Church Leaders Page - Preparation For The Days Ahead
Preparing For a Large Influx of New Believers When The Spirit Comes in Power
Initiated by Brian Johnson - http://www.newchristian.org.uk
Draft Document version 3.2 - January 2022
Comments on this draft paper are welcomed. Please contact me by e-mail, using this link:
Many UK prophets have been hearing for some years that a coming powerful move of God will soon sweep multitudes into the Kingdom of God, in a way not seen in the UK for generations. The Book of Amos Chapter 3 verse 7 reminds us:"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets".
Do the churches have any plans for a large future influx of enquirers/new believers, conceivably up to 10 or 20 a month in each congregation? These would be from every type of background, ethnicity, religion and include children. This paper addresses advance preparation and plans appropriate to, and likely problems associated with, an expected powerful, radical and sovereign move of God. Finally, a concluding note summarises the findings.
The State of Our Nation and The Church
Covid has rendered our country's confidence about the future into question, as our neighbours would now surely agree. Some report a new interest in prayer in the general population. We believe the church is called to be a voice to the nation, especially in uncertain and increasingly wicked times. If that is true, has our distinctive message of a life changing eternal gospel been blurred when we have diverted some of our focus to concerns and issues felt by the world in which we live, but in which we do not belong? As the world is passing away, is the gospel making inroads into the lives of unbelievers as it did in generations past? Indeed, do we still have confidence in the gospel's power to change lives? On 17 October the Lord said to me:"I want My People to proclaim the Truth over My land - that only I AM Truth and all other roads end in destruction and loss".
Whatever our perceived failings, surely we have a God who listens to His people and acts? "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land". (2 Chronicles Chapter 7 verse 14). The scriptural method of humbling oneself is revealed in the Old Testament as fasting and, if you are up for it, sackcloth and ashes - plus an attitude of personal repentance before God. 1 Kings 21: 27-29 tells us: "And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, "Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster upon his house." The best resource on fasting I have come across is this 33 minute audio file "The Purpose of Fasting and How To Fast" Relevant here is a quote from A W Tozer: "The inner life must overcome the flesh or the flesh will overcome and destroy the inner life."
Why Radical Training Will Be Needed
The Lord has told me that the coming of His Spirit in the near future will be a MIGHTY TORRENT, because its purpose is also to prepare His people for the hard and difficult times that are coming upon the world. The darkness will increase as will the wickedness of man. He emphasised to me that the old ways are passing away, never to return. Challenging times will soon be upon us all - with a huge harvest of souls to be contended for amidst the growing darkness.Training of new disciples for the dark days ahead will be a totally new type of undertaking, with a fundamentally RADICAL edge. Of vital importance will be training them to listen to the voice of the Spirit. Hearing for oneself the Holy Spirit's guidance will be crucial in the uncertain days ahead, when the way will become narrower and narrower. The Lord Himself has stressed to me the importance of this. He has also told me, in relation to believers: "Many will fall in the times of testing that are coming upon the world".This is therefore a task at which we must not fail! We will surely dishonour Jesus if we do not do SOME preparation for what He himself has planned, forewarned us about through the prophets, and will soon be bringing to pass in our midst.
Compared to the world of business - which takes training extremely seriously - some local churches have in the past signally failed to approach evangelism and discipleship preparation and training in a responsible manner. Where this has occurred, the birth, nurture and growth of the new believer has been serously hampered. Hence the need exists to take preparatory and timely action now, whatever the future holds. Bear in mind however, that in a new radical move of the Spirit we will need to act WITH the Spirit, not simply follow routine procedures that worked in the "normal" past.
Because the Lord has emphasised both the spiritual and worldly significance of this coming move, we MUST believe Him and act. I would not wish to be the one to explain to Him why we did not make any effort to prepare in advance, given that He has provided us with timely warnings of His intentions.
Some will reasonably point out we are starting on an uphill struggle. In contrast with previous generations, 21st century churches have tended to be less evangelistic than those of decades past. Most of us will therefore be starting from a very low baseline.
All recent revivals we know of have been initiated, and undergirded, by prayer. Although God is planning it, and desires it more than we do, a revived church that will impact the world does not fall fully formed from the sky. You can download the free book "The Revival We Need" by Oswald J Smith (pub 1925) from our site to encourage you to pray for what the Lord is planning Download link . Should we not be encouraging our church folk to move on from the personal to the strategic? We need to graduate from polite requests to impassioned pleading day and night for the Lord to move in our midst; that His Spirit through us might saturate our neighbourhoods. Only the Lord can heal our land. The Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1648 reminds us:"Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever". Every move of God is planned by Him to give Him the glory and honour that He alone deserves. The Lord reminded me recently "nothing is accomplished without prayer." He told me over a year ago to cry out to Him day and night for what He will be doing radically and supernaturally in my life soon, although He alone will be bringing it to pass (and I will be 77 years old next birthday). It's essentially about learning from the past, surrendering our all and co-operating with God's perfect plans. Let's get to it!
