It’s time to get serious about spiritual revival

Bishop Gary Mueller

Bishop Gary Mueller

There’s a gut-wrenching reality we need to face as the people called United Methodists in Arkansas. Too many of our congregations continue to become smaller and grow older, we struggle to reach young people and we fail to see lives, communities and the world transformed by the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am extremely frustrated by this reality. And, like you, there are times I wonder why we just don’t give up and lovingly care for a dying patient in a radically changing culture, an institution that only changes painfully and slowly—and with little success in spite of working harder and harder.

That is why we need to understand the true nature of the crisis we are experiencing. It’s not cultural, institutional or managerial. Rather, it’s spiritual.

While that is hard for me to admit as the spiritual leader of the Arkansas Conference, I also know it’s true. And I think I know why. We have become disconnected from the one who has given birth to the Church: Jesus Christ. Sometimes this has been intentional and, at other times, it’s just happened. But the result is the same. We don’t allow Jesus Christ be our Savior and Lord, as individuals or as the Church.

A spiritual crisis requires a spiritual solution if we want things to change. And the only solution I know is spiritual revival—deeply rooted in Jesus’ unconditional, transformational and invitational love, and also rooted in our desire to get serious about our discipleship like we never have before.

Spiritual revival is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s literally the resurrecting of a dry-bones church into the living Body of Christ, doing things of which we had only dreamed before. It’s so powerful that it changes us from the inside out, binds us together into a passionate movement of disciples making disciples and enables us to share in Jesus’ work of transforming lives, communities and the world.

This is exactly what we need, more than anything else in our church that is unconnected in so many ways… in a culture that scoffs at the Christian faith as increasingly irrelevant… and in a broken and battered world that desperately needs the Good News of Jesus Christ, even if it doesn’t know it yet.

Beware: Getting serious about spiritual revival won’t be easy. The phrase itself conjures up all sorts of negative connotations for too many people. We’ll be tempted to try engineering a revival instead of receiving it from the Holy Spirit. And we may try to embrace spiritual revival as a way of saving an institution instead of becoming the kind of church God calls us to be.

And that’s why it’s time—in fact, way past time—to get serious about experiencing spiritual revival. It’s why I’ve spent so much time talking about it since becoming your bishop. And it’s why I believe with all my heart that this is the time God is calling all United Methodist Christians in Arkansas—regardless of geographical location, theological conviction, church size, ethnicity or age—to join in a special emphasis called “Get Serious About Spiritual Revival” that will begin in January 2016 and continue through Easter.

Yes, it’s time to get serious about experiencing spiritual revival by longing passionately for the Holy Spirit to do what we can never do on our own—draw each of us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, bind us together into a passionate movement of disciples making disciples and shower those around us with Jesus’ love.

So come, Holy Spirit, come. Bring the fire of spiritual revival. Allow us to be the living Body of Christ in our world that is hurting so deeply. And enable us to become vital congregations that truly make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller