Yesterday, as part of my annual summer church tour, I visited a Disciples of Christ congregation in my home area. Only about 30 people attended the service; the meeting actually took place in the church gym, not its sanctuary. The immediate neighborhood, shall we say, has itself seen better days. And — the two primary pastors, including the preacher, were women, of course unacceptable in some Christian circles.
But mentioned during the service was distributing socks and underwear through the local ministerium for the children at one of the local schools, and the message itself was about generosity. The preacher also mentioned that she refused to take morning appointments because she needed, and was encouraged, to take that time to spend with God. Moreover, it was a supporter of William Barber, another pastor in that denomination who has been holding “Moral Mondays” in the state of North Carolina to promote racial and economic justice.
While it’s too soon to tell, it appears to me that this church is well on its way toward a deeper walk with God as a church and thus ready to minister His healing touch to a neighborhood that certainly needs it — and that’s how and where revival will break out.
I contrast this with the recent “laying hands” on President Donald Trump by several prominent evangelical leaders, one of them, Rodney Howard-Browne, enthusiastically saying that “we are going to see another great spiritual awakening."
The trouble is, of course, is that folks like Howard-Browne wouldn’t recognize revival if it hit them in the face.
I’ve said time and time again that much of American evangelicalism sold out God by supporting Trump. That has angered a lot of his supporters, of course, but consider this: When you have or seek political, social, economic and cultural power, why would you need or want the power of the Holy Spirit (which should supersede all of those)? Such folks make the horrendous mistake of believing that change of that kind takes place from the top down, that were Christians to take over leadership of various institutions things would turn around.
And with that is the dangerous assumption that only their having that kind of power will cause change.
Just before the 2006 general election ABC News “Nightline” broadcast a segment of two Christians — one lonely figure from a small church whose name I don’t even remember that was protesting the war in Iraq; the other, “patriot pastor” Rod Parsley, who was bragging about the numbers that his side could turn out. (If you remember, the Republican Party, whom Parsley was clearly supporting, was routed in that election nationwide.)
I’m also reminded of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, with the Pharisee looking down on the publican and the publican admitting not feeling worthy to lift his eyes to God — likely a complete shock to Jesus’ audience. But such humility is where true ministry begins, in part because when you experience your own brokenness and allow God to heal it you can transmit that to others.
That is why the female pastor at that little church in an impoverished area is far more likely than all these big shots currying favor with an ethically challenged president whom they in essence worship to feel the presence of the LORD. In fact, I seriously doubt that they’ll feel Him at all.