Gospel PreachingRevival preaching represents God as supremely good and righteous, and totally just in giving commandments to his creatures. Such preaching shows men how sinful and wicked they are, but revival preaching goes further by presenting the promises and gifts of God as sufficient for our own personal transformation. Thus under revival preaching we are not "off the hook" if we want to continue on with our pet lusts and sins. Repentance from sin is what John the Baptist, Jesus and the Apostles preached. Sinners need to trust in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Acts Chapter 17 verse 30 says: "...but now God commands all men everywhere to repent." The renowned "Prince of Preachers" Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) urged:"Avoid a sugared gospel. Seek the gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again".
It's all about Jesus. The Apostle Peter reminds the Corinthian church of the gospel he preached to them: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve." (1 Corinthians Chapter 15 verses 1 to 5) See the UK websiteWhat Is The Gospel? for extensive coverage of the biblical gospel message used in evangelism.
Training and Resources
1)Training To Deal With Enquirers. Aside from the Priest/Pastor, most congregations contain people who enjoy sharing their faith. Others will likely come forward, albeit hesitantly, if an offer of training in faith sharing and discipleship making is made. If we have not done so already, we should be training these people in "how to share the gospel" in evangelism, also "how to assist the birth" of new converts. Even those who enjoy sharing their faith in a social setting are unlikely to have a sound biblical understanding, or the ability without training, to explain these matters clearly to enquirers under conviction. Seekers need to be told why they need Christ and how they may enter via the "new birth" that will hopefully endure in their lives - see the excellent resource "The Normal Christian Birth" by UK bible teacher Rev David Pawson Youtube video series also here Normal Christian Birth and available in book form. The history of past revivals in the UK and elsewhere consistently records that many in the community experience great anguish and conviction by the Spirit, but don't know how to proceed from there to salvation. The local church needs to understand this potential dilemma and guide people in a skilful and competent way to enter into the Kingdom.
2). The Convert and the New Kingdom Life. Do we have people who can confidently explain to the convert, newly arrived in the Kingdom, the basic nature of the Kingdom of God, and how it differs from the kingdom of this world? There is a mass of literature available explaining the new birth and the new Kingdom life. These need to be examined and sifted through for possible use. Now is therefore the time to consider the choice and preparation of various options, based on the likely age range and background of respondents. An excellent book for Christians to study in advance, to remind themselves of the God we are introducing to new Christians, is "Knowing God" by J I Packer
3). Discipleship. Basic, initial discipleship is a skilled and responsible task requiring good understanding of the fundamentals of the Christian walk and the pitfalls facing the new believer along the way. Those selected for training others in discipleship should ideally be relatively young in the faith, but with a good Christian grounding in biblical principles. The wise church leader already knows that those who extol Jesus in their everyday conversation have His Kingdom close to their heart. Long standing and well-meaning Christians whose faith has dwindled to a gentle slumber may think they know what to do, but can find it more difficult to focus on the true essentials of radical discipleship needed for the dark days ahead - and may go off on "pet" tangents.
4). Resources. Bearing in mind many new believers may be either juveniles or people not comfortable with learning from books, what types of resources can we make available? Resource here from Rev David Pawson How To Become A Disciple. The Lutheran Church in the USA have a 53 page downloadable pdf booklet for those happy to read: "A New Believer's Introduction To The Christian Life". If necessary, new resources will need to be created, tailored to specific needs, including other languages spoken by recent local immigrants. Audio visual resources are likely to be utilised the most, since the majority are not book readers these days, especially the young. An excellent resource that is easily followed is The Bible Project. The Church of England has The Pilgrim Course of Discipleship. The Goth Community even has a Christian outreach website.
Problems Likely To Arise
The whole ethos of respectable and orderly church as we have known it for generations will be upended! Many Christians of long standing who are accustomed to calm, traditional church will likely be up in arms about this influx of unruly people upsetting deeply loved church traditions and established ways of doing church. The pleasant cruise ship of comfortable Christianity on an unruffled sea will soon be shipping water!
How will established church members - and leaders too, I guess - react when they see children being used in giving prophetic words and ministering healings?
Resentment will soon arise. "These people can't do this - they haven't been here five minutes, they're not on any rotas and they definitely haven't been baptised / confirmed / become members!"
