I have followed the trends of revival for the last 300 years and I am convinced that next major revival that will break out in America will be among the poor and the minorities in the inner city of America. Every century or so, there is a major outpouring among the down and out. We have not seen one happen since the late 1960’s.
We have had some amazing outpourings in the last generation. I was born again in the Brownsville Revival, touched in the Toronto Blessing and many friendships were made in the Smithton Outpouring. I was there for the Lakeland Revival and the awakening that happened at IHOP University. All of these are amazing and I am thankful for them. However, they did not shape the nation as we know it.
The last major move of God that actually had cultural changes to the nation was the Jesus People movement that started in some of the most ran down areas of San Francisco. (Most of the major outbreaks would happen in Los Angeles though). It was mainly among the poor, the hippies, the drug addicts and people were struggling to find their way in corporate America.
We have not seen that type of an awakening since. However, I believe one is on the brink!
Case for the inner city revival
If you look at the revivals of Pentecostalism since Topeka, you will see much of the early people touched were mainly poor people who trusted God for everything. This is the story of Azusa Street, the revival at Angelus Temple, and even the healing revival in the 1950’s. There is no getting around that many of the great outpouring in the history books at our bible college were among the poor in a very rough time of American history.
The days of having meeting in the closed warehouses like they did at Azusa Street Mission are over and today, we have multi-million dollar facilities and preachers have private airplanes instead of walking from town to town broke. In some ways, it reminds me of a story when the Pope told St. Thomas Aquino that “We can’t say that we don’t have silver or gold anymore.” The philosopher replied saying, “Nor can we say get up and walk.” Sadly, that would apply to much of the Pentecostal movement as well.
However, there is coming a move of the Holy Spirit that brings us back to our roots of reaching the poor and the broken. God is going to release a outbreak of the harvest in the ghettos of America like we have not seen since our early days in this generation. The days of the latter rains will be upon us again.
The centers of renewals have been mainly in the suburban and rural context. We had not had a true urban revival that created transformation since the days of Azusa Street. That is about to change in the next wave. Many of the early leaders of the movement are serving as drug dealers and pimps right now!
Awakening is offensive!
The reality of the Spirit being poured out like this will cause many people to be offended. It won’t just be the mainline churches, either. There is much offense among us, the Pentecostals because God will be moving in a place that is viewed with stigma. In some ways, people in our churches would rather missing being touched than to be seen in the rough parts of our cities among the drug addicts, the prostitutes, and the hustlers.
I expect many pastors to line up to come against any move of God in the urban core of America. The reason will be that they will be very uncomfortable with the fact the church they lead in the suburbans was once the city of the hill in those very area of the inner city. (There has been a movement of Pentecostal churches moving from the inner city to the “nicer parts” of the cities for the last 30 years)
Having the saints offended and the sinner hungry for more of the Spirit will make some very interesting challenges for the community of faith. I fully expect that there will be some shaking at the high levels of denominations over the revival and how to response to it. The question is if they will fight the outpouring out of saving face or if they will humble themselves and join the broken of society in crying “There MUST be MORE!”
How should we respond?
The clear answer is that churches need to turn their eyes to the inner city of their region and build relationship with the people who call the ghettos home. I firmly believe that God will lead many churches to revive their bus ministry and transport people from the ran down areas out to their beautiful suburban cathedrals. He might even speak to some churches to move back to the urban core where the history of their Assembly started!
What about families of Pentecost? In some cases, I believe that families will hear from the Lord to move to the rough areas and being missionaries to their own cities. Out of that will flow church plants from people that most would never guess God would use. They will be led by God to do it, not commanded to do it by some leadership team. (On a side note, this is the method the Mormons use to grow so quickly)
One thing that God has spoken to the prophets throughout the history of the movement is to the degree that we care for the poor of the earth is the degree that God will give us the wealth of the nations. Prosperity in the scriptures is always connected to the harvest. The call to prosperous has been over-emphasized in our churches and the purpose to prosper has been under-emphasized. Your prosperity is for the poor, not for you.
Those who prepare themselves, their churches, and their ministries to engage the broken of society will be those who are at the forefront of the next revival in America that will shape the culture and lead to a great awakening.