The Hope of Deconstruction : James Choung
As ministry leaders, when our hopes have been dashed, or we find ourselves experiencing a personal crisis of faith, it can be very challenging to navigate through those times. Oftentimes we will turn to disillusionment, deconstruction, or even despair. In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by James Choung, Vice President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and author of Longing for Revival. Together, James and Jason explore how God actually invites us into these challenging spaces, and how we can position ourselves with a posture of invitation and expectancy, so we can experience personal revival and tremendous spiritual growth.
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Additional Resource Links
Longing for Revival: From Holy Discontent to Breakthrough Faith – James Choung and Ryan Pfeiffer unpack what revival looks like, how Christians can anticipate it, and how they can experience it in their own lives and in larger movements.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA – Campus ministry where James serves as vice president of strategy and innovation
Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just want to talk? Complimentary 1-hour Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- Pastors are being looked at to take care of other people, but who is taking care of them?
- Regardless of what you face in ministry, the promise we have from Genesis to Revelation is that God is with us
- No revival happens without revived leaders
- All revivals start small. Just like an earthquake, no matter how small or how big, revival is revival.
- Expectation says unless it shows up the way you are praying for it, then God is not with you. But expectancy says God can answer that prayer any way he desires, that you are open to God’s will because you trust God’s love and faithfulness.
- It is important for us to kill our own expectations about how we think God should work and instead raise our expectancy to allow God to work in whatever ways he desires
- When our dreams for life and ministry start to hit reality, we often fall into a crucified hope. And if it stays there long enough, it starts to move into a crisis of faith.
- There are different postures toward deconstruction, and the extremes are not helpful. Neither continuously deconstructing everything nor avoiding deconstruction altogether in a posture of protecting what you believe to be tried and true are healthy.
- There is a third way of deconstruction that avoids the extremes and allows you to deconstruct in a healthy way with hope. It involves inviting Jesus into the process and letting God deconstruct all that we are not supposed to hold on to as you trust that he is with you in it on the other side.
- We cannot approach God like a vending machine, dropping in our quarters and expecting what we choose
- Consecration is an important piece of our life with God
- Prayer, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines help us experience God in deeper ways but do not manipulate God to act in specific ways
- Starting with a small committed group for prayer in the local church can help develop a space for consecration. It should be genuinely invited and encouraged, but not forced. Trust God with the process.
- Hear from God, respond to what you hear, debrief with your community, and repeat.
- Remember, above all else, God loves you deeply
Questions for Reflection
- Are there times I feel like God may have forgotten me? Do I really know He is with me?
- How am I preparing myself for personal revival? What does this actually look like in my life?
- Am I looking for a big movement from God? Do I think God can start small or do I tend to be looking for something more dramatic? How does this impact how I prepare for revival?
- What is the difference between expectation and expectancy?
- Am I setting expectations for God to work in specific ways, or at least within specific boundaries, in my life and ministry? Perhaps these expectations are not spoken, or even conscious, but as I reflect on this, what do I see?
- How can I nurture a greater sense of expectancy?
- Am I comfortable with God working in whatever way he sees fit? Why or why not?
- What will it look like for me to crucify expectations and resurrect expectancy in my life and ministry?
- Have my dreams for life and ministry been stifled? If so, have I experienced a crucified hope? How have I processed this?
- Have my stifled dreams led to a crisis of faith? If so, have I been willing to admit that I am struggling? Have I had anyone that journeyed, or is journeying, with me through this?
- Am I more apt to continuously deconstruct everything -or- avoid deconstruction altogether and defensively circle the wagons?
- As I reflect on my spiritual journey, have I had seasons of deconstruction? What have those looked like? What did I experience?
- Have I invited Jesus into my deconstruction process? If not, am I willing to?
- When are some times I have treated God like a vending machine, believing if I do something specific that I will get something from him? How can I avoid slipping into this mindset?
- What does consecration look like in my life? In our church?
- How can prayer play a more significant role in my spiritual life? In the life of our church? How can this be developed and encouraged?
- How can we hear from God in community? How can we respond to God in community? How can we debrief our experiences in community? What would it take to develop this rhythm in our church?
- How do I need to let God love me?
As ministry leaders when our hopes have been dashed, or we find ourselves experiencing a personal crisis of faith, it can be very challenging to navigate through those times
Oftentimes we will turn to disillusionment, or deconstruction, or even despair. In this episode, I’m joined by James Choung, Vice President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and author of Longing for Revival. Together, James and I explore how God actually invites us into these challenging spaces, and how we can position ourselves with a posture of invitation and expectancy, that we might experience personal revival and tremendous spiritual growth. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another inspiring episode of FrontStage BackStage. I am your host, Jason Daye, and it is my distinct privilege that every single week, I get to sit down with a trusted ministry leader, and we tackle a topic all to help pastors just like you, ministry leaders like you, to embrace a healthy, sustainable rhythm for both life and ministry. And we know what it’s like in the challenges of ministry, the challenges of pastoring a local church, and we are here for you. In fact, our team at PastorServe, our team of coaches, we’d love to offer you a complimentary coaching session. And you can sign up for this, you can talk to a coach about positive things that are going on in your ministry… maybe you have some growing pains, some exciting things going on. Maybe there are some challenges, maybe there is some overwhelm or some burnout that you’re sensing, whatever it might be, you can go to PastorServe.org/freesession, and find out more details about speaking with one of our trusted, seasoned coaches. Now, we are proud to be a part of the PastorServe network and every single week, we don’t just put together a show like this, we also create an entire toolkit for you and for your ministry team at your local church so that you can dive more deeply into the topic that we discuss. And you can find that toolkit at PastorServe.org/network. There you’ll find all types of resources, including a growth guide that you and your team can go through. So we encourage you to take care of that, and check into that and use that as part as your staff development and your own ministry growth. And if you’re joining us on YouTube, please give us a like. So good to have you along with us. And take a moment below to drop your name, the name of your church, we love to get to know our audience better, and we love to be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you are joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, be sure to follow, be sure to subscribe. Be sure to share this with colleagues, with other friends in ministry, with your staff and your ministry leaders at your church. And if you’re finding value from the show, we would love for you to leave a positive review. So as I said, super excited for today’s show. I am joined today by James Choung. So James, welcome to the show.
Hey, thanks for having me.
Yes, yes. So good to have you, brother. And good to see you. I know that you are a little bit under the weather, but it looks like God’s got you in his hand. And you’re looking great, brother.
Thanks. Yeah, I came out on the other side.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good to hear. Now, James, many pastors and ministry leaders, they feel like God is up to something right now. You know, at this time in history, something’s going on. I’ve heard it described as a shift, as a reckoning. I’ve heard people talk about it as a new era, a fresh expression. But at the same time, so many ministry leaders share that they’re exhausted, right, they’re tired, they’re stretched thin. James, some are saying, I just don’t know if I have it in me to navigate through these times. James, I would love to hear how do you respond to sort of this tension between the recognition that the Spirit of God is on the move, but man, I just feel worn out, I feel depleted?
