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How a Region Experiences a Spiritual Awakening


When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in the New Testament, he never addressed single congregations, but the Church of an entire region. Thus, 1 Corinthians circulated all of the house churches in the region of Corinth, as they all saw themselves belonging to the One Church together. I have the joy of belonging to the Church of Tampa Bay in sunny Florida, where I walk in deep relationship with over 50 pastors whose congregations have begun linking arms, asking God to transform our city.


Presently, we are rallying around a word heard from multiple leaders that God desires to bring 1 million souls in Tampa to surrender, know, and follow Him in 2024. For context, the entire Tampa Bay Area boasts a population of just over 3 million people. 1 million souls will mark an undeniable spiritual awakening, impossible to accomplish by good marketing or charismatic leadership. It will only be done by a move of God amidst a united Bride who stands fully surrendered for ‘Kingdom Come.’


How do we prepare and position our hearts for an Awakening?


As just one voice in the "great cloud of witnesses" in my city, I humbly offer the following as places we’ve been walking, with a burning heart for God to take us deeper. I pray you’d let it spark something in you for the beloved city you call home and the many sons and daughters who are groaning to experience “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”


PRAY:


Pray continually. Do you know that loud emergency alert that triggers on our phones when a child goes missing? It is an urgent call for all of us to stop what we’re doing and look up. When a child is lost, the whole community moves. They run middle-of-the-night search missions, going far and wide to do whatever it takes to bring their beloved kid home. This is the heart of our Father for His global kids. We cannot afford to treat evangelism as an a la carte elective for a select few anymore. We have to ask the Father to mark us with HIS heart for the last, the lost, the least, the lonely, and the lepers of our city, until we see every person we encounter as a target for the love of God. In Tampa, we’ve taken a first step to pray continually by setting our phone alarms two times every day across the region: at 8:13 every morning and 8:13 every evening; the area code for our city. As the alarm sounds, we stop, we look up, and we ask God together to bring His kids home.


Pray vulnerably. There is an undeniable link between humility and heaven drawing near. When we stand willing to admit our weaknesses to God and each other, no longer trying to be superheroes, we illumine the TRUE hero of the Story. We don’t pray like the Pharisee looking down upon the ‘sinner,’ but with contrite and humble hearts, asking the Father to pour mercy upon us all.


Pray obediently. Jesus invites us to reject the ‘vain repetitions’ of lofty language that sound spiritual, but are nothing more than a hollow facade. In truth, we have not lifted a “Jesus prayer” until it transforms folded hands into following feet. We pray with the heart of Isaiah, saying, “Here Am I. Send Me,” and with the readied obedience of the disciples to leave our nets and follow.


There will never be a true awakening that isn’t first bathed in passionate prayer and in complete surrender.


Our church is spending time in a corporate fast. Additionally, we set continual rhythms to dedicate whole days in prayer and worship, asking God to move. My friends at the amazing houses of worship in our region offer Prayer Burns, Fire Nights, deep intercessory worship, and restoration ministries that look to the Father and bring healing to many.


Join what inspires you. Offer what God tells you. Just start.


GO:


If we will pray, God will speak. When He does, we must be ready to go with Him, into all the world. Here’s a few first steps.


Build diverse, meaningful relationships beyond your own ‘walls’. Jesus said all people would know we are His disciples by how we love the other followers of Jesus in our city and beyond. The time has come for us to step beyond the narrow borders and high walls that all too often accompany our independent consumerism and our group denominationalism.


Simply put, we must be people who courageously and continuously choose committed community. Stop and read that again. We NEED each other. If you’ve burned out on the church because you’ve been hurt, I urge you to find your way back home. If you love ‘your’ church and believe you’re the best thing going in your city, I urge you to repent for the pride of that sentiment and to do whatever it takes to link arms with the other glorious parts of the Body that meet in different houses of worship across your city and offer something you lack.


We MUST make the name of Jesus bigger than our preferred brands of seeking Him, and do whatever it takes to prefer the banner of HIS Church over ‘my’ church.


Adopt a Lifestyle Missionary Mindset. When a missionary goes to a new region, intentionality surrounds every decision. Where they live, their vocation, where they shop, and how they order their days are all bathed in prayer to do what best helps them build authentic relationships and see the Gospel multiplied. They do this because they understand that the mission is why they’re there! Can I submit to you that we are nothing more than lifestyle missionaries in the cities we call home? What could happen this year if you employed the same level of intentionality as a missionary to your hometown?


Repent and Forgive. One final note. Holiness stands at the forefront of every sustained awakening. Jesus brought all of Christianity to the simple command to “Love God with all” and to “Love our literal neighbors as if they were our literal selves.” The health of our relationships with God and those made in His image are everything. In the early church, when God started to move, a spirit of great repentance fell upon the people, so that they literally burned every idol that competed with God’s heart. “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20).


What would a radical and abandoned commitment to Jesus look like for you in 2024? What needs to go?


What relationships need to heal?


What bitterness needs to be taken to the bonfire of your city and surrendered as a pleasing aroma to the Lord?


The time is ripe for personal revival and for many wildfires of regional spiritual awakenings. I believe we are going to see things in my city this year beyond our capacity to ask or even imagine, and I’m asking God for the same in yours. The night is nearly over. The dawn is coming. Awaken us, King Jesus!

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