THREE NOTES ON ASBURY, PART THREE:
Short version, this is the real thing.
Pray for these folks.
Be slow to speak.
Be open to what God is doing in your context.
We made it to Wilmore, Kentucky on Friday, Feb 17th around 6pm and the revival had been in progress for about 10 days at that point.
They were starting at 10am and continuing until about 1am in the morning, with the room pretty much completely full the entire time. People would deliver short messages, surrounded by much prayer and worship. When we arrived, there were (guessing) 5000 people outside, waiting patiently to get in the room - with folks queueing in as others eventually left. Asbury volunteers were ushering folks in and out and were really sweet about it.
A couple of thoughts.
1 - It was really cold. Just below freezing to be precise and in a fit of shortsightedness we really weren't dressed for it. They had setup periodic propane heaters and volunteers from local churches and well wishers were handing out water and a variety of snacks. We waited for over three hours, slowly walking toward Hughes auditorium. You could hear the room singing well outside and it sounded heavenly.
Interesting that the cold did not seem to be stopping anyone. We talk so much about barriers to connection in church stuff - having no good answer to waiting 3 hours in freezing temperature would be a non-starter in almost any other context. This is how hungry people are for something real.
2 - The people in line were really fun. We met a pastor and worship leader from New York who recently divided the city of Manhattan into 21 sections and his church walked and prayed over the entire city over 21 days. We met a seminarian, actually from Asbury, who is looking to plant a church in Hong Kong. His vision is to mobilize and encourage and be as strategic as possible for the next decades in the Chinese church. We met folks from Ohio, a lovely young lady from Texas and many others.
I just want to say that the people we met weren't crazy, or the lunatic fringe. They were smart, funny and real and we had a great time on the way to the meeting. I was deeply encouraged before we even made it inside.
All of the people we saw clearly felt drawn to what was happening at Asbury, and we were in the same bucket. Curious, hopeful, encouraged, and simply acknowledging that God was up to something here - just look around.
3 - The utter lack of production was really interesting. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE production things that make our lives a little better. I've done music with no sound guy and pro sound guy and pro sound guy is way better. But in the room, the music was basically one instrument, a piano or a guy on guitar and maybe one or two vocals in support. No drums, no bass, no smoke and mirrors of any kind.
The music was lovely, but it wasn't slick or polished, or canned in any way. That was intentional, the whole ethos of the movement is to get back to what's real and what is primary. In that setting the Asbury kids found that you don't need the wall of sound full band thing to support a revival of simple truth and repentance. This does not diminish my sheer enjoyment of wall of sound - that will likely continue for me - but in this context it was fascinating for that to be one of the things that wasn't "need to have."
This is hard to express. It wasn't ANTI drums, or ANTI technical... it wasn't quite Jack White pitching guitar effects into the fire... but the heart of the movement, in some sense, is to clear away all of the extraneous and just give God your whole heart. So the "how" of what they were doing was simple, to further support the "what." It worked. The room was really engaged and worshipping deeply.
It was more take off your shoes on holy ground, and less big show with lights and fog.
4 - Everything said was really grounded and biblical. The knee jerk is to write this off as kids, with the hair and the music and the phases and the flash in the pan. But everything we experienced from the leaders there in terms of what was said was stuff that right on the orthodox button. It wasn't clever, it wasn't emotionalism, it wasn't manipulative, it wasn't gimicky. It wasn't manufactured through process or strategy.
It was just deep and real.
5 - This is a revival of repentance and relationships. God spoke to me clearly about things I could be doing better, specifically related to my family. And I will do my utmost to follow through. I didn't get "zapped" as much as I got some needed insight into how to bless my daughter and my wife.
And if you consider for a minute, that's the deep magic isn't it?
I wasn't alone in that, tons of the stories of God moving were about forgivness and reconciliation with real people - it seems to be a big part of what's going on.
So for my money, Asbury is real, take that with a grain of salt - because I am not nearly as smart or as discerning as I would like to think I am. The things we saw were extraordinary, the people we saw were beautiful and real and the impact will go futher than you think, in really good ways.
God bless these kids and our generation!
If you have questions, or want to hear more, I'm happy to talk about it! Ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll look forward to connecting with you!
At The Surge we love doing things together... that includes writing a blog! Here are a few of our main contributing authors:
Our fearless leader, Dwaine is the lead pastor at The Surge. His experience in counter terrorism with the CIA prepared him for ministry and he likes dogs and babies even more than E does.
E (short for Eric Reiss) is the Wingman at The Surge and likes dogs, music, Mexican food, his wife Karen and his little girl Evangeline... not necessarily in that order.