That’s a great question. And that’s, it’s not something that I’d want to approach just teaching or preaching through, right? Yeah, you’re hearing people and what people feel, it’s been a really… there’s been no time like this really, that we can think of, in our lifetimes, such a disruptive experience. And, you know, if people thought before the pandemic, that they would all become media moguls. You know, like, all of a sudden everyone had to produce video and get online and then try to figure out what does church mean and how do we do that during the pandemic? And there’s all these rules and laws and trying to figure that out. Then, now that it seems like we may be on the post end of at least the pandemic portion of this, you know, now trying to come back and a lot of folks, for some of the leaders out there, folks aren’t coming back the same way they thought they would, and others might be in that place. But it’s, I think we have to acknowledge, it’s been a, it’s been a tough time and a tough time for pastors who have had to navigate so many different transitions. It would, if you weren’t tired, right? That there’d be something about you that you should come on this on this, this podcast. What is going on? Because it has been a brutal time. So I think I’d really want to listen, I would hate to be one of Job’s friends to tell you to buck it up and you know, pull up pull yourself up by the bootstraps. That’s I don’t think that’s there. I think the thing? Yeah, and pastors are being looked at to take care of other people, but in some ways, who’s taking care of you? And there’s a, so that feels more like an Elijah moment after the big fireball that comes from heaven. And he’s sitting there and he’s just tired and what how does God meet us? And how does he serve us? So I think I want to ask, like, you know, we know that we know, we know that Jesus is with us. That’s the promise we have from Genesis to Revelation. We know he’s with us. And my question is, what do you sense God is saying to you, in this moment? And just trying to ask the question around, where are you with him? And so what’s he saying? I’d want to start there. Because I just think whatever God says, it’s going to be a lot, like so many infinite times more than than what I can offer in wisdom. And really, I think that would be… pay attention. What is God saying? How’s your soul? Kind of start at the beginning?
That’s good. That’s good, man. I appreciate that. Brother, it’s interesting, because in the time we find ourselves right now, there seem to be so many things that are that are shifting and moving. And, and as you said, lots of questions we are asking about what does church look like even today? And, even the pandemic aside, there are so many things, you know, in kind of the political arena, right? Racial tensions. I mean, there are so many kinds of social issues, and the Church is really kind of looking at how do we honor God in the midst of this? And what does what does that look like? And, and a lot of people are sensing that this really could be a time, or is a time, and in different places around the world, for revival. Right, that this idea of the Spirit of God is at work and moving is palpable in so many ways. And a lot of pastors and ministry leaders are seeking that, have been praying for that, have been talking about that, looking out for that. But even with the recognition that something’s afoot, right, like something’s happening, yeah, there’s that question of what do we even really do with that? Or how can we even really be prepared for that? So talk to us a little bit, James, about how do we work through this idea of, okay, I think something’s going on here. But what do I do? You know, how do I lean into this as a pastor as a ministry leader?
That’s a huge question, and it’s a great question. And on one hand, there’s a simple answer that’s great for the shallows, and then there’s other things around that. But if you long, if you’re in a place where you’ve got a sense that God is on the move, there’s a longing for that, I just think that that’s something to lean into. What’s neat, when so you know, having looked at some revivals throughout history, sort of in the book that we’ve written, there’s a bit of a… What’s neat is one, all revivals, put it this way, no revivals happened without revived leaders. Which is like, that’s almost like a duh. But like, unless there are leaders that are experiencing God in fullness, that doesn’t, there’s nothing to move on. There’s nothing to, there’s no strategy, there’s nothing that’s gonna make God move. You know, God’s always been on the move. We’re heading to a place where the Kingdom comes, and we’re in an unending revival. That’s where we’re all headed. However, in the meantime, as we’re in the in-between, the already and not yet, how do we position ourselves? But it’s good to know then one, no revival happens without revived leaders, so how do we prepare ourselves? And then, two, what’s great is there’s no, all revivals start small. I think people are hoping for a big event that rocks it out, but when you look back at any big event, there’s been small things that lead up to that. And depending on the revival, you’re looking at, like the Pentecostal movement with Azusa Street, it was William Seymour got kicked out of his pastorate actually, right. He shows up in California and he’s locked out of his pastorate, he’s locked out of the church after five days because of what he’s preaching, you know. So he has to go to what is now known as the Asbury House. He just has to fast and pray, right. And it’s just a handful of