If you’ve never heard of Brian Campbell, you need to. He is a gifted musician, song writer, and worship leader. I’ve been getting to know him over the last 4 months and am increasingly encouraged by our friendship. Because of a recent conversation that we had, I’ve asked him to write a blog post for us about what he has seen God doing in the church around the USA. It’s pretty encouraging. Enjoy. – Mario
Jesus’ disciples consistently operated from a place of experience. Before the community leaders, Peter and John acknowledge their chief argument is only “what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20); Paul’s entire ministry was based upon a single encounter with the Son of God on the Damascus road where he was commanded to bear witness to he had seen and heard (Acts 22:15); John begins his gospel with his own testimony: “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). A sort of holy “show and tell” ensued in the first century, where ordinary people saw Jesus and their lives were changed as they simply shared what He did.
Mario asked me to write briefly about what we have seen on the road in this exciting season of the American church. I talked with our team this week at Come&Live [(www.comeandlive.com) they're absolutely brilliant by the way!] and our friends are seeing the same things. For me it took seeing the awakening theme on seven consecutive church signs–and for my good friend Aaron Long to write a song about it. The reality is that it seems like across denominations, across church creeds, and across state boundaries, there is a strong sense of expectation, of movement, of becoming, and of stepping into purpose. It is like something beautiful and long dormant has begun to stir again in the people of God–and not just on the fringes or from the pulpits, but in the pews!
The theme was so strongly and frequently visited through our spring event locations, that I decided to do a study of the “great awakenings” in this country’s history. All began in the first decades of a new century, first in the 1700s, with preachers like Jonathan Edwards and the Wesley Brothers (great bluegrass band name by the way). It brought the country to a place of experience, away from mere ritual to heartfelt faith. It was so deeply influential that eighty years later the writers of the American Constitution, heavily influenced by their French counterparts, could not make the radical shift to anti-God, but rather could only move Him to a place of the Unmoved Mover, the deist’s God. The 1800s saw a second great awakening, a move under preachers like Charles Finney which focused on the salvation of lost people. It led within 30 years to the end of slavery and the birth of evangelicalism. It can be argued that a third great awakening was witnessed at Azusa Street with Catherine Coleman in the early 20th century. In a sense rediscovering the Person of the Holy Spirit, who was long marginalized in many Protestant churches, the 20th centuries great awakening led to the Jesus Movement, the charismatic renewal in the early 1980s, the general appreciation and rediscovery of a vital person of the Godhead in the evangelical church.
As we are well engaged in the 20th century, there is a sense that this day’s great awakening is at hand: I see individuals who were on the road for years of effective ministry being planted in local churches to care for God’s people; I see others who, like me, grew in the local church and are now being virtually pulled into a broader role in the people of God. This shift and shake-up tells me God is at work, bringing people into the roles that He has prepared them for in this time. It’s a time to prepare God’s people, to equip, and to cultivate, and to encounter the living God. But then again, all times are good to encounter Him.
What encourages me most about this days’ awakening is that instead of one charismatic figurehead or apostolic figure leading the charge, there are literally tens of thousands of people around this nation doing exactly what I do. Many of them have similar hearts, gifts, andpassions, and they’re all needed! I think about a scripture I read that says everything is a “yes” in Christ, and in this season, I believe this is particularly relevant. Do you feel called to care for homeless people? Do it! Do you see a need to help rescue children from human trafficking in Europe? Do it! Do you want to try to lead worship at your local church? Do it! Do it, learn and do it better, learn to do it with others, learn to structure your life in a way to unleash the Kingdom through whatever you’re doing.
In all of it, get ready, stay ready, get others ready. The great awakening of our time is about to begin.
To learn more about Brian Campbell visit www.briancampbellmusic.com