.
8. Loving Relationships
What more should be said but that church members must love one another?
These quality characteristics are like the vital organs of a human being; they each need to be healthy. If any one of them is not, it will prevent the body from functioning as it should, and that one will require attention to make it healthy again.
The health of a disciple-making church could be compared to the fitness of an All Black rugby team; most of us physically are not that fit. The same disciplines and routines that make All Blacks fit, can easily be transposed across to the health or quality of the individuals that comprise any community of faith.