What Do We Mean By Revival?

In October last year I had the opportunity to fly up to Newcastle with my family to see some sights and spend the week together. Whilst in Newcastle we were just having a bit of an explore and we came across some street art. Initially I liked the style of the art and thought I’d take some photos. However, it was not until after Christmas when looking back at the pictures that I understood more about the art and its importance to my life and to others.

This street art (image above) is of Gil Scott Heron who was an American Jazz musician and poet and primarily known for his spoken word in the 70’s and 80’s. On the image there is a quote: “the first revolution is when you change your mind”. When I looked into the image more, I found there was more to the quote:

“The first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things and see there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown. 

This quote is brilliant and really opens your eyes to think what if things could be different. We tend to take for granted our upbringings, surroundings and have expectations that others will understand, but let’s be honest until you build a trusting relationship you can have very little understanding of another person’s life, culture and values.

The meaning of the word revival is – an improvement in the condition, strength, or fortunes of someone or something:

Therefore, if revival means improvement, how are we improving young people’s lives in our communities and schools. What does revival mean in the context of generation Z and Alpha? Do they want to see a better world around them? Or is revival everyone in Church regularly on a Sunday?

What if revival means we have much to learn too and if the world is to be revived, we need to learn from other walks of life, religions, and cultures to get to a place of revival. In Corinthians 2 it talks about bringing the new, the change, but to do this we have to let go of the old. What is the old we’re holding on to and are we willing to let go? If I’m really honest I have always struggled with the expectation of the word revival within Christian settings, the reason being working as a youth worker for 20 years a lot of young people I have worked with do not understand the language of the Church and struggle with its culture and expectations. Therefore, how can we expect everyone to understand our culture as Christians and the ways we see life through a Christian lens if we do not understand other cultures.

This poses some questions: to really meet in the place of revival, do we need to be more aware of our actual neighbours and our communities? Do we need to be willing to listen well to the conversations around us as these could be lifelines of transformation? What if revival is restoration to creation and the world is healed through everyone appreciating difference and we work towards collaboration and togetherness?

I think it is important, if we want a revival open to all, where God can reach everyone, that we develop our understanding of what revival means and looks like, to see the purpose of revival to improve people’s whole lives – physical, emotional as well as spiritual. Therefore, at the heart of revival is relationships and authentic relationships are built on trust, understanding and love. Relationships help us understand each other better and see things from another way as we all learn from each other.

In conclusion if we are to see revival, we have to start building relationships with the people who are not in Church and and spend time with people who see the world differently to ourselves. However, that is ok right? As we are ready to learn new things to see a revival, we need to see it differently.