folks, right, and they’re praying. And then the Spirit falls on them. They tend to start small, or with the Methodists. And the revival that happen with Wesley, he’s strangely warmed at Aldersgate, and sort of spills over from there. He’s had moments where he’s hanging out the Moravians, and then he has his moment at Aldersgate. And then he gathers like a group, I believe it’s about 30 folks, when they’re praying together, and something happens from there where the Spirit meets them in prayer. It always starts small. So like, instead of looking for the big thing, I’d be asking leaders to go, in what ways are you asking for more of God? In what ways are you putting yourself in a place to receive whatever God might have for you? And to kill your expectations, what we say, and we quote, Danny Silk in this, how do you kill your expectations about how revival needs to look in your community, and then raise expectancy and say, God, have your way? So that that would be, it’s the old, it’s the oft quoted line from Gipsy Smith, a British evangelist, where he said that if you want based… I’m paraphrasing, but if you want to start a revival, when he was asked, How do you start revival, he said, to go into a closet, close the door and draw a chalk circle around yourself, and then ask God to start revival within that circle. And, and I think that’s, that’s what we do is that’s how we prepare is get ourselves in places where then what what some things ask the Lord, like, is he asking me to pray? Is he asking me to fast? Is there places where there’s a deeper connection, that I can put myself in a place to receive whatever grace God might want to give? But the starting point, I think, is with ourselves. And that’s, you know, that when you talk about revival that way, some people like wow, you know, we wantto define revival as these big mass movements. But that’s why we sort of say revival actually has to include both the stuff that happens in the heart and these bigger movements, and there’s gotta be a way that all of that matters, because those big things start small. So that’s what I would say, yeah, maybe the way to illustrate that, and I’ll just end with that is, you know, I live in I’m calling from LA, I live in Southern California. And if you live in this part of the world long enough, you’ll have lived through an earthquake. And they come, they’re there are many, you know, like, I remember my first earthquake, at Panera Bread, and I was in the restroom. And all of a sudden, everything starts, like I started feeling dizzy, and I thought it was me until I heard the screaming from the, from the dining hall. And, you know, that was my first experience. And if you’re here long enough, you have lots of different levels, like you can get lots of different kinds of earthquakes. Some hit hard, some roll, some shimmy. And, and the strength of those things are recorded on the Richter scale. Right? So like a 10.0 has the potential to level towns or villages, even small cities, but like a 1.0 might not wake you up from your sleep. But what’s neat about the Richter scale is that all of those, all of those different kinds of things, small or big, they’re all considered earthquakes. And then the same way, the stuff that happens in the heart as well as these bigger things. Those are all part of this revival thing, part of the revival Richter scale, and they all matter. And one doesn’t happen without the other. But how then, can we just own that and claim that as renewal, revival, a spirit being resuscitated or resurrected, even, and then allowing that to flow out? Because that’s really going to be the heartbeat of revival are people who are devoted, in love with Jesus, and God’s moving in them and that spilling over?
Yeah, I love that. I love that. It’s a great kind of illustration to to be thinking about that. So we’re not, you know, minimizing or necessarily maximizing he know a certain expression of revival. That’s right. But the necessity of revival in all those different layers. I think that’s super helpful, James in, especially when you’re thinking as pastors and ministry leaders, who we have, you know, this, you know, this expectation, oftentimes you say. You know, I mean this expectation of what revival might look like. But as you said, you know, we need to have more of an expectant heart for what the Spirit wants to do in us before the Spirit is going to be doing anything through us, necessarily. And we know as ministry leaders, things don’t always go as we plan or as we hope or as we expect, right. There’s no surprises there. That’s just the reality of ministry, the reality of life in general. But when you’re serving in ministry, and your hopes have been kind of crushed, right? And expectations haven’t been met you find yourself maybe in a deep struggle, a deep struggle with your faith. You’re kind of going through this. In ministry, you often don’t want to admit that or maybe accept that, right? Because you’re like, hey, a crisis of faith might be for someone else. But not necessarily for me because I’m a pastor, right? I’m a ministry leader. But James, you sort of lean into this a little bit as you share kind of this idea that experiencing what you call crucified hope and experiencing crisis of faith is actually often a part of our maturing process, that process that is helping prepare us, prepare our hearts, prepare our very lives for that personal revival. I’d love to spend a little time here, James, because in your book, you do touch on this idea of the crucified hope and the crisis of faith. So can you kind of share a little bit about that with us?
