In Nehemiah 9, there is recorded a long prayer in which a brief history of the Nation of Israel is recorded. In the prayer, we can see, in Israel, the pattern of distress-repentance-renewal-decline repeated over and over again.
In considering this cycle, at first I was a bit dismayed. Any student of church history can see this repeatedly played out. We see great revivals take place and then within a generation or two, the church looks nothing like it did during the revival. As a result, I asked myself, “will we ever get it right?”
But then I am reminded that it is the Holy Spirit that moves and works to cause the revival. It is not something that we can manufacture on our own, even though church growth experts keep trying to do so.
The point is that all the striving, all the effort, all the marketing plans, and methodologies for church growth cannot change a single heart. Only God can do this.
The best we can do is admit our weakness and failure and look to God to grow us up individually. And, we see from Scripture that God will use those who submit to him to accomplish his purpose.
Even in Israel’s darkest moments, there was a remnant of people that remained faithful. Even in the darkest moments of church history, a similar remnant of faithful believers could be found.
I am encouraged by this, as strange as it may seem. Even though there is much to criticize in the American church of 2020, there is also a remnant of people that are fully devoted to God and are crying out to Him to bring revival.
May their prayers be answered soon . . .