Thursday, August 6, 2015

Local Churches and Spiritual Awakening

Readers of recent articles in Oikonomia are no doubt troubled as I have been by the seemingly increasing pace of the moral breakdown in America.  My first reaction to developments like the erosion of respect for law enforcement and justice, and the legalization of same-sex marriage was to blame the president for lack of moral leadership, and the Supreme Court for overriding the will of the majority by “legislating from the bench” (See “Cultural Influence of a Committed Minority”).  Then, God’s Spirit reminded me, convicted me, and caused me to look upward as it were to an even “higher court,” the throne of God.  My sharply pointing finger weakened, fell limp, and then turned to aim at my own heart, so often “prone to wander… prone to leave the God I love,” and so much in need of confession and repentance of sin in my own life.

My personal soul searching in recent weeks led to what I expressed in a second Oikonomia article, “IndividualAccountability and Spiritual Awakening.”  While I was finishing this article, the leadership of our church, West Hill Baptist Church, unbeknown to me, was meeting and prayerfully considering God’s leading for our local church in the community of Wooster and Wayne County in the midst of the increasing evidence of moral breakdown in our society.  The result of this time of prayer and submission to God on the part of West Hill pastors and lay leadership was an assembly of pastors from 15 churches in our area to participate in a prayer vigil, held at 1:00 pm on Sunday, August 2 at the Wayne County Fair Grounds.

Front-page account of prayer vigil

The purpose of this prayer vigil was not to point fingers, call out sinners, or assign blame.  Rather, the pastors who participated communicated by their presence that they have decided to “put a stake in the ground regarding what the church is and Who it represents.”  In the words of Pastor Mark Davenport, co-pastor at West Hill Baptist Church, as quoted in The Daily Record, “Let’s as churches pray for the churches.  The church needs to start loving people better, making our marriages better, making our relationships better.  These issues must be a priority,” he said, “if Christians are to minister to others.”

It was a humbling and moving experience for Abby and I to join over 1,500 others as we were led in prayer by several local pastors, each in their turn, from the Scripture in 2 Chronicles 7: 14 which states:

and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

As we sensed the presence of God’s Spirit, I thanked God for our local church and our pastoral staff that preaches and teaches the Word of God regularly both from the platform and by their living example of humility and godliness.  We also stood that day with many fellow believers with whom we have served, and for whom we have prayed, and who have prayed for us.  In all of this, I realized that although it is true that spiritual awakening in a nation begins and spreads when individuals mourn and confess their sins to God and repent, there is also an important responsibility of the local church and pastoral leadership to foster an atmosphere of humble submission and repentance within individuals which in turn can impact families and the community.  I pray that the ground on which we stood and prayed on August 2 will be the beginning of a spiritual awakening in our church as well as in the Wooster and Wayne County area, and across our nation.

Thomas Doohan's coverage in The Daily Record (continued)
I want to thank Thomas Doohan, Staff Writer of The Daily Record for attending the prayer vigil and providing an excellent account of the event.  You can read Mr. Doohan’s article by clicking on the graphics above and at right.  The article is linked here by permission of The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio.

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