ARE MEGA CHURCHES NOW A DISTRACTION TO REVIVAL?

Do you believe current church trends  will rescue our nation?  My guess is you don’t.  If you don’t, you are not alone.  A growing number of believers—many of whom will not say it out loud—question the value of attraction churches.

One day, I sat with some “hot names” in church growth in southern California.  We had talked a lot about styles of worship, preaching and marketing.  Being older than most of them, I felt a little bold.  I asked them: “Can any of you give me the name of a mega church in Los Angeles in 1906? “

Not one of them could come up with a name.  Then I said, “but you all remember the Azusa Street Revival, right?  Why is that?”  Because history remembers revivals and forgets mega churches.”  The reason is simple; revivals make history by reforming society.

Those who praise the glories of mega churches never mention how they have no impact on cultural sin.  In this golden age of mega churches, society is experiencing its greatest moral landslide.   On their watch, the number of people who claim to be atheists has doubled.  More anti-God legislation has been enacted than any other time in our history.

But do churches bear any responsibility for the moral landslide of a nation?  Charles G. Finney sure thought so!   He said, “If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are about to fall away, the pulpit is responsible.”

Some will say it is not fair to ask mega churches to reverse national destruction.   But you also can’t have it both ways.  You can’t go around extolling the wonders of these mammoth ministry centers and then say they can’t fix the nation.  If they can’t fix the only thing that needs fixing, what is the point?

But people point out, “They produce musicals as good as Broadway” Or, “They give the average person hope” These achievements ring hollow.  In a simpler time, they would be impressive.  Not today.

This is no time for entertainment.  This is no time for mild cures. Society’s condition has forced rule changes.  A demon possessed culture needs a church with power to cast out devils.  A culture reeling with unimaginable addictions needs a church were the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the fire of God is plainly presented.

Are these churches a distraction to revival?  Let me offer this parable about distraction.  A college football team is losing their homecoming game. Badly.  Halftime is a welcome break.  The people are relieved when the marching band takes the field.

The band leader sees how much the people are enjoying the distraction.  He decides “we don’t need a second half; it is a good thing to just keep the show going.”

The lyrics of American Pie put it this way, “Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune We all got up to dance Oh, but we never got the chance ‘Cause the players tried to take the field, the marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed The day the music died?”

You, dear leader of a mega church, must ask yourself, is my church the band that refuses to yield.  Is my mega ministry a distracting substitute for revival?  Am I keeping the church from starting the second half?

The Bible asks painful questions about times.  Elisha’s servant Gehazi secretly took money and clothes from General Naaman after Naaman was healed of leprosy.  Elisha asked Gehazi, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?”-2 Kings 5:26,26

In a time of mass murder, mass suicide, of hurricanes floods, and fire, is it time for pastors to parade wealth, and grant mild cures?

Haggai asked another painful question: “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” -Haggai 1:4  The modern application for this is simple:  Pastor, are you building a personal empire, or the Kingdom of God?  Will you allow a nation to go down in flames while you live in a bubble of false victory? 

If we can truly confess that babble has replaced the Bible—that self-enhancement has replaced self-denial –that marketing has replaced miracles—and unconditionally surrender to the Holy Spirit, God will turn our churches into fire-breathing, nation-changing powerhouses.

IS GOD DOING A SECRET WORK IN YOU?

Mario Murillo says, “Many Christians are fed up with the world system—especially the way it operates in the church.  They leave church thinking, ‘this is not it, there’s something bad wrong here.’  They can’t stomach the glitzy entertainment centers anymore…”

IS GOD DOING A SECRET WORK IN YOU?

by Mario Murillo

Many Christians are fed up with the world system—especially the way it operates in the church.  They leave church thinking, “this is not it, there’s something bad wrong here.”  They can’t stomach the glitzy entertainment centers anymore.

They are angry at ego-centric pastors with grandiose, expense and carnal visions.  They accuse them of being distracted—even derailed from their first love.   Disciples are abandoning attraction churches—something revolutionary is happening inside them.  God has started a secret work in them.

Many honest Pastors are also in divine turmoil.  The enemy condemned them for having a smaller church.   After years of blood sweat and tears their churches were battered, broken and diminished because they can’t compete with mega-mania.

And why can’t they compete? It’s because they keep their integrity!   When they see large crowds and big money pour effortlessly into churches that either hide or pervert the Gospel…it’s easy to feel like a fool for staying true.  The Bible says, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.” Psalm 73:13,14.

However, our friend in Psalm 73 came to a great conclusion. After being bull-dozed by the success of the wicked he took action “16 When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me—17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.”  Many pastor’s  hearts are crying out for more—for a miracle they can’t even describe.

When he entered the sanctuary exhausted and discouraged, the greatness of God began to overtake him.  He saw that there is no version of this battle where Satan wins.  This is a part of the secret work God is doing in pastors!

A growing number of hungry hearts agree—with all its money and crowds—the compromised church did nothing to rebuke America’s sin.  The seeker model was a house of cards against the onslaught on the unborn and marriage.  While men slept, we had millions of abortions and marriage was destroyed.  The last 10 years we have lost battle after battle in government, education and the media.  We are a hopelessly divided nation—to a large extent the pulpit is to blame.

Charles Finney said, “If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.”

Deep, deep in my soul where the real knowing happens—I know God is doing something new.  Every atom of my being tells me that God is doing a secret work in His people.  God is finished with hirelings.  He is drawing a remnant out of corruption and into a special, supernatural nearness to Him.  They will empty themselves of everything, every ambition will be burned out but one…to love and please Christ.

Is God doing a secret work in you?  Has God closed you in and stripped you of all enjoyment of lesser things?  Are you in divine frustration because you are going to be a part of something only God can do?

What if millions of Americans get so miserable that they cry out to God in total desperation?  What if their cry is too deep and their hunger is too great to ever be happy in a lukewarm church?  This is why the Holy Spirit is recruiting a new breed…a breed that can be trusted in an awakening.

God is doing a secret work!  He is pulling a remnant to Himself.  He is taking the prophetic core and communing with them—training them—empowering them—preparing them for one last mighty blast of power.  The Holy Spirit sees that our nation hangs by a thread.  The death-rattle is in America’s throat.   Before God allows destruction—He is going to do one last massive miracle.  What will that look like?

-People no one’s ever heard of will come to the forefront.  They will arrive with awesome power and piercing messages.  Not all of them will be regular ministers.  In fact, the majority will not leave their secular careers as God is using them.  Some will be children!

-Strange locations will house massive outpourings.  Churches that have been small for years will become ground zero of God’s presence.   People will flock in from everywhere to these centers of fire and glory.  Stunning signs and wonders will rock entire communities.  These churches will be forced to stay open 24 hours a day.

God is doing a secret work in you.  He is making you miserable to make you into a miracle.  

A.C. Valdez was a child at Azusa Street who later became an evangelist.  God showed him the future and here is what he said:  “All the electrifying adjectives in the dictionary shaken together, pressed down and running over will not begin to describe the soon-to-come, greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit of all times-what the Bible calls “the latter rain.”  You are going to see lay members carry out an amazing ministry through gifts of the Holy Spirit.  There will be wholesale cures of “incurable” conditions, healings of the blind, deaf, dumb, and handicapped, and creative miracles that will strain the imagination.  For those born without eyes ears, fingers arms or legs-or those who have lost them through disease or accidents- God will make new ones. Many astonishing miracle swill happen to bring on an international Christian breakthrough.”  I believe A.C. Valdez is not talking about a time far off in the future.. he is talking about now because, my friend it is now or never.

Yes, you’re right. Revival is now impossible

 

Yes, revival is now impossible.  Everything thing the pessimistic Christians say is true. They are right about our national morals, division and the deadness of the church  but they are forgetting one thing about revival…

Revival struck London through John Wesley when it was impossible.   One out every seven houses in London was a house of prostitution.  More people were attending seances than church.  Nearly 100,000 children lived like animals.  The London times had not mentioned Christmas for decades…not even once.

The Methodist revival under Wesley turned England into the world’s missionary leader.

Revival struck Kentucky when it was unthinkable.  This was the most lawless state in the union.  There was no police.  Every criminal on the run headed for Kentucky.  Murder, rape, and alcoholism were pandemic.  Revival flipped Kentucky so violently that it became the most zealously Christian state in America.

The early twentieth century was a far more skeptical era than today.  The blush of Darwinism and Marxism was so feverish that it was a foregone conclusion that Christianity would go away altogether. Scientists declared the age of reason and solemnly assured us that religion would be gone by the 1920s.

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Imagine in that atmosphere, if you were to have said in 1906, “a one eyed black man is going to rent a dingy horse livery on Azusa Street in downtown Los Angeles and start a movement that will engulf nearly 600 million people worldwide.”  

The point is that revivals are impossible…and when it looks totally impossible they happen.

You should also know what the church was preaching in those darkest moments before awakenings began.  Pulpits were filled with pessimists who instead of rebuking the despair joined in the chorus.  They declared the day of revival to be over!  Even that did not stop God.

How is it that revival can strike without warning in the most unpromising times and grow in the hardest soil?  The answer is that when darkness is intense we tend look at the wrong indicators.  It’s not that there are no warnings of revival it is simply that we do not know them when we see them because fear is so loud.

Look at today.  Do you see any signs of revival?  Most would say absolutely not.  They would say all of the same things that people have said before every outpouring of God.   The times are too evil.

That is the argument today.  We legalized gay marriage, drugs and we toy with Islam.  Our leaders are loons that are finding the best ways to drive us into extinction.  Churches are closing and 1,000 ministers are leaving the ministry every month.  You know the rest because you have heard a hundred times.

Atheists are boasting that the whole world in general is becoming secular and anti-supernatural.  The facts are just the opposite.  It is a very religious world, far more religious than it was 50 years ago.

Consider these statistics from sociologist Rodney Stark:

— 81 percent claim to belong to an organized religious faith, and most of the rest report engaging in religious activities such as prayer or making offerings to the gods in various “folk religion” temples.

— 74 percent say religion is an important part of their daily lives.

— 50 percent report they have attended a place of worship or religious service in the past seven days.

-In very few nations do as many as five percent claim to be atheists, and only in China, Vietnam, and South Korea do they exceed 20 percent.

-Furthermore, in every nook and cranny left by organized faiths, all manner of unconventional spiritual and mystical practices are booming. There are more occult healers than medical doctors in Russia, 38 percent of the French believe in astrology, 35 percent of the Swiss agree that “some fortune tellers really can foresee the future,” and nearly everyone in Japan is careful to have their new car blessed by a Shinto priest.

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To be sure, little of this is Christian but it is undeniable that the waters of supernatural hunger are being stirred worldwide.

Another sign is the evil of people itself.   For example, Saul of Tarsus was at the peak of his terrorism when he was violently converted. What no one but God knew was the growing desperation inside of this soon to be Paul the Apostle.   Societies are often at their worst right before revival.

What we do not want to do is miss revival when it hits!

Dark times can absorb our faith in the power of God.  Many believers find themselves in a condition that is truly worse than they ever imagined.  Pangs of fear grip men of God who were once lions in the pulpit.  We invent doctrines that fit our disappointment.  We build ministries based on our lowered expectations.

You need a healthy respect for the power of dark times to rob us of faith.  It has happened to the best of us.

500 people saw Jesus Christ ascend into the clouds.  Think about that.  In the face of such absolute proof that Jesus was the Son of God, how could they ever doubt?

As He ascended he told them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit.  Surely they would wait…right?  Astonishingly, only 120 were still waiting in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost.  How is it possible in the face of so great an assurance that they would falter and abandon their posts?

Their world was filled with sudden terror from a wicked king, oppression from religious leaders, and tyranny from the Roman occupiers.  Their daily grind absorbed their zeal for the promises of God.

Do not be like the 380 people who missed one of the greatest moments in history.  Here are two things that you need to confess and say to your spirit so that you will not leave the upper room.

  1. Either it was always true or it was never true. Times do not alter truth. A lack of money does not change God’s word about prosperity.  Sickness does not nullify the fact of God’s healing power.  The evil of men does not overrule the supremacy of Christ.   If God promised you something, these dark times cannot stop their fulfillment.
  2. This will be like one of them. 1 Samuel 17: 4 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.”

youth revivalIt is easy to say that evil is more intense and sophisticated than ever before.  Neither Saul, nor Israel had ever faced anything like Goliath before.  David said that it did not matter; this new threat would have the same outcome as all of the old threats.

Jesus is telling us to wait for the power that is about to break out no matter what.   Does revival look totally impossible to you?  Don’t worry, they all look that way until they happen.