Yeah, absolutely. I think when we, if we don’t think about it, and we want revival, we might think like, it’s gonna be this thing that happens, and then it’s just perfect from that on right. Like, it’s, it’s a 20% year over year growth or whatever, right? It’s in our head about revival, it’s sort of it creates green lights, and then God’s on the move, and everything turns out well and perfect. But you know, a quick survey of the New Testament shows how quickly things tend to go south. Particularly, yeah, how quickly things can go south or don’t work out, or divisions show up or ways that that plays out, and reality sinks back in. So there’s we talked about this breakthrough curve, that when we were looking at revivals, and particularly the lives of some of the leaders that start that where it starts from, you quickly see that there’s this curve, a breakthrough curve of a place where you initially have a holy discontent about what is happening there. And that’s a great place to press into prayer and asking God what can happen and moves up, then you might get a vision of what could be and that gives you some untested faith. That’s what we’re calling that. But it is this thing that just gives you a sense of like, oh, wow, this could be and you know, that first flush of excitement that you have. And if you’re a seasoned leader the temptation is to sort of put water on the excitement of the younger folks who are like, Pastor, this thing could happen, this could be amazing, you’re like, well, that’s, that’s a great idea, young man, or that’s a great idea, sister, and you sort of let them know that you’ve been through the ropes a few times, and that that’s probably not gonna work out. But it’s right to be excited and sort of fanning the flame, the excitement there, because you want to be the person that is the leader that’s encouraging what God might be doing. But what happens eventually is that dream starts to hit reality. And that starts to fall into a crucified hope. And if it stays there long enough, it starts to move into a crisis of faith. And we just see that moving again and again. Why that’s, I think, critical and important is that, without that, we quickly become the center of the story. Right? It quickly becomes about us is. Those are times where we can feel pretty heady. I think I just read The Message version of the Sermon on the Mount where the line is, the verse says something along the lines of how we use God to make ourselves to feel important. This is the passage where he said, you know, some will come to me and say, Lord, Lord, we did all these things in your name, and he goes, you know, I don’t know you away from evildoers. And The Message translation has said it’s like, we use him to make ourselves feel important. There’s something about that, where if it gets like that, then we can sort of get full of ourselves. It’s like, it’s our strategy. It’s working. It’s our vision. It’s our charisma, it’s us. It’s our giftedness that’s making this occur. And usually, if the big, if like these true, mature revivals happen, there’s a place where that has to be pulled out of us and it needs to be crucified. That dream, that expectation you had of God needs to go away and die to make room for what God wants to do. And that often, then is that process to allow us to have a crucified hope, to allow us to go into a crisis of faith to decide like, is it going to really be God’s way? Or is it going to be my way? And if we get stuck in sort of my way that can lead us into a loop of despair, and people can stay there for a long time. Maybe not even come out of that until they’re willing to kill the expectations and raise expectancy. And that’s a key idea that we have is that, you know, expectations say, unless God shows up for me in this particular way, unless my church grows, unless like people are enamored with my teaching, then unless there’s something that’s happening in a particular way, then God is not good or he’s not with me. Right? What expect, expectancy says, It doesn’t matter how God God shows up, I trust in His character. And I will trust him, what he wants to do, right? Expectation says unless it shows up the way I’m praying for it, then God is not good. He’s not with me. Where expectancy says, God, you can answer that prayer any way you want. I’m open to your will, because I trust your love and goodness and beauty, that there’s a reason to hope that you’ll turn all things for the good of those who love you. But it doesn’t mean it has to happen my way. And until we get there, then I think we become the bottleneck to what God might want to do through us. Once that expectation gets crucified, and an expectancy gets resurrected, then you can find yourself coming back to a