Sunday morning and night I shared important facts from the history of American Christianity in my messages. I mentioned the first Great Awakening and pointed out that it played an important role in turning the colonies into a nation. The common spiritual experiences that swept up and down the colonies caused this nation to have a consciousness of God that was not at all prevalent prior to this visitation of the Spirit. There was a Second Great awakening that began after the Revolutionary War and the adoption of the Constitution. This awakening had many components. It involved the universities such as Yale where Timothy Dwight was named president just before the turn of the century in 1800. Dwight was a devout, bible believing Christian and took on a new skepticism which had invaded America via the philosophers of the French Revolution. A revival broke out on the campus of Yale and had its impact among many of the leading thinkers of the day. There was also a western component in which the untamed lands to the west of the Allegheny Mountains experienced camp meetings that lasted for days and sometimes weeks. Thousands heard and responded to the message of the gospel and the development of strong churches began to spread across the land.
We need a third awakening. We have had other revivals and movements that have touched us, but none that changed the course of the nation or resulted in new institutions or transformed institutions. It is my firmly held belief that only a true awakening like our nation has already seen can reverse a decline in our culture. It will not come unless we truly turn to God with our whole heart.
Allow me to boldly put in print my thoughts on what is currently happening in American Christianity. I believe we are now in an era of consumer driven church life. Churches are competing with goods and services against other churches. Those inclined to attend and participate migrate around sampling the various churches largely without respect to doctrinal teaching. A recent study revealed that the megachurches are not really reaching the unreached. It was found that they largely reach people with a church background and only periodically reach those not previously involved. The study further pointed out that churches with extravagant and appealing programs tend to cannibalize smaller churches. In some situations churches have virtually disappeared due to the outward migration of members to megachurches. In my opinion Christian leaders need to take a fresh look at the mission and purpose of the church. Instead of seeking to market the Christian faith, we need to trust the Lord to move by His Spirit. Real awakenings begin with prayer. They reach into the surrounding pagan culture. They influence the established powers that be. They alter the course of history. When will we cry out to God for a fresh moving of His Spirit?