OK, the title is a bit facetious, but only a bit. If God has shown us anything over the last three years, it is that the bar for His blessing is a lot lower than we tend to think. As John the Baptist might have said, God can raise up children to Abraham from the Rolling Stones, or something like that. And what I mean is that when the world went crazy and our tyrants began tyrannizing, the only thing you had to do to win was be open. Have church, don’t mandate masks or vaccines, sing to the Lord, declare His word with authority, and celebrate the sacraments (in person) and face to face. The churches that did this have grown, and in some places they have simply exploded. Some ministers were arrested; some were fined. But everywhere there has been fruit.
One of the repeated lessons of the Bible is that God is not bound by our fearful imaginations, tiny resources, and narrow minds. God led Israel out of Egypt on the dry ground of a massive riverbed. He is not bound. God led Gideon to rout the Midianites with 300 men. God is not bound. God raised Jesus from the dead. All we need is God’s blessing. All we need is God’s smile. We desperately need Reformation and Revival in this land and throughout the West, but this is not difficult for God to give at all. And I believe that when God gives us Reformation, it will mostly consist of a bunch of people doing relatively ordinary things with God’s extraordinary blessing upon them. So this is not rocket science. This is not some kind of deep, esoteric masterplan. This is just simple obedience in faith. But if someone were starting from scratch, and they wanted to know what I think are the top four things they should do in order to work for Reformation and Revival, this is what I would say:
Establish worship on the Lord’s Day. This presupposes a place, a city, and if I had the option, I would want to give this some thought, applying Jim Wilson’s Principles of War for evangelism, trying to target a decisive point, a place that is both strategic and feasible to take for Christ. But regardless, whether I was called to New York City or Nowhere Middle America, I would start with Lord’s Day worship. When God promised Abraham the land of Canaan, Abraham began traveling through the land building altars and worshiping God. So when I say “establish worship on the Lord’s Day,” I don’t merely mean “have church.” I mean worship like you believe that your city belongs to Jesus Christ. Worship with the faith of Abraham believing the promises of God, which now include the work and commission of Christ – that because of His death and resurrection all the nations belong to Him and they are commanded to submit to Him, and they will most certainly come. Start worshipping like that. Preach, pray, sing, and celebrate the sacraments like that, with exuberant, expectant faith. And establish the infrastructure for that kind of worship to continue in a healthy way over generations: a pastor, elders, deacons, fellowship meals, church membership, constitution, confession of faith, etc.
Start a School
Start a classical Christian school. Depending on your circumstances, the best you can do may be some kind of coop or hybrid between tutors and families. Circumstances may include heavily regulated government bureaucracy, limited resources, no space, etc. But next to Lord’s Day worship, teaching disciples to obey Jesus in everything is the next most important thing we do, and parents (and fathers in particular) are commanded to teach their children all day long, every day about how everything relates to Christ, how the whole Bible applies to all of life. Children are the heritage of the Lord, and they are arrows and weapons in the hands of warriors. Therefore, the training and teaching and thorough enculturation of children in the knowledge and love the Lord is essential. All things being equal, faithful homeschooling is like guerilla warfare, training insurgents by ones and twos and unleashing them on the enemies of God, but faithful, rigorous classical Christian schools are like boot camps for training armies, platoons, whole brigades of soldiers. The principle of concentration is one of the principles of war, and faithful classical Christian schools concentrate force at the very point that the Bible teaches God gives us strength: our children. Arguably, the single greatest weapon of our enemies over the last hundred years has been secular, government education. By the same token, faithful Christian education is potent for tearing down the strongholds of unbelief.
Make music, musical training, and singing central priorities. This might seem like a strange one. Or maybe you think we already covered this in point one above about worship. And obviously there is some overlap. But this is worth drilling down on. What I mean here is something that includes Lord’s Day worship but is something broader and deeper. It begins with a community-wide commitment to singing the Psalms. And don’t just sing snippets or snatches. Sing all 150 Psalms. The Protestant Reformation was marked by an explosion of music that began in the churches, returning song to the people of God. But Bach and Mozart and Handel were also some of the fruits as well as folk music in the streets and community festivals. The Psalms are central to cultivating a particular kind of people, a hearty people with godly spines, men and women of courage and vigor, and the Bible specifically says that this is how the Word of God dwells inside of us richly or with great potence. If we need a return to the Word (and we do), then singing the Word drives it into our hearts and minds. But the broader point is that a singing people is a joyful people, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. And if you’re not careful, you might break out in song in the streets, around your dinner table, or after football games. The sacrifices needed to have your children learn to sing and play instruments is worth it. As my friend David Erb likes to say, we don’t know everything we will do in Heaven, but we know we will sing and make music for the King. If we are praying and working for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done “on earth as it is in Heaven,” this is one way we can do that. Music is culturally potent either for good or for ill, as we have seen in our land, from MTV to Oliver Anthony. Music is cultural momentum. It is the harmony and rhythm by which we live and make and build churches, families, and nations.
Stay in Fellowship
The wrong kind of fellowship built the Tower of Babel, which just goes to show you what is possible on the hamster wheel of human hubris. But John wrote His first letter in order to share the fellowship that he and the other apostles had found together in the Father through His Son Jesus Christ, and by the work of His Spirit. But too often this fellowship-unity is described in overly vague and pious platitudes. “Everyone just needs to focus on unity and preserving peace,” and that tends to mean a lowest common denominator ecumenism, with the flavor of one of those sparkling waters with a hint of a whiff of some herb you’ve never heard of. Let’s call that LaCroix Fellowship or maybe the fellowship of deracinated prunes. It’s the kind of fellowship that makes everyone have a hunted expression on their faces, constantly afraid of doing something to upset or offend. But real, Christian fellowship centers on the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. 1 John says that our fellowship with the Father and His Son is the fullness of joy and the fullness of light because there is no darkness in Him at all. Christian fellowship is simple, glad, and carefree. People whistle casually and notice funny cloud formations, interesting bugs on the sidewalk, and spontaneously burst out in laughter at the gifts of God. John goes on to say that we have that kind of fellowship as we walk in the light as He is in the light, with His blood cleansing us from all sin. God’s light is the fullness of life. God’s light is the fullness of joy because there’s no sin, no darkness, no shadows, no sorrow in Him at all. So how does that blood get applied to us? How can sinners walk in that kind of light, given all our sin? John tells us: if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9). So this is how you stay in the light, stay in fellowship, stay in the joy of the Lord: you confess your sins and forgive one another every day. No grudges, no angst, no bitterness, no resentment – not in your family, not in your business, not in the church, not on the elder board. Fellowship in Christ is the rich soil of Christian productivity. We can work together because we refuse to let sin go unaddressed. We can work hard and creatively because we have clean consciences, and there is therefore now no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus. We have a joy that cannot be taken away. So we work, we build, we sing, we marry, we worship, and we feast because we are walking in the light and have fellowship with God and another.