Tuesday, November 6, 2007
A Revival for Our Time
I spent the last two days in Atlanta where I was privileged to be a part of a revival at Ebenezer Baptist Church. This revival had all of the usual elements: singing (Helen Baylor, Dottie Peoples, and choirs), preaching (yours truly), prayer and praise (at least half of those assembled). But this revival had more: voter registration, feeding the homeless, scholarly discussion (Dr. Obery Hendricks discussing The Politics of Jesus). It was themed "Victory in the Village" and had at its core a concern for the holistic needs of a community in crisis.
While I was in Atlanta, breaking news announced that six prominent "mega ministries" are under Senate investigation. Yet again, the images of ministerial opulence that include half-million dollar cars, multi-million dollar estates, jet planes, and prosperity preaching dominated the media coverage of Christian life. I was embarrassed, though no longer surprised, since we have come to take these distortions of the gospel for granted. And I might say especially in Atlanta.
But I am thankful that conspicuous consumption is not the only story. Ebenezer is not the only church bearing witness. God still has prophets who have not bowed the knee the god of this world. Jesus still has some followers. I hope that my efforts contributed to the transformation of a few more.