Power and Purpose
I spent a few days in northwest Wales this past week exploring the idea of a church plant. This region of the UK once had a number of flourishing churches and was a world leader for evangelism. In fact, the Welsh Revival of 1903 had a profound influence on the Azusa Street outpouring in Los Angeles which ignited the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements that many of us are a part of today. Sadly, most of the Welsh churches today are either closed or dying and the leaders are greatly discouraged.
From what I witnessed on my visit to Wales, it seems the church lost ground when it stopped praying for the power of the Holy Spirit and ignored its purpose of pursuing the lost. If a church loses these two ideas, death is certain. These simple truths propelled the First Century church from an illegal group of ragtag Christ followers to a powerful cultural force that changed the world. Notice what happened in Acts 2 in the very first moments of the first church. The Holy Spirit baptized the believers with power and thousands of people were saved on the first day the church ever existed.
In Wales, the church became too formal and refused to change its ideology to reach a 20th Century Welsh culture that was going through radical cultural shifts caused by two world wars. The church became obsessed with chapels and steeples instead of people. The church’s theology did not emphasize prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit or a passionate pursuit of the lost. Therefore, the church lost its relevance and now the only ones attending are a few committed followers, most over the age of 60. If substantial changes are not made soon, the Welsh church could become extinct.
However, I sense something new and fresh is about to happen in Wales. There is a group of young leaders and mature visionaries who are leading a movement to plant life-giving churches throughout the land. They are committed to power and purpose and, therefore, I believe they will succeed. They are realizing that stagnant days call for radical action and fierce faith.
The church in America must learn from what happened in Wales or we will repeat the mistakes and find ourselves irrelevant and powerless. I am leading New Life back to the fuel source – passionate prayer that brings power from heaven and a focus on the lost and hurting. We cannot change what has happened in Wales, but we can pray for the fire to be reignited and for our own hearts to remain ablaze.