If you want to see revival, plant your church in the gutter.
The church is not a select circle of the immaculate, but a home where the outcast may come in. It is not a palace with gate attendants and challenging sentinels along the entrance-ways holding off at arm’s-length the stranger, but rather a hospital where the broken-hearted may be healed, and where all the weary and troubled may find rest and take counsel together.
The great challenge for the future church won’t be filling pews on Sundays, but rather living and speaking authentically into the cultural pain and ache of our day. Jesus is leading the church where religious hype and cultural callousness cannot go. Our worship before God can never justify our poor relationships. Jesus calls us to restore the broken altars of our families, friendships and relationships before we bring our worship to the altar of God. Reconciliation begins with hearing. Healthy church creates safe, vulnerable, disarming space to hear and be heard by others. A wounded church desperately needs a revival of hearing.
Even though the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have perfect and eternal unity, yet they remain distinct persons. In the same way, even though someday we shall attain perfect unity with other believers and with Christ, yet we shall forever remain distinct persons as well, with our own individual gifts, abilities, interests, responsibilities, circles of personal relationships, preferences and desires.
For too long, many in the Church have argued that unity in the body of Christ across ethnic and class lines is a separate issue from the gospel. There has been the suggestion that we can be reconciled to God without being reconciled to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Scripture doesn’t bear that out. We only need to examine what happened when the Church was birthed to see exactly how God intends for this issue of reconciliation within the body of Christ to fall out.
A church will cease to be a church if the word of Jesus is not preached. But a church will fail to become a church if the Word made flesh does not appear among us, and we touch Him, and see Him, and He us. And sometimes, that happens only when someone has the gall, the audacity, the desperation to break the roof open.
If the church remains self-righteously aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God’s kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of its guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.
We may go to church, pray some prayers, and read our Bibles, but in the end our actions and thoughts betray our belief that the solution to the problem of outrage in our world can be found in a worldly solution.