The status quo will be so challenged that many will want to shut down this move of God. But beware! Remember Gamaliel's advice to the Sanhedrin in Acts Chapter 4 verses 38 and 39:"So in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone. Let them go! For if their purpose or endeavour is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God." A powerful move of the Spirit will, sadly, harden some hearts as such moves of the Spirit generally do.
No small number of long standing attenders will threaten to leave, unless things revert to "our way of doing church", leading to "us and them" factions developing.
Jesus warned us in advance in Luke Chapter 12 verses 51 to 53:"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
Those who have little or no experience of the Spirit moving in church will be offended by the supernatural breaking out unexpectedly, and in some cases, chaotically. Strong emotions will be generated when the Spirit comes in power, but wisdom will be paramount in discerning the difference between the moving of the flesh in pure emotion and the moving of the Spirit in doing His work. This will cause a significant problem for church leaders.
The great temptation will be to take action to restore things to "the way of normal church" in man's regulated manner of doing church and, in so doing, quench the Holy Spirit. Sadly, modern moves of the Spirit have sooner or later been brought under man's control and the Spirit has departed. Jesus is not pleased when man intervenes in His work! Indeed, the Lord himself has personally warned me in advance not to touch His work of the Spirit's fire when it comes, otherwise there will be a penalty to pay by myself and anyone else who interferes with His work! On the other hand, there is a clear scriptural basis for "let everything be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians Chapter 14 verse 40 KJV)). This will be a minefield for leaders and wise consideration to approaches needs to be thought out now while calm prevails. On the one hand the Spirit must be free to move as He wills. On the other hand, congregations could become wild and out of control where the flesh is allowed full rein.
One pastor involved with the "Toronto Blessing" at Toronto Airport in the 1990's conceded subsequently that they never exercised any kind of spiritual discernment. They had ignored 1 John Chapter 4 verse 1: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God." Satan loves to get in and pretend everything is God's work! Wisdom will be needed to allow the Spirit to move freely, discernment of spirits exercised, while keeping man's wilder passions from getting out of hand. The problem of wild behaviour is not new in revival and sound research now into this aspect will pay a great dividend when the Spirit comes and problems of this kind begin to occur.
The Apostle Paul also warned in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 verses 19 to 22: "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil."
Other features we can learn from past revivals is that individuals, including groups of children, often initiate their own prayer meetings in homes, even under hedges in centuries gone by. One church in Scotland recorded 14 separate regular prayer meetings taking place concurrently outside the church building! This emphasises the need for leaders to have a loose hold on people associated with their church and to let God be God in our midst. Dangers in revival usually stem from man's over-organisation, desire to take control and thereby stop the move of God's Spirit. One noted fact of the Welsh Revival of 1904-6 was that there was very little preaching, but lots of spontaneous and passionate praise and worship from congregations.
In the Azuza Street, Los Angeles revival of 1906 the Shekinah glory of God was observed and many healings took place, including some creative miracles. Amazingly, in one case a missing limb grew out. The author Tommy Welchel interviewed in the 1960's many elderly people who were present during the Azusa Street revival as youngsters and teenagers. Not only were these people often present, but they participated in ministry to those who came, so much of their testimony is first hand and not just hearsay. These testimonies are in set out in this Kindle book "True Stories of The Miracles of Azusa Street and Beyond" As at the date of writing this page (3 Jan 2022) the Kindle version costs only 0.49p. The paperback version is 10 pounds and 52 pence.
Tom Lennie is one of the UK's foremost revival historians and has written several books on revivals in Scotland from 1527 to 1940. There is much that can be usefully gleaned from his research and wisdom contained in these accounts. Tom Lennie books. I am currently reading his "Scotland Ablaze", a history of revival in Scotland from 1858 to 1879.
The Nation's confidence in the future has been shaken by Covid. The church has a God-given opportunity - indeed a mandate from Christ Himself - to declare a life-giving gospel to a dying world. In the light of recent prophetic warnings about the coming powerful move of God's spirit, in preparing for the times ahead we must not procrastinate and thus delay evangelistic endeavours. Many of us have rightly found our Government wanting in terms of pandemic preparation and response. We must not be hypocrites and fail to prepare our churches for what God has clearly forewarned us about. In addition to a great harvest, there is coming a radical move of God to prepare His people for hard and difficult times ahead. Don't just take my word about it. Have you researched what others are hearing? More importantly, have you sought God's heart for yourself on these things? This is the time to start praying in earnest, and take seriously the coming days while the opportunity avails. Learn about the good and the bad from past revivals and get suitable manpower trained up and resources organised - now.
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Comments on this paper are welcomed. Please contact me by e-mail, using this link: