Something special is happening here in Britain. Similar reports are coming in from around the world. I never imagined I would be able to type the next sentence: Since lock down 1 in 4 British people have attended an online service.
That is an astonishing figure. And if you look at young adults the proportion is even higher at one in three! All this was reported in The Guardian which is not exactly known for being pro-church. And in breaking news this morning, 70% of church leaders report a rise in church attendance.
For sure if they all turn up the first week after lockdown our buildings will be completely swamped and overwhelmed.
Some churches are having double the number of virtual attendees than they did back “in real life”. Except isn’t the online life the real world now? Suddenly online evangelism is no longer an optional extra, it is the main way to evangelise. And it can be as easy as during the opening greeting of your service encouraging your congregation to share the link right there and then with their friends over social media or texts. Many who would never darken the door of a church will attend virtually because there is no embarrassment, and no chance of a christian handshake or, worse yet for shy people, a hug.
At what point do we put up our hands and call this a revival? Or at least an Awakening of the Church. Communities are desperate. People are turning to the church for practical help and also for spiritual sustenance. And God’s people have risen to the challenge and are awake to the needs around them. Our churches are adapting well to this strange situation we find ourselves in. Food banks are stepping up to the plate, and church groups are helping the local council in remarkable new ways. Prayer has a renewed urgency.
Some churches are adjusting their online church services to meet the needs of new people not just their regular congregation. Many people are experiencing christian worship, preaching and some form of fellowship for the first time ever. Some may never have stepped foot in a church building in their whole lives.
A new study released today by the Evangelical Alliance has found has shown that churches are reporting a marked increase in people exploring our Christian faith. 700 churches and 196 faith-based organisations were surveyed.
A massive 88% of the surveyed churches are actively meeting the physical needs of vulnerable people struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of whom are working in partnership with local authorities, other churches or charities.
The study, which surveyed churches across denominations including the Church of England, Baptist, Elim, Assemblies Of God, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Methodist, New Frontiers, Presbyterian and independents, was conducted by the Evangelical Alliance in partnership with the charity Stewardship and Eido Research.
“Since lockdown, we have seen churches across the country adapt to the uncertain environment and speak directly to the fear and anxiety that many people are feeling through the UK. Online services are reporting huge levels of interest and thousands are engaging with church for the first time as a place of hope.
At the heart of the mission of the church is a desire to serve the marginalised, feed the hungry and be a place of refuge to those who are isolated. Through food banks and many other service provisions, churches are ensuring vulnerable individuals and families across the country receive the help they need”
Peter Lynas Evangelical Alliance UK Director
Churches are seeing first hand the challenges this corona-crunch is causing. People who were complacent about spiritual matters before are shaken now. Economic problems mean family problems. They mean people struggling to put food on their plates. And they mean people in need of compassion, practical help, and even more importantly hope.
Have you noticed how depressing the News sounds these days? We Christians have GOOD NEWS to share! What better time to be a mouthpiece for hope, as well as a gathering point for the anxious to come and pour out their fears to God. We offer hope to a world that is increasingly hungry for spiritual answers.
70% of churches are growing. Has a Covid19 Revival already begun? 1 in 3 young adults have attended online services. Churches are helping their communities and adapting. Results of a new survey of 700 churches make encouraging reading: https://t.co/lFvZZPYvPU #gospel #hope
— Adrian Warnock (@adrianwarnock) June 11, 2020
Suddenly the Psalms take on a whole new meaning. Smart pastors are reminding their listeners it is OK to bring your emotions to God and engage with him honestly. We can come to God with gritty realism, tell him how we feel, but know that ultimately he is sovereign and just as he has delivered us before, he will deliver us from Covid-19 whether he uses a vaccine or by turning back the advancing tide of disease.
There are challenges ahead but we are not facing them in a random universe but one ruled by our loving Father. Yes the suffering we see raises questions for us. But without any hope or God in this world our culture is far less prepared to handle such suffering.
With many people reporting challenges sleeping due to Coronavirus anxiety, perhaps you yourself are using meditation tools like the SoulTime app which will gently read out psalms to you to help you find the peace you need to sleep.
