As you hear unprecedented revival reports from other churches, it is natural to wonder why God is moving in such a spectacular way elsewhere but not to the same degree in your church. It is natural to wonder, “What is wrong with our church?” “Haven’t we prayed and asked God for revival?” “Are we for some reason being bypassed in what God is doing today?” More dangerous is the response, “We have been experiencing God’s presence and don’t want or need anything more.” You are called to be faithful where you are, keeping your eyes on Jesus, not on the public attention others are experiencing. Keep the following advice in mind and heart as you seek in unity with your congregation to be the church God wants you to be.
1. God may be accomplishing the spiritual growth He desires for your church at this time. He loves every individual for whom He sent His Son to die and the Father desires that every member of your congregation draw closer to His Son.
2. Out of envy or feelings of less worth, don’t criticize churches experiencing visible revival activity. Be patient and faithful to your call. God is able to move in His way, at His time, and where He chooses. Be open and preparing for His supernatural move.
3. Be faithful in preaching the Word and encouraging membership to expect God’s presence and power in a greater way. Every believer should desire and seek a closer walk with our Lord.
4. Don’t allow those who have visited other scenes of God’s seemingly spectacular move to persuade you or your people to merely copy the activity observed elsewhere. Seek God for His special move according to the needs of your church. A carbon-copy “revival” is likely to be man-made.
5. Use caution in publicizing supernatural healings or other miracles that cannot be authenticated. Pentecostals know for certain that God can and does heal. We know that faith is encouraged and strengthened by testimonies of supernatural healing. But when a claim of healing is made and critics prove later that no significant and lasting change followed, the cause of Christ suffers. Charges of fraud, lying, and deliberately misleading in order to enhance one’s ministry only hurt the Christian witness. If a person sincerely testifies of personal healing and then suffers a setback, the premature testimony cannot be charged to the pastor or evangelist, which would reflect negatively on the testimony of the church in the community.
6. Do not invite speakers to fill your pulpit out of a desire just to see “manifestations.” There has been enough manipulation that casts doubt on the genuine work of the Spirit. Choose your pulpit guests wisely. Going outside the list of recognized Assemblies of God credentials holders can bring undesired teachings and example.
7. Do not point accusing fingers at those who may not heed these admonitions.
8. When you do observe and confirm the presence of wrong doctrine and/or practice, you have a responsibility to speak out in the right way. Concern should first be expressed to those involved in the error. If the concern is rejected or not answered, district leadership should be made aware of the situation. “In a multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 24:6, NKJV).
Some of the teachings and human responses described in this paper as concerns of the Church will in a few years, if the Lord delays His return, be forgotten or remembered only as passing fads. Some will reappear under new names. And there will likely be new teachings like these that begin with a kernel of truth but then move to extra-biblical excess. Discernment is needed, not so much on the labels and names, as on the actual teachings and human responses. The Lord is faithful to guide and protect His people as they seek only to build His kingdom and to give all the glory to Him, refusing to take any for themselves.
Reports of souls saved and lives changed should never justify wrong theology and practices. Yet Paul said about the false prophets who were causing him and his ministry frustration, “Christ is proclaimed in every way whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice” (Philippians 1:15-18). But Paul obviously wanted Christ to be proclaimed from right motives and with biblical integrity. So do we.