From Revival to Renewal


Wow! Like so many I was blown away by the recent revival that took place at Asbury in Wilmore, Kentucky. Thousands of young people converged upon this small town of Wilmore which boasted of one stoplight and a two-lane highway to drive by the college campus and the adjoining seminary. 

But a revival took place that was not planned and certainly not organized in any traditional sense like for example, a Billy Graham Crusade. When I say not “organized” ask the overwhelmed Wilmore police who did all they could to simply direct traffic and create parking spots where space permitted. Yet, long lines of young people politely stood—waiting at times in the rain—and so very grateful to receive a bottle of water, or a slice of pizza, or a Chic-fil-A and yes, restrooms that were always open and available and cleaned by volunteers.  

Not organized sounds like it was disorganized or chaotic. But not so. I had the privilege of hearing Asbury Seminary professor, Dr. Winfield Bevins speak at St. Francis in the Fields about the character and uniqueness of the Asbury Revival. Speaking to an overflowing class of adults he brought home the importance of tradition, rootedness, sacraments and of course, the experience of God. As Director of Church Planting, Dr. Blevins addressed the hunger young people feel and their desire for intimately knowing the presence of God. The revival at Asbury is a holy place where God showed-up and met these young people at their greatest need.

There will no doubt be all kinds of pundits, academics and scholars who will try and pick this revival apart and compartmentalize it in ways that makes sense to them. But the power of this revival was not necessarily for them. It was for the young people who found new life.

The question of how to sustain this change or transformation will be the task of the church to carefully develop the understanding of revival with the guidance and discernment found in renewal.  What I have learned over the years is the Spirt does not leave us in one place, even if we have had a mountain-top experience, or an Asbury revival. At some point, God calls us to follow Jesus from the intensity of a revival to living a life of renewal.

This is not binary thinking or polar opposites where we make one choice over another. Rather, change and transformation take us into a centered-life in Christ where we become attentive and aware of a lasting revival within which is capable of responding to an external new and different way of living life in Christ. All components of our existence are “hard-wired” by the Holy Spirit who relates us and unites us to the will of God. St. Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, [or this age] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God.” (Romans 12:2)    

I write today knowing a second edition of, The Door to Renewal, will be released by Elk Lake Publishing, and it will be available at Amazon, March 15. I mention this because if you are interested in reading more about renewal this book, may be a good place to begin.

Picture of Robin Jennings

Robin Jennings

Robin T. Jennings is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, and an accomplished author, speaker and teacher who inspires his audiences with Biblical guidance and spiritual insights into everyday life. Whether he has the opportunity to speak to churches, businesses or organizations, Robin’s lifetime of work in spiritual transformation and renewal connects individuals with timely topics such as the importance of community, hope, identity and the search for meaning which are inevitably woven into his message.

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