Race, Revival, Repentance and Radical

Dear Church,

Mark Noll, in his book, “God and Race in American Politics” cites polling that confirms what we all know – that white evangelicals and black Protestants show the greatest polarization among any constituencies among the two political parties. Noll then points out, “In light of these dramatic partisan differences keyed to race and religion, it is pertinent to remember one more fact documented by a wealth of poling – that the two identifiable groups within the American populace standing closest to each other on questions of religious belief and moral practice are white evangelicals and black Protestants.”

What does this show to the world? It shows that we are not known for our love for one another (John 13). More importantly, however, is how this must grieve the Holy Spirit.

One Church One City (www.onechurchonecity.org) has sought to bring unity in the body of Christ starting with these two groups – united in belief and practice – but opposing each other on most social and political actions. While we differ in many areas – we have found that on the most important and fundamental matters of life and faith – the issue of race falls away, and we are drawn toward relationship with, and service to, one another. We continue to pray, and are eager to see where the Lord takes us.

As an answer to prayer for revival and unity, we recently heard of a national call for spiritual awakening – an initiative of Life Action Ministry (headquartered southwest of here in Buchanan, Michigan) – by the name of One Cry (www.onecry.com). We thank God for the heart of Randy Hekman and others associated with One Cry. Already, the resources and affiliations of One Cry are expanding our horizons. The composite of these works show that our moral chaos has reached levels like those that led to the great awakenings in our nation’s past. Now, as then, prophetic voices are crying up to God for a revival in the church and an awakening among the lukewarm and unbelieving.

As believers reach a point of total disgust as to the moral and social collapse about us – we are soon confronted with our sin and the need to repent. This will bring us to a new hunger for God’s word and prayer – all for the purpose of bringing glory to God – and to His call – which is unity. The One Cry call is likewise – TURN – PRAY – UNITE.

Personally, I am convicted in yet another area that I have been suppressing, but has been stirred up in me recently when I picked up a book by David Platt, “Radical – Taking back your Faith from the American Dream.” I set it aside a few years ago after reading a couple chapters – not ready to embrace it’s message. Now as I read it, I keep thinking that this will return us to the faith and practice – and power – of the church as described in Acts. Am I now ready to take up its message?

In an effort to simplify a very complex society and sickness we face today – these four R’s sort of popped up: Revival, Race, Repentance and Radical.

And so, as we anticipate the National Day of Prayer this Thursday, there is much to cry up to God for. Among these may include: Revival fueled by Repentance to bring us to Radical life in Christ – and uniting the church across race and other “tribal distinctions.”

Your brother,

Mark

 

One Church, One City, One Cry

Dear Church,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
This week, we became acquainted with the One Cry movement. This is a national initiative of Life Action Ministries that is responding to God’s call for awakening throughout the Church. It’s purpose is much the same as One Church One City – but with a vision for our nation – the many cities and regions that make up our country.
The Church in Reno, Nevada has embraced the One Cry. Last year about 700 people from nearly 300 churches gathered together to unite – as a collective voice seeking revival. It is exciting to the Church in cities like Reno, and Birmingham, Alabama and others uniting across denomination, practice, race and class – all to God’s Glory.
I found the following bullet points from Pastor Brent Brook (Reno Christian Fellowship) particularly insightful in addressing many of the same things that we are in Grand Rapids. I hope these help you as well. Please feel free to pass these on to your intercessors if you like. Also note the “tribe” reference that Mark Driscoll used in “Resurgence” – just another example of God moving to bring unity to His Bride:

·         Remember that each region has only one true church where Christ is Lord. (See Revelation 2 and 3). He has prayed that we be one to show the world that Jesus was sent by the Father (John 17).

·         Watch for the moves of the Spirit that are always going before. Keep your eyes, ears, heart, spirit open to what God is already doing around you.

·         God has always been going before you—look for the signs of convergence and God’s preparation

o   In your city

o   In your life

·         Find the intercessors and stay close to them

·         Start with relationships, not events

·         Remember people distrust and build theories about those they don’t know. These dissolve where there is relationship

·         Identify the various pastoral tribes in your community (in our case we have separate tribes for Evangelicals, Pentecostals, African-Americans, Hispanics)

·         Understand that each tribe has its own culture and tribal chieftains. Learn the cultures and know the chieftains.

·         Appreciate the tribal cultures. Remember Christ loves the whole Church despite their flaws, especially the flaws within your tribe.

·         Learn to be multicultural, working in more than one tribe. As long as we stay separate the Devil wins. When we are One the church will rally, the world will take notice, and the Devil will flee.

·         Find others who share your passion. Build a coalition team behind the scenes.  Don’t make the identity of this team public. If you do, then others will ask who put you in charge? Just work quietly together behind the scenes.  You’ll have allies working with you in each of the tribes.

·         Theologically move to the highest common denominators (Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the gospel, authority of Scripture, the Cross, prayer, revival)

·         Don’t treat cultural differences as theological differences

·         Where there has been past friction between tribes, ask “why?”  Learn from the past

·         Where there have been past conflicts practice deliberate “gracism”. In other words, affirmative action in reconciliation will be needed. Remain persistent even when you are initially ignored.  They want to know if you are just like everybody else who wanted to symbolically embrace diversity, but were unwilling to accept them and their culture as full partners.

·         Don’t try to simply be “color blind”.  It won’t work. The goal is not homogeneity (the old melting pot idea where they are supposed to become like us). The goal is a total embrace of all the flavors of Christ’s body (a stew pot, not a melting pot).

·         Don’t ignore the differences. Bring them out in the open. Talk about them. Recognize them and recognize the power of the Spirit to embrace every nation, tribe, and tongue.  It will happen in heaven. It can start now.

·         Don’t accept “we tried it before, it didn’t work.”  Ask “does that mean we should stop?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This short vimeo clip is helpful as well: http://vimeo.com/81029292.

 

One Cry is based in nearby Buchanan, Michigan. The National Director, Randy Hekman, is actually located in Grand Rapids. Please pray that God will raise up more intercessors and leaders to follow the Spirit in bring unity and revival in the Church.

 

Your brother,

 

Mark