Before we discuss the reasons for the event, let me explain what churches actually did on July 5. The vision of the event was to follow up on our July 4th celebration for the nation's independence with a spiritual act on July 5th that would stand in the hearts and minds of people attending church services. Churches conveyed a simple message to their members that with all the economic, cultural, and spiritual problems at work in our nation, we need mercy and grace from God.
Although individual churches pointed out different problems as reasons for the faithful to call upon God, there was a universal declaration that many of our nation's woes are not the result of "sinners gone wild" but rather the absence of a clear Christian witness from the Church. In various words, preachers declared, "Even though the nation celebrated independence from the King of England on the 4th, the Church is recognizing and celebrating its need for dependence upon its King, Jesus Christ, on July 5th."
Most preachers articulated yesterday the calling that each of us have to be salt and light to our families, our communities, and the nation. In my Call 2 Fall sermon, I told my audience that I was going to teach them how to R.A.P. The word R.A.P. is a device to help listeners remember that one way we can get unstuck spiritually and move into new levels of personal growth is to use Repentance, Alignment, and Promotion. Repentance involves self examination, taking the blame for short comings, and recognizing our need for the power of the Holy Spirit to live a Christian life. Second, Alignment involves acknowledging that living for Christ involves personally deciding that we will walk in Christian love, despite persecution or ridicule. Third, Promotion and increased influence comes to those who walk humbly with God. The Lord promises that He will give grace to the humble, lifting them into position. I stated to the audience that they can change the world by becoming increasingly more Christ-like. "R.A.P.ping" can change our lives and the world around us.
This kind of preaching was typical of the messages delivered yesterday - heartfelt words spoken to people that understand that sometimes Christian activists get the cart before the horse. Sometimes we get so involved in strategies, structures, and grassroots mobilization around issues that we are passionate about that we forget that everything we do must be undergirded by the spiritual disciplines of prayer and personal faithfulness to Christian principles. Although congregational leaders hope that this event will become a major national movement, yesterday was a call to each and every American Christian to remember that we are each responsible to become an individual watchman on the wall of our nation.
As a member of Tony Perkins's Pastor's Council, I had the privilege of hearing about this event months before churches began to get involved. At that time, I could not help but think that only one thing could turn things around for America - a spiritual awakening. Historically, the awakenings of American history were essentially course correction devices that God used to bring America back to her original course and vision.
America has experienced at least two occasions in which the nation turned back to Christian beliefs and church attendance in great numbers. The First Great Awakening occurred from1730-1755 and the Second Great Awakening took place from 1790-1840.
We, the Church, must remember that we are not called to simply win arguments, court cases, or debates alone. We are called to win people. We must be a prophetic voice to the culture while maintaining the ability to speak to needs of individual people.
Charles Finney was a major revivalist in the Second Great Awakening. Finney's work in Rochester, New York in the1830s resulted in the majority of the city turning to Christ. What Finney describes here is the kind of impact and outreach we need today.
"The greatness of the work at Rochester, at that time, attracted so much of the attention of ministers and Christians throughout the State of New York, throughout New England, and in many parts of the United States, that the very fame of it was an efficient instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God in promoting the greatest revival of religion throughout the land, that this country had then ever witnessed... One hundred thousand were reported as having connected themselves with churches, as the results of that great revival. This is unparalleled in the history of the church, and of the progress of religion." He spoke of this having been done in just one year! May God revive His Church and shift the culture back to its original moorings. Please join me in praying that we hear the Call 2 Fall every day.