Ralph Sutera was a young leader when the revival in Saskatchewan broke out in the early 1970’s. Since then he’s had a ministry of bringing the revival to churches and regions. I first ran into Ralph when I was a 20 year old student at Briercrest Bible College and found him a little quirky – he and his twin were quite full of joy! Since that time I have grown to see the wisdom of his words both in my personal life but also in the life of the church.
This article explains that the revival we long for comes from working backwards to the way we’d like it to work. Revival starts with me and ends with others receiving salvation. In other words, evangelism is not meant to be work, it’s meant to be the overflow of a life ruined by Jesus. Here’s how Ralph puts it.
Objectives of a Revival Ministry
by Ralph Sutera
“to the inner life of the local church”
I. OPERATION CLEANSING: “INWARD” direction of revival
This is the time of heart-searching and brokenness before God as people deal with sin and self-centeredness to be filled with the fullness of God.
II. OPERATION RESTORATION AND FELLOWSHIP: “SIDEWARD” direction of revival
True cleansing (INWARD) is the essential preparation for believers to make things right with each other and have a new sense of maintaining unity in the body of Christ. This harmony alone can produce spiritual fellowship around the living Christ. Any fellowship ministry implemented mechanically without true brokenness, cleansing and restoration is most likely to create other problems. Carnal believers incapable of spiritual fellowship are still prone to gossip, ego-gratification, parading materialistic excellence, and seeking people’s approval.
III. OPERATION INTERCESSION: “UPWARD” direction of revival
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66.18 This is the problem of unanswered prayer of pastors and people seeking God for revival for years, as well as the reason so many DO NOT attend prayer meetings in the average church. They know they are on on “praying ground” because of sin, resentments, etc. Why should they come to prayer meeting when they know God will not answer their prayers? Though never whispered to a soul, consciously or unconsciously they tell them selves that “prayer meetings are a waste of time”. Other reasons given for not being involved are mere excuses and cover-up for the real reason.
Do we believe we can ask God to do more in one moment of his working from Heaven than we can do in years of faithful efforts? IF SO, why do we not five priority to continuous intercession for revival? The answer is simple, MANY professing Christians are not on “praying ground” with God. ONLY believers in right relationship to God and to each other, as suggested in INWARD (I) and SIDEWARD (II) are qualified to genuinely intercede for revival.
IV. OPERATION FOLLOW-THROUGH: “ONWARD” direction of revival
Genuine concern for others as “weak” brothers and sisters and a desire for “spiritual foot washing” one with another can only proceed from lives filled with divine love. Such a ministry will not succeed without the divine motivation of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in a believer’s life. Otherwise man is too self-centred and will “drop-out” at the first occasion of something to disliking.
V. OPERATION OUTREACH: “OUTWARD” (or OUTGROWTH) of revival
Many who meet God NEVER TURN OUTWARD toward the lost. Such a disposition will inevitably lead to a worse form of self-centredness than previously known. However, attempts at church outreach programs will fail if humanly motivating carnal believers who are not right with God or with each other. Only daily cleansing and fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life can cause him to have the”mind of Christ” regarding the unconverted.
THE REAL PROBLEM: “WE GO AT IT ALL BACKWARDS”
The average church is primarily interested in POINT V (OUTREACH). Both pastors and people are obsessed about outreach FIRST. When attempts to motivate people fail, the POINT IV (FOLLOW-THROUGH) is considered to strengthen some of the “weak” or “fringe” people in the church. If there is not the spiritual motivation for outreach, what will produce a desire to minister to others in the church: When it becomes evident that there is no motivating carnal self-centred Christians to do this, the POINT III (INTERCESSION) is emphasized as the need. “How do we expect God to bless this church if so few come to prayer meeting?” is heard. When it remains this way because so many are NOT on”praying ground,” the POINT II (FELLOWSHIP) is suggested as the real need. “We need to know each other better and have closer fellowship.” AFter some futile attempts, it becomes apparent that true spiritual fellowship is not possible among people who do not genuinely love and walk with God.
The last thing, most Christians, are willing to admit is that they and the church need POINT I (CLEANSING). Isn’t it strange that we are unwilling to admit and will seek last what God places first. We strive for FIRST what God clearly says in his order is LAST in our witness and outreach to the world?
THE KEY TRUTH
Genuine revival must be the experience of the church before spiritual fellowship, heart-stirring intercession, meaningful burden-bearing and ministering to one another, as well as soul winning and evangelism become the continuing expression of the church corporately.
AN IMPORTANT WORD
I believe any group of believers can see a genuine moving of God in their midst if they are committed to following God’s order. Concentrate on CLEANSING until it happens. When it does, begin to concentrate on RESTORATION AND FELLOWSHIP as the next step, etc. This does not mean that every church function or sermon deals with the same subject. Nor does it mean to do away with all the programs of the church. It does mean that the main thrust of every area of church life should make this its aim. It also means not to anticipate other ministries of the church to produce much spirituality on a church level until believers are right with God and with each other. Though some souls may be saved and certain believers have personal victoria, I do not believe it will be consistent on a church level until God’s priorities become ours. Until then, we will “spin our wheels” searching out new programs in an effort to “succeed” in our own way.