A stunning rebuke to watered down Christianity came from an unlikely place: San Francisco.
It was my honor to partner with Chris Burns and the amazing army that formed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park. THE SOUND was an outreach of many powerful worship artists, dynamic speakers, and a committed core linked hearts to bless the city. But one thing that happened has wide implications to all believers. A scientific experiment will help you appreciate what I mean.
Biologists put a thick pane of glass in the middle of a large rectangular aquarium. After filling it with water, they stocked it with small fish on one side of the glass barrier and their natural predator on the other.
Over and over, the larger fish slammed into the invisible barrier trying to feed on the smaller fish. This went on for days until they gave up. Then, the scientists removed the glass divider and saw something remarkable: The predators behaved as if the barrier was still there—they didn’t try to eat the small fish. They didn’t even try to go to the other side of the tank.
When we think of San Francisco—and rightly so—we think of smug, anti-God intellectual, lovers of pleasure. We also think of youth—hard wired, by activist educators, to reject Christ. The church is conditioned not to fish here. There’s your glass pane.
In outreach after outreach, Mario Murillo Ministries has never acknowledged a glass barrier in San Francisco. It was true again on July 6th and 7th when we joined forces with Chris Burns to win souls in the city.
Holy Ghost boldness overtook me. I preached an unvarnished soul-winning message. I refused to employ verbal gymnastics to appeal to a sophisticated culture.
Why—if this place is so hard—did so many respond, so immediately, to a direct gospel appeal? Nothing was sugar-coated. It was no credit to oratory. It was a simple case of hungry and hurting souls reaching out to Jesus—because He was offered to them.
The pictures tell you how many came forward. Even more astounding was the report Chris gave me about the invasion the next day: “We saw hundreds saved as we took over Golden Gate Park.”
Time and time again, I’ve warned the American church…there is a great harvest in our nation, even in San Francisco. And…if there is a harvest in San Francisco, how much more in the rest of America?
Fish treading water refusing to eat is ridiculous; preachers refusing to harvest is beyond ridiculous—it is an embarrassment to our cause. Watered-down, apologetic, murky preaching is a grandiose, inexcusable, waste of time.
Here is the giant question: why are so many Americans so hungry for Christ now? The answer is simple: our culture made them miserable—a culture created by an elite core of power brokers. It might be Hollywood; it might be our—hell-bent on telling Americans what to think—media. They dictate what we should believe, what is good for us, what is right behavior and finally, what would make us happy. None of it works.
Social prophets bludgeon us with progressive platitudes and put a muzzle on any opposing voice. Group think is the only way Americans can believe patently stupid contradictions: free speech is a threat to freedom—open marriage deepens commitment—suicide is victory—violence is love.
They can control almost everything, but one thing they cannot control: the damage on the soul—the vacuum that hi-tech selfishness creates—the misery of trying to endure on medicated self-pity.
The American church is bitterly failing a generation because we are still hoodwinked by an old model. We still see the reluctant seeker—the spiritual looky-look. We don’t see the desperate hearts that grope in darkest America.
We are failing a generation because we are not stronger than our excuses. The empty calories served up on Sunday morning are a tribute to denial. They deny the power of the Gospel, and they deny the hunger of the people. Half-cures are now irrelevant.
The compromised church isn’t the only problem. Some churches are just strange. There are pastors who pull their hair out trying to understand why new visitors don’t come to church. They never consider that their shenanigans are weird to outsiders and their members are too embarrassed to invite friends.
When their bizarre and self-serving antics make visitors walk out, they smugly assume they are under conviction. No…they just think we’re crazy.
The crushing heartbreak is that both these extremes—with their useless methods—continue to be celebrated. Meanwhile, a nation dies, and lost souls go into eternity.
Every day, Satan sells a new drug that kills kids faster. Every hour, a new perversion twists the minds of our children.
Mario Murillo Ministries walks the tightrope of the radical middle. The tepid church rejects us because we preach fire and operate under Holy Spirit unction. The hyper-emotional church rejects us because we use rigid discipline to keep it real for lost souls.
Right now, I should be rejoicing over the harvest in San Francisco, instead, it ignites fire in my bones. Millions want the power the Gospel offers. Leftists lie about it, and Christians misrepresent it. Nevertheless, I am filled with hope.
There is a story of 4 brave lepers that mirrors the experiment about the fish: God had scared the enemy away but the city under siege didn’t realize it. 2 Kings 7: 7 “Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact—their tents, their horses, and their donkeys—and they fled for their lives. And when these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it. 9 Then they said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent.’”
All the resources to save a starving city sat unused. The army they feared was gone. They simply didn’t bother to check the enemy’s camp. The same is true now. God keeps everything ready that we need to reach America. If only we would see that and act on this great promise.
Mario Murillo Ministries is not going to sit and wait for squeamish theologians to figure out how hungry Americans are for Jesus; and how much provision stands ready for those who will rightly divide the Word of God. The harvest in San Francisco is only the beginning of surprises that God has in store. Come with us on this great adventure.