Revival and Evangelism

Yesterday I braced myself and attacked my overflowing bookshelves. Some books went on a stack for my garage sale this weekend, others I set aside for the church library, and still others I plunked into the trash because too much of the book was already gone and who can stand to read a book minus the ending?

While I breezed through the books, a bookmarker fell out. Without even glancing at it, I put it on the desk beside my pile of culled books and promptly forgot about it.

This morning, Will brought the bookmarker to me. “Where did this come from?” he asked.

“I have no idea,” I said. “It just fell out of a book.”

That innocent bookmarker has had my head spinning all day. Want to know what it said?

“Revival and evangelism, though different in nature, issue from the same source and flow together. A church which does not go out into the world to press the claims of the Kingdom would not know revival if it came.”

-Robert E.Coleman, Dry Bones Can Live Again: Revival in the Local Church

Two things captured my attention. First of all, the relationship between revival and evangelism. I don’t know exactly why, but I always thought that revival in the church would come first, then evangelism would follow as people got excited about sharing their new life in God. Essentially a mother-child relationship; one gives birth to the other.

However, this quote implies a twin relationship–the two exist together and one does not come before the other. Both flow from the same source.

If indeed, revival and evangelism are like a mother and child (sorry, I know the analogy isn’t perfect), then the absence of the child (evangelism) makes us go after the mother (revival). Then the mother (revival) gives birth to the child (evangelism).

But if revival and evangelism are inseparable twins, they cannot be individually sought. We have to go to their source, out of which they are both born.

If that is true, revival and evangelism will only happen as we connect with the source–the heart of God. There’s no point trying to make either one happen otherwise.

The other aspect of the quote that stunned me was the statement that “A church which does not go out into the world to press the claims of the Kingdom would not know revival if it came.”

I wish I could find the author and personally ask him what he meant by that. I find that statement deeply disturbing.

Can you see how damaging a simple bookmark can be? I’m going to be thinking about this for a while…

What do you think? Do you think the mother/child relationship makes more sense, or the twin relationship? Do you think our churches are able to recognize revival?

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