It is vital to recognise what is happening in front of us. A massive doorway for the gospel has opened up in this nation. We really must step through it with both feet and with prayer.
It seems almost 60% of churches ARE praying for people to come to know Jesus. However, fascinatingly only 7% of churches have made adjustments to their services to have them focus primarily on unbelievers. It seems we are a bit unprepared for God to listen to us, and perhaps haven’t recognised our prayers are being answered in bucket loads. It is like the Early Church, praying earnestly for Peter to be released from prison, when he came knocking on the door they were so shocked they thought he had already been executed and they were seeing his ghost!
It does seem that we get what we pray for but also what we prepare for and provide for. If you look only at those few churches which focusing on new people in their meetings as their top priority a whopping 88% have seen an increase in people wanting to understand more about the Christian faith. If your congregation can see and hear that their pastors want newcomers and won’t make them uncomfortable they will invite their friends.
If we are serious about wanting to see a revival, then we must not only pray for one, we must expect one, and we must start to act as if we are already in the middle of a revival. Because when the history of this remarkable and in many ways terrible year is written, perhaps it will be said that this was the start of one of the greatest Awakenings this country has ever seen.
“It is amazing to see that those who think the most important aspect of their Sunday service is providing a place for people to encounter Jesus are more likely to see people make a first-time commitment to follow Him. Imagine the difference it would make if 100% of churches made that a priority on a Sunday, rather than just 7%”
Gavin Calver, CEO, Evangelical Alliance
If we are about to enter a revival, this requires Christian’t to be spiritually awakened. And we are seeing a stirring among the hearts of many back towards their saviour. One mouthpiece that God has been using to deeply stir thousands of Christians in their personal times during this season of lockdown is Tery Virgo.
Terry has been prompted to share almost daily brief video devotions. These mini revelations will cause your own heart to burn anew within you. A man who has walked calmly with his God for decades provides us a glimpse into his relationship with God that is inspiring and encouraging.
As we refresh ourselves in the love of God, and enjoy the peace hope and sense of presence that he brings us, we will find that we want to share this joy with others. Here is one example of Terry’s brief talks, I encourage you to find the rest it won’t take long to catch up on all of them:
To move from being a bit over-familiar with Jesus to being white hot for him is the fist step in experiencing revival. It seems that the second involves being intentional about how you plan your services and urging your whole congregation to engage with their friends and talk with them about faith, or simply invite them to watch church online.
This sermon from Tope Koleoso was designed to spur the church family that I am part of to actively represent Jesus online at this time. Why not ask your church family to watch and be inspired as we were. These days of course if you do invite a visiting preacher, you can simply play a YouTube video over your own feed.
What I liked about this message was the way it demystified evangelism. We just need to find or create an environment online where we can befriend people, offer them compassion, support, and gently talk about the reason for our hope. Some online forums are not open to conversation about faith but you can still be a witness in such an environment and you can also potentially create a new website forum where discussing our deep struggles and inner journey is actively encouraged.
This message directly inspired what I have been trying to accomplish with my own such venture, bloodcanceruncensored.com. By connecting with people at a point of our shared need, I hope and pray that some of them will also be introduced to Jesus. Let God inspire you through this message from the man I have called pastor, friend and brother for 25 years:
Adrian and Tope have written Hope Reborn a brief simple book about the good news.
You can buy copies cheaply to give to your friends, and read it yourself to let the gospel soak into your heart afresh.
More about Revival and offering Hope during the Coronacrunch
For more information about the Evangelical Alliance please visit:
About the Evangelical Alliance
The Evangelical Alliance is made up of hundreds of organisations, thousands of churches and tens of thousands of individuals, joined together for the sake of the gospel. Representing our members since 1846, the Evangelical Alliance is the oldest and largest evangelical unity movement in the UK.
United in mission and voice, we exist to serve and strengthen the work of the church in our communities and throughout society. Highlighting the significant opportunities and challenges facing the church today, we work together to resource Christians so that they are able to act upon their faith in Jesus, to speak up for the gospel, justice and freedom in their areas of influence.
Working across the UK, with offices in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast, our members come together from across denominations, locations, age groups and ethnicities, all sharing a passion to know Jesus and make Him known.