The first of a series of three on the desperate need for spiritual renewal in our lives, churches and land.
churches and land.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army is quoted as saying…
‘The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
In a similar vein, Mark Sayers in ‘Disappearing Church (2016), pages 15-16’ writes,
‘Post Christianity attempts to move beyond Christianity, while simultaneously feasting upon its fruit. Post Christian culture attempts to retain the solace of faith, whilst gutting it of the costs, commitments, and restraints that the gospel places on the individual will. Post Christianity intuitively yearns for the justice and shalom of the kingdom, whilst defending the reign of the individual will.’

When I read these quotes, I found myself saying ‘Yes’ out loud, and nodding my head in agreement!

I see so many of our churches involved in wonderful ministries of love, care, justice, pastoral support etc. Yet, I sense in many, a feeling of spiritually dehydration.

Unless people are encouraged and supported to turn away from unhealthy choices, to turn toward Jesus (repentance) and to respond to his love, those ministries will fail to reach their true salvific, justifying, healing, reconciling and transformational power.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could cultivate environments where a true Kingdom vision could flourish? Not one centred on human comfort, reason, or compromise, but one where everything is surrendered to Christ and learning to follow him wherever he may lead.

If we are committed to cultivating the soil for the growth of a Kingdom vision, it is vital that we encourage one another to love Jesus with all our heart, soul and mind, to find our primary identity in him, to grow in our respective calls, gifting and character and to be prepared to let go of anything that could topple him from the number 1 slot…whether in our own lives, in the church or in our church networks. That’s the kind of radical faith that Jesus calls us to in Matthew 16:24-26……’take up your cross and follow me.’ It is only by living such a ’cross life’ that we can truly live the resurrection life, in the power of the Spirit.

…. And we will certainly need the power of the Spirit to live this radical life because any vision emerging from such a place will likely be a big vision – because it will be God’s vision and not ours! It will also probably be an uncomfortable vision, one requiring us to nail more and more of our own preferences to the cross until the way is clear for God to do ‘infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.’(Ephesians 3:20)

But God’s spirit doesn’t generally show up where God’s spirit is not wanted. So, if we want God’s Spirit to be poured out upon the dry and parched land of our lives, our churches, and this nation, we need to avoid seeking to satiate our thirst by prioritising other ‘important matters’ and instead ask God to give us a holy thirst for an outpouring of his Spirit….in his way!

Whilst the ways, means and timing of revival are entirely up to God, we can surely prepare our own hearts and that of our churches for renewal. That way we can be trusted to love, care for and disciple all those he longs to send us to, and to bring through our doors.

I know that many of you share my passionate desire for an outpouring of God’s Spirit amongst and through our Baptist churches. Let’s keep praying and let’s keep preparing – perhaps, we are not so much post-Christian as we are pre-revival. 

 If you feel parched and thirsty and want the Holy Spirit to be poured into your life afresh as God’s people, I’d love to have a chat – we can encourage one another! Whilst I certainly can’t promise revival or renewal, I’d love to get a diary date so that together we can get the church talking and thinking about ‘preparing the ground’, radical discipleship and the Holy Spirit’s transforming power.

I can offer a 60-minute interactive ‘Thirsty’ seminar. In this we look at some of the things Jesus said about the Holy Spirit and how that might shape us as whole-life missionary disciples. Typically, this would work as part of a longer evening or morning alongside sung worship and prayer or could form part of an away day.

Also, I have a number of ‘Thirsty’ preaches. If these fit in with your preaching plan, I’d be happy to have a chat and see if I can encourage you as you explore being ‘thirsty for more of Jesus!’

Lindsay Caplen

Regional Minister (Pioneering & Planting) – West of England Baptist Network.

Lindsay Caplen

Lindsay works for the West of England Baptist Association, pastorally supporting and equipping churches and ministers and developing missional networks in the region. She also works for the Church Team (formerly ‘Imagine’) at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.