Pentecost is a time of awakening. When our once “strangely warmed” hearts diminish to a dimly lit bulb, we long for the Holy Spirit to rush in with a strong wind and blow life into our faith again.
I Pray for a New Pentecost
Pentecost is also a time of awakening for our church. I pray for a new Pentecost for the Church. In United Methodist Insight, Kim Cape the General Secretary for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, said about the restructure of the United Methodist denomination, “More than we need a new organizational chart, we need a new Pentecost”. I believe that is true of the church in North America — not only United Methodists, but all main line denominations. The church longs for a revival, a new awakening, a new movement of the Holy Spirit that will set us on fire again.
Christian Futurists Disagree
There are two camps of Christian scholars and futurists in the United States. Some predict that the U.S. will be like Europe, over the next two decades becoming increasingly less Christian, less religious, less faithful and more secular. They believe we are entering an irreversible state of spiritual decline and the end of the Christian era in the United States. Others disagree and predict that similar to North American history, we are on the verge of the next great Christian spiritual awakening.
Three Great Awakenings in North American History
Historians of American religion generally recognize three significant awakenings in the United States. The First Great Awakening 1730-1760 impacted the American colonies. We had fiery preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. The revival movement spread from the Wesley brothers in England and people rejected complacent religious practices for the fiery, involved faith of the American colonies.
The second Great Awakening 1800-1830 was all about the expansion of the American frontier. Revivals, camp meetings, and vital faith spread west with the frontier. Circuit riders preached from town to town and started new churches. New forms of Christianity were formed, while social activism, personal piety and religious experiences were valued.
The Third Great Awakening 1890-1920 brought the social gospel movement, the Holiness movement, Phoebe Palmer, the Pentecostals, preachers like Dwight Moody, and musicians like Ira Sankey. Christians became active in the temperance movement, social reforms and founded the Salvation Army.
Is Another Great Awakening on the Horizon?
Is North America entering a new spiritual season for Christianity or are we declining into secularization, and continued spiritual decay? Can we hope there is another great awakening on the horizon for America?
Diana Butler Bass in her book, Christianity after Religion “The end of the Church and the Birth of a new spiritual awakening” says that awakenings begin when old systems break down. The end of the old opens the way for the new. Is a door opening for new forms of Christianity to be born?
I pray for an Awakening that will give the Christian church in America new life in a new emerging form and style. In the words of Chris Tomlin’s Awakening, “In our hearts, Lord, in this nation, Awakening. Holy Spirit, we desire, Awakening”.