The Unrecognized Revival
Pastors have called for revival from their pulpits. Thousands of prayer warriors have earnestly entreated the Lord to send revival to our land. There have been committees, commissions, and conferences on revival. Every Christian political effort in the past decade has had a call to revival as an integral part of its vision and efforts.
The great revivals of the past have witnessed massive numbers of people accepting the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ accompanied a general improvement of the moral fabric of society. In short, we have seen a whole generation turn to Christ.
Do we see any evidence of such a revival anywhere in America? Alas, after ten years of efforts to jump-start a revival in this nation we have to confess that there is no revival—at least no revival reminiscent of the great revivals of the past.
Abortion remains deeply entrenched as a national shrine to murder and selfishness. Pornography—as it was culturally defined twenty years ago—now appears regularly on network television. The beer and car commercials are worse than the programs.
We see growth in some churches. We see individuals getting saved, but we see no culture-shaking revival.
A noted Christian author wrote recently that he frankly believed that we had totally failed to produce any real revival. Many Christian leaders share this negative view—at least in private. For most Christians this would be the end of the story.
However, most Christians haven't been looking for revival in the right places. While revival isn't sweeping Capitol Hill or Main Street or Wall Street or the public schools or even the churches of our nation, in tens of thousands of homes—home-schooling homes—a revival is truly aflame.
Revivals cannot be man-made. I also do not intend to cheapen the term “revival” by suggesting that the mere fact that people are home schooling their children is a revival ipso facto. A revival occurs when God reaches down and miraculously breathes new life into a society. A revival requires a generation to be set on fire for God.
Consider the evidence. For generation upon generation each family sees itself in moral decline. Each generation is a little more morally permissive than its predecessors. Our generation accepted the first wave of rock and roll, and we grew our hair long. The current generation accepts Satanic rock, shaves half their hair and dyes the other half purple.
Most teens in evangelical churches today are more sexually promiscuous than the non-churched kids I went to high school with during the late sixties. For a long time there has been a downward spiral with each generation getting a little worse than the one before. This downward spiral is described in Scripture in Deuteronomy 5:8–10: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
The consequences of sin are reaped for three or four generations, spiraling steadily downward into the moral morass. But there is an up-spiral as well—a spiral of blessing which is promised for a thousand generations of those who love and obey God.
We have been home schooling for nine years. I can tell you with utter confidence that my children are more spiritually mature and more morally pure than I was at their age. I was raised in a Christian home, but like everyone else in my church I was on the downward spiral.
I have seen thousands of home-schooling kids. I know a number of them well. It is clear that the reversal of moral and spiritual direction which I have seen in my children is typical among Christian home schoolers. Your kids are like mine—they are more spiritually mature and more morally pure than you probably were at their age. Our friends in our churches whose kids attend public schools cannot, for the most part, share in our joy of seeing the upward spiral of blessing evidenced in the lives of their children.
Today there are over a half-million children in home-schooling families. The vast majority see their children experiencing the upward spiral of blessing. God is honoring those who obey Him by teaching their children at home. This is a big enough number to constitute a revival, and it is significant enough to shake a culture. And this is certainly a generation set on fire for God!
This is a revival. It is different from the revivals in the past, but at least in one sense it is potentially superior to the past great revivals. This revival has the clear potential of lasting for several generations—in fact, it could last until the Lord returns.
The great revivals of the past died out. A generation is set on fire, the next generation lives mediocre lives, and the third generation is deviant. These have been revivals of individuals. These revivals have been wider in scope but more shallow in terms of staying power.
We are witnessing a revival among families that has the potential of being an ongoing revival. I will not count my home schooling a success until I see my children home schooling their kids with a view toward instilling this Godly commitment for the next generation as well. If this happens, we will see the upward spiral continue where each generation is a little better than its predecessor. This is the promise of a blessing from God for a thousand generations of those who love and obey God.
We have come to have the deepest respect for the great revival preachers of the past. I would suggest that someday Christians will look back with genuine respect and admiration for the first generation of moms and dads who sacrificed to launch the revival which, although unrecognized at first, eventually swept a nation.
Michael P. Farris>