Introducing “The Everyday Awakening”

I’m excited to introduce The Everyday Awakening—a blog about the revival that’s happening where you are.

My first job at twenty-one was as a journalist. I learned to write for others by writing stories about faith and politics for an early webzine. I’ve never stopped writing stories about how faith inspires people to engage the world in creative ways. But my main writing for the past six years has been in books and the occasional commentary for magazines and blogs.

But I’m launching The Everyday Awakening because there’s an under-reported story about how faith is inspiring small experiments in a radically new way of life. These experiments in truth are interrupting the bad news we read about in the church and in our world. And they are awakening hope in communities around the world.

America has a tradition of Great Awakenings—times when we remember the Spirit blowing across our land and demonstrating God’s power in people’s lives. These revivals have renewed the church in our culture, giving rise to new denominations and swelling the ranks of the faithful. They’ve also pricked the conscience of this nation’s soul, sparking reform movements from the abolitionists of the 19th century to the “What Would Jesus Do?” campaign of the early 20th century to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. Our history teaches us to hope for a Great Awakening.

We have good reason for this hope. The God whom we know in Jesus has not abandoned us.

But the awakening that happens when the Spirit blows across our lives does not have to be “great”—at least, not if “great” means crowds of people filing into open fields or stadiums to hear talented communicators articulate the good news for our day. When Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” testified to God’s power in the early days of the Christian movement, he wasn’t noticed because of his communication savvy. People listened to Peter because they saw signs of hope in the new community he and John were part of. What they noted was that he and his friends had “been with Jesus.” They had been given power to lead a different kind of life (see Acts 4:-13).

So maybe we’re not waiting for the next Great Awakening. Maybe we don’t need another George Whitfield or Charles Finney, a Dwight Moody or Billy Graham. Maybe the Spirit is already breathing new life into the church and into God’s good world through the everyday awakenings that are happenings all around.

In hundreds—maybe thousands—of little communities that are mostly overlooked, people are being stirred by the Spirit to lead a different kind of life. It’s a life that doesn’t make sense if the gospel isn’t true. But because these people have been with Jesus—because they’ve somehow gotten the truth of God’s story deep down in their bones—their life does make sense.

Indeed, the way of Jesus is now the only way of living that makes any sense at all.

To see your life from this vantage point is to see a whole new world of possibility. It’s like waking up from a bad dream to realize the thing that most scared you—the thing that just a moment before was as real as the price of gas—was only an illusion.

The way things are is not the way things have to be.

There is a new creation all around us.

It’s an everyday awakening that can happen anywhere. When it does, you know you’ve found what you were looking for. You don’t have to go somewhere else to find the answer. Your desperate search is over because God has met you where you are.

The Everyday Awakening is one attempt to chronicle this movement of the Spirit in our world today. I’ll report on signs of hope I see in regular “feature” stories, invite personal stories from movement participants in “testimonies,” and offer a weekly “Front Porch” meditation from the little corner of God’s quiet revolution where I live at Rutba House in Walltown.

I hope these dispatches are good news to you. And I hope you’ll help spread the word.

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  • Tripp Hudgins

    I will follow. Thank you, Jonathan.

  • Shannon

    Much looking forward to this. Witnessing awakening is a gift, always. It’s like being present at a birth, anticipating what is possible when the Spirit stirs up our embers. I get to see it all the time in my small community where we gather for Eucharist and common meals nearly every day of the week. My favorite thing is when we nab someone new and immerse them into our shared life. The energy of finding themselves beloved and known sweeps them along like a current, or sweeps them up into new imagination, and it’s an immense gift to watch the Spirit ignite in them and begin to consume them in new ways. And we who are being consumed love to fan the new flames, like children discovering a campfire for the first time, and begging for more. In then end, we find out usually we are also fanned flames.

    Reading along…

    • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

      Beautiful, indeed. Keep fanning the flame.

      One piece of this blog is “testimonies,” in which anyone can tell a story of what they see God doing where they are. Would love to have you share about one of these friends who’s becoming part of the family–being blessed and blessing ya’ll.

      • Shannon

        I would be blessed to share a story. I’m not sure how that works exactly, but I’m open to a bit of guidance! :) Thank you much…

  • Erin Thomas

    Thanks for this, Jonathan. Looking forward to sojourning with you and others through this blog.

    Lac La Biche, Alberta was not the community I ever expected to find myself ending up in. Deep down, I was convinced I was to live and create community in “The-Inner-City-of-Somewhere”. But here I am in a small town miles away from anywhere, but bearing witness to collisions of cultures, religions, communities, statuses, and ages. So often we desire and fear at the same time those “big” messages from God expounding an eternal message – it’s what we look for, what we listen for. Yet it is the subtle stirrings of the Spirit that create upheaval. It is those currents, movements and nuances of daily life that we often get bogged down in as routine that become the greatest catalysts for love to simply announce itself. I don’t know what this will look like in my home community. We’re not meant to, I don’t think. It’s not only part of our limited vision, but it’s part of the delightful mystery too… the expectant faith, not quite knowing what will happen, but assured by Christ that something most definitely will – good, bad, and ugly. And in the ugly, there is good. How can we not look forward to these quiet stirrings of community?

    • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

      Amen. And “Go ahead,” as we say in our church, when we want the preacher to keep on going…

  • Joshua

    Looking forward to reading more

  • Drew Downs+

    I love it! Keep it up!

  • Sarah Taylor

    Shannon, your words are an inspiration – keep doing what you’re doing! I too have lived that kind of life and long to be part of such a life again in the new place we live. But the Spirit is eternally creative, seeking a new way of moving in each situation – we long to look back and recreate the old ways but He moves us on and transforms our concept of ‘what should be’ (what was) to ‘what shall be’ (what is now)… We have to be brave, hold on and go where He goes…and there is joy in that unexpected journey- well that’s what I’m learning right now :-) Thank you!

    • Shannon

      Sarah, thank you for your kind encouragement and for sharing a bit of your own experience with me. Most of the time, I have no idea what we’re doing in our small community or why it works. I’m new myself – three years in. We just keep showing up to pray, and maybe that’s our part.

      I hear you so much about longing to look back and recreate what we once had, and maybe the challenges of letting go in surrender enough that the Spirit can move among us and open to us new ways of life together with others. I’ve never had quite my current experience before (or anything near to it), but in times past I’ve found that moving (whether location or just any movement in life, even moving in response to God’s beckoning in my depths) has usually needed the tender work of grieving in order for me to be open to “what shall be.” I know that I would grieve losing this, and so I imagine that being in a new place with a life-giving experience in your history must be an aching sort of experience. May you find yourself made courageous in the journey, with child-like open eyes of anticipation, ready to follow with your hand in the hand of our God – and may there be much joy.

      Thank you again for sharing with me…

  • Kurt Willems

    Excited to have u part of the patheos community brotha!

    • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

      Many thanks. Glad for the chance to host this conversation re: hope in our time.

  • Rachel

    So excited to read more. What a wonderful idea for encouragement and inspiration…thankyou!

  • Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

    We had a small Intentional Eucharistic Community here but for a variety of reasons it has all but disappeared. We did in my humble opinion witness to Jesus Presence to the people in the downtown area where we met at a local coffee shop and where we held our Eucharists outside on the street in front of the coffee shop. We even had one adult baptism under a tree! Our “mission statement”was “to be a little leaven in the loaf of downtown”. I write to ask your prayers for a new beginning of this community. We still have a group site on Facebook called as was our community “All Saints and Sorts”.
    Peace and Thank You.

    • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

      prayers, indeed. Where are you located?

      • Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

        We are in Asheville N C. Drop me a line via email when you get the chance.

  • Mark Lansaw

    great new site. I am very interested in the new monastic life, any info you coud email me woukd be very much appreciated. God bless, peace and good brother

  • Dan

    Hey, JWH,

    love the concept and title. we do need signals of hope.

    our God is faithful, even through times where we don’t recognize Him in our own story, perhaps the beacon will glimmer through the stories of others.

  • Devon Lee

    Wow, this piece of writing is nice, my younger sister is analyzing such things, thus I am going to let know her.

    • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

      Thanks for helping us spread the word, Devon.