1997 Inman Forum

"Churches of Christ: Heritage and Destiny"

Lecture 5



by Dr. Douglas Foster

1. Revitalization will never be produced by human effort, that is, by coming up with programs and schemes to artificially stimulate support for an agenda.

2. It can come only after Christians are humbled. Historically, Christians have been brought to such a state in large numbers when religious and moral conflict in society and in the church produces disruptions--breakdown of clear understandings of what the church is really all about. Christians must be brought to deep personal conviction that they, the church, and their Christian organizations are not what God would have them be. They must admit before God and each other that they cannot "fix" things by simply working harder and being better.

3. Prayer is the most vital element in God's bringing revitalization. This is true for individuals, churches, or movements.

4. Historically "prophetic" individuals have arisen who were used by God to shake the church from its complacency.

5. Wherever revitalization has taken place in the church throughout history, the leaders and followers have always been deeply concerned about the following things. These are not steps leading to renewal; rather, they are evidences that renewal is taking place.

6. There is no doubt that we are in a period of revitalization and renewal, though at times it appears to be a crisis because we cannot control it. It has often been the case that God prepares the church for times of persecution and trial by bringing revitalization and renewal. What are the implications of this possibility for the future of the church?

Some resources for further reading:

[1] Leonard Allen, The Cruciform Church. ACU Press, 1991.

[2] David Bryant, "The Most Hopeful Sign of Our Times: A Growing Prayer Movement Points America Toward Spiritual Renewal," National & International Religion Report, Special Report, 1992.

[3] Douglas A. Foster, Will the Cycle Be Unbroken? ACU Press, 1994.

[4] William G. McLoughlin, Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978), pp. 53-55.

[5] "Spiritual Awakenings in North America," Christian History Magazine, Issue 23, 1989.

[6] Olive Wyon, Living Springs, Westminster Press.

Models of the Life Cycles of Churches


(Strangers and Pilgrims) - - - - - - - - (At home in the world)