This past week I had a private dinner with a prominent African bishop who was involved in a mighty national awakening in Uganda. This dinner, and the fact that last week was the National Day of Prayer in the United States, made me think of the subject of revival, awakening and how it could happen again in my nation.
Along these lines I have spoken to many who believe that global economic and political conditions will continue to deteriorate; because of this, many are receiving a great burden to pray for a global awakening.
As I have spent much time reading the accounts of the First, Second and Third Great Awakenings in the United States, the 20th-century Azusa Street Revival, and renewal outbreaks such as the Latter-Rain Movement of the late 1940s, charismatic movement of the 1960s and '70s, and some smaller renewal movements emanating out of local congregations (Toronto Airport; Pensacola, Florida; etc.), I have come to conclusions regarding some of the greatest cultural, societal hindrances to seeing a major outbreak of awakening (as opposed to a localized congregational awakening) akin to what the United States experienced through Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Finney and the like.
Furthermore, there have been mighty revivals and awakenings in various parts of the Global South (Africa, China, Indonesia and Latin America) that have trumped any of the aforementioned movements. Because of this, I have asked myself many times: Why hasn't anything like this happened recently in North America or Western Europe?
Truly, culture trumps the anointing and can even nullify the Word of God (read Mark 7:13). That is to say, there are presently major cultural hindrances and challenges to seeing the same kind of awakening the United States experienced in the 18th and 19th centuries. We either have to find solutions to overcome these cultural challenges or we have to ask God for another way to penetrate the culture in a more subtle fashion. Either way, we cannot just continue on the same path, expecting a national awakening without addressing some of these pressing issues.
The following are some of my thoughts regarding challenges to national awakening:
1. The fragmentation of face-to-face contact due to social media.
People are simply not engaging in much face-to-face contact anymore. They are connecting via text, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of online social networking. This is hindering the ability of the gospel to effectively gain the attention and focus of young people (and older people as well) because our thought processes are inundated with trivial and often destructive social interaction, as well as internet pornography, video gaming and other things that sap spiritual life and energy from a generation of people!
Consequently, kids are not as socially skilled as previous generations and are not as inclined to spend time studying, reading books, hearing sermons and thinking of things deep and enduring. (Of course, there are many exceptions to this among our young people.)
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