July 14th 1986. Ash fell like gray snow from the warm summer sky. The phone rang and mom could be heard gasping in disbelief to the news being transferred from the unknown caller. After she hung up she announced that the Bradley Roper building was on fire.
My sister and I grabbed our bikes and started the short ride across town to see the spectacle. We could see the towering columns of smoke and the occasional licks of orange fire high above the neighboring houses. Ash hung heavy in the air.
We arrived to a mess of firetrucks, spectators, and news media. We watched as strong men rushed around the scene feverishly trying to control the blaze. We met a news reporter from channel 7 in Chicago who wrote, “Don’t play with matches,” on the paper he gave my sister when she asked him for his autograph. That night, our little home town was on the news and everyone talked about the blaze for weeks to come.
“You don’t have to advertise fire,” said Leonard Ravenhill. People are attracted to fire, the bigger the fire, the bigger the crowd. Ravenhill was not speaking about buildings burning but the fire of the Holy Spirit of God moving upon God’s people in God’s church.
You can start a fire, but you can’t manufacture a movement of the Holy Spirit. However, just as you can prevent a fire, you can set up conditions in your own life and to prevent the fire of God’s Spirit from ever sparking in you and in Christ’s church. You can also fan the flames of revival and invite a fresh fire from the Holy Spirit to fall in your life and church.
What are the current conditions? What is the current condition of your life? What is the current condition of God’s church? Is God’s church on fire today? Are we white hot? Are we in the position that all we need is a little wind from God the Holy Spirt to stir us to a blaze?
Likely you have heard the grim statistics.
• 80% of churches in America are plateaued or declining in growth.
Researcher Thomas Rainer reports:
• 50% of all churches in America average less than 100 in worship attendance.
• 40% of all churches in America average between 100 and 350 in attendance.
• 10% of all churches in America average more than 350 in attendance.
Other polling data shows:
• 80% of Americans call themselves Christians
• Between 39-45% Call themselves, “Born Again,” depending on the poll
• Only 32% believe the Bible is actually the Word of God
• 59% of Americans believe in hell
• 82% expect to go to heaven
In his article, “Can dyeing churches be resurrected,” Russell Burrill wrote, “George Barna surveyed churches across America, looking for an adequate number of “turnaround churches” to include in his study. To his amazement, he failed to find a sufficient number of successfully transformed churches to make his research statistically valid. His conclusions point out that it is rare for a church in decline to turn around.”
George Barna says: A church cannot be turned around until a contingent of people are so firmly committed to the ministry of the church that they will sacrifice almost anything for the good of the church, to the glory of God!
We need a ground swell of individuals committed to God’s mission to make disciples. We need a movement of God within His church where young and old put aside their personal preferences, and private agendas to unite in commitment for their community.
“Father in Heaven, bring the fire! Bring Holy Spirit Fire to our families. Bring Holy Spirit fire to our schools. Bring Holy Spirit fire to Your Church! Ignite in us a passion to love You with all we are and love each other as we love ourselves. Bring revival to You church we pray. One more time Lord, one more time before You return, let the fire of revival burn in us even in this dark generation! We pray in the mighty and capable Name above all names, in the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.