breakthrough what we call a it’s a, it’s a hope, it’s a not quite breakthrough faith. There’s a hope that’s there that’s more sober than the than the untested faith, right. But it’s one that comes up on the other side, and then leads to breakthrough faith where it’s this this because of all the stuff all your agenda, found its way to get killed, so that the thing that needs to come back to life, that’s, that’s critical. And you can look through history, there’s so many people that come to the end of their rope. And then God moves. And that’s, that’s so beautiful, right? Because there’s nothing about that you can manufacture. It’s, it’s not a place we want to go. It’s a very uncomfortable place. But it’s the place that if you come through with God and say, Okay, God, you have your way, then God can show you new things that you didn’t have the grid for. And then you you will find in those spaces, that like the verb amazed shows up in the book of Acts so many times. You don’t get amazed when things go according to plan. You might be like, yeah, thank you… there could be gratitude. But you get amazed when things happen way beyond what you your things happen so differently that you like, Okay, that wasn’t me, that was so God. And then the the ability to worship happens so much more naturally out of that. So that’s, that’s why we say you got to go through that spot to have to go through that crisis, you got to come through a crucified hope to get to something a bit more on firmer ground.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s so helpful, James. And kind of as we’re thinking through what a lot of it seems, again, pastors and ministry leaders are wrestling with right now, because of all the tensions because of all, you know, things feel somewhat chaotic. Right? And, and, you know, we’re in the process of redefining some things because things have shifted, and so we’re trying to figure out, okay, how do we best be the people of God in this time and in this place? How do we, how do we honor God best? How do we best live, you know, a gospel-centric life and proclaim the goodness of Christ? And so it seems like in a lot of the conversations I’m having with pastors, that, that some are going through this process, and as they’re allowing God to sort of distill some things, and strip away some things, there’s also some experiencing some disillusionment with what was, right? And so, James, how is this idea and one of the terms obviously, that’s talked about a lot right now is deconstructing and, and these types of things. So can you talk to us, James a little bit about how this disillusionment and even this process of deconstruction, how that might relate somewhat to this crucified hope and this crisis of faith? And, you know, just trying to find our way in the midst of that? Because as I was reading through that, that’s one of the things that kind of, you know, I started thinking through a lot of the conversations that are taking place, a lot of things that ministry leaders are struggling with right now. And in kind of, in a beautiful way, the potential of the outcome of that, right? I mean, very, very exciting that leading to that breakthrough faith, as you said. So talk to us a little bit about the disillusionment, the deconstruction, and how that kind of might interplay with this crucified hope and crisis of faith.
Yeah, I think they really go together, and it’s hard. It seems like almost every Christian leader sort of goes, will go through that to some degree if they’ve got something to offer on the other side. But I do know, when it comes to deconstruction, we all have like, different postures to that like, right, there’s some of us that are like, you know, that’s all we do. You know, like, they feel like that’s the Holy Grail. If you deconstruct then that’s worth doing forever. That’s my generation, Generation X, right? Let’s just deconstruct everything. And but the problem with that is it doesn’t leave a lot of hope on the other side. And then on the other flip side, there are people like, let’s not touch deconstruction at all, we got to hold on to the tried and true. And sort of, honestly, that’s more like, the problem with that is that it becomes like this fear based, circle the wagons, and you don’t allow yourself to kind of grow or to be open to what could be new, because you’re really so about protecting what we already have. And so I think what this idea, that sort of crucified hope and that circular loop of despair and sort of the crisis of faith, and potentially looping, what this framework allows us to do, then is to actually avoid either extreme. And to look for that third way of, yes, let’s let God deconstruct the stuff that we weren’t supposed to hold on to. And then trust that he’s with us in it on the other side, right. That’s the promise we have. We don’t have any other promises scripture that is so consistent, you know, there isn’t a promise of health or like the big bank account or the nice home, there’s no promise of that. Right? That fact, there’s more promises around suffering. But the thing we have is that Jesus, Emmanuel, God is with us. Right? So that gives us the grace then to go through that deconstruction, knowing that there’s something on the other side, that’s full of wonder and beauty and goodness, and although I can’t see it, you can imagine that that’s, that’s the trust, then that’s where the faith grows. Because now you’re like, I don’t see how this can play out. So then I can only trust what you’re doing. And that might mean for some people. Yeah, that might actually mean like, maybe the pastorate isn’t for me, maybe it might mean different things. I’m not trying to say it means 100% you have to stay where you are. But I, I what… But I do think there is something that is potentially healing, that on the other side. There’s something better, that there’s no resurrection without something being crucified. And unfortunately, I don’t you know, in American Christianity, it’s the crucifixion stuff. We don’t want the fellowship with the suffering, the power of the resurrection, yes! The fellowship with the suffering, not so much. Let’s just throw Philippians out, right, like, right. No we, those things go together, and we know it, and if we stay with it, and we trust that God is leading us in it, there’s something on the other side, and to trust that anything that dies in his name. Now, I’m not saying anything dies, if anything dies in his name, it will be resurrected. So that’s, that’s the trust. That’s the trust thing. There’s a writer, Flannery O’Connor, for those who know her, she has that, quote, she was writing a letter to a friend, and she says, “don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty.” And I just find that really helpful. You don’t know the map, you’re not given a map, right? You’re not given like, straight up this, this, where you’re going with your life, you’re given, as they say, a guide, with a capital G. Yeah. And he is with us. So that deconstruction is healthy, if we can embrace it, I know it can crush us too. And I’m not trying to trying to make it seem easier than it is. It’s hard. It feels like a wrecking ball to the faith, you know, having been gone through a few of those. It feels like a wrecking ball. You don’t know what to stand on. You don’t even know like, I don’t know what I’m grounded on to the point, you might even be thinking your head, I don’t really know what I believe. But you wouldn’t want to say that out loud, right? It’s there. And I think, rather than fighting that, because that’s, that’s the people who build the wagon circles or the walls. So instead of fighting that, invite Jesus into it. And I think you’ll find on the other side of that, usually, it’s something better than you even knew existed.
That’s awesome. I love that, it’s beautiful. James, thank you, thank you for sharing that. And just the the invitation piece I think is so key. Right? And that’s one of the things I think that oftentimes when we’re wrestling with a crisis of faith, or, or, you know, we have had those expectations or those hopes, crucified, and we’re going through that it’s that, you know, is that place, are we willing to invite Jesus to continue to be a part of what we’re wrestling through? Or do we begin to push Jesus away? Thinking that somehow we’re going to figure out a better way? And I think that’s key, that posture of the heart, right, that invitation. So I love that. One of the things that you write about, and that you share about is this idea of consecration right. And in the importance of consecration, especially when we’re thinking about this idea of what does it mean for us to experience revival in our own lives? And then how do we help maybe usher in, in a positive way, revival in the lives of others? You know, so talk to us, James a little bit about this idea of consecration, because that’s something that again, it’s one of those, one of those terms that sometimes we consecration, what, me? No, because we like, we’d like everything to be, you know, fun, sweet, happy. And, you know, like you said, the victory… enjoy the resurrection. But the consecration piece is such a critical element. And we see that historically, you know, if we just go back and look at all of these, you know, different revivals that have occurred across the world, you know, there’s that concentration piece. And so talk to us a little bit about, what does that concentration piece kind of really look like in our lives?
Yeah, and it could look different for a lot of different for different folks, depending on what the Lord is calling you to or leading you to. But yeah, it’s again, one of those things where there’s the extremes of people who are like, if you consecrate then the Lord will move, right? That’s more of like, a vending machine mentality that if I just put enough prayers into that machine, I’m gonna get my coke. And revival will come if we do these things, right. It’s what the Yeah, I would think it’s what the Pharisees had in mind, like, if we can stay pure enough, then the Messiah will come. Then there’s the flip side where it’s more fatalistic like, yeah, none of that stuff, really. It’s about being faithful. None of that stuff really matters. It’s all God doing his thing. And so we sort of take more of a hands off view. And again, there seems to be this place where it there are commands to consecrate yourself to the Lord, Leviticus, but it is I, the one who make you holy is the Lord saying that, and there’s a combination of what we can do to prepare, but it’s still the work of the Lord. And that’s, I think, a helpful way to think about that. I think Dallas Willard talks about grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning. Right. And that’s that so helpful. Yeah. So consecration doesn’t put another doesn’t push you further? Well, actually, I should watch how I say that. It doesn’t earn you any more salvation. Right? That for sure. But it can help you then prepare and become the kind of place where God could move more easily, right? That consecration is the idea of setting something apart and could you set either time or things apart for a purpose, for more holy purpose, and what can we do in our lives? And I think that there’s ways that that can happen personally, right? There’s the there’s the stuff we think about, like setting aside time for prayer or for ways for us to connect with God. But our, the emphasis these days have been more on the corporate settings than they are in community settings. And I’ve been really wrestling with that it’s been, again, it’s not like, if you do these things, these things will happen. But in my experience, or at least when I looked through university, I’m part of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and our tribe. And when we think about revivals that happen on campus, it’s like, almost everyone, I think there might be an exception, but almost every place where something broke out of the Lord, in a pretty major way, when we dug into it, we saw that there was a daily prayer meeting in the middle. And then you’re like, oh, what does that mean? There used to be a time in Intervarsity history where you could we wouldn’t even send you a staff or you couldn’t be a chapter unless you feel the street thing. You had a robust Bible study, you had evangelistic outreach rhythms, and you had a daily prayer meeting. And I just went, how did we lose that idea that we kept to things but we sort of lost this thing. And no wonder that the car feels like is running out of gas, right? That’s that was the vibe there. So I’ve been processing that idea around. And then when you look at Acts, so many things happen either at the nine, well at the nine o’clock hour you have Pentecost, which was the first hour of Jewish prayer daily prayer. You have the healing of the cripple, the man by the pool with John and Peter in Acts 3, which happens at 3pm. Right, which is the second hour of prayer. 3pm us also when Cornelius gets his vision, about sending someone to to Jaffa to get Peter. 3pm is also when Jesus gave up his life on the cross. But you sort of get these rhythms of like when the community gathered so at Pentecost, when they’re gathered in the upper room at 9am, at 3pm, at having these rhythms of prayer, allowed some sort of infrastructure quote, unquote, for God to move, that there was something about the gathering of the people, that not every time you gathered, some like heaven showed up and angels were singing, you know. Not every time but it seemed that that rhythm though, created space for that, and it seemed right that God would move in those times. We’ve been processing that stuff, or the way that when Jehoshaphat gathered the community when the armies were coming at him in 2 Chronicles 20, right, there’s a response. But there’s something about the gathering. So I’ve been sort of putting that idea out there in churches and campus ministries and other ways with what would it be to pray more regularly. It could be the Korean side of me, you know, our, our church is weird. My parents pray every day at their church in the morning, right? My parents in LA, you know, and having been a pastor in a church in Korea, you know, my joke at the time was, it’s a small midsize church in Korea. So it was about 20,000 people at that time, it had grown to like 75,000. But to see, like, 5000 people, so a quarter of the church, there in the morning, every, you know, was just an example of like, yeah, there’s something about the gathering of the community, to pray. And so in Intervarsity, we’ve been trying to do that national leadership has a quote, unquote, what we call a daily prayer meeting, and people can join in, maybe they can do it once a week, maybe they can do it twice a week, but at least it’s being offered. And we’re doing it on Zoom. So technology is starting to give us some places, and they have been really encouraging spaces to like, because we can get kind of in our head and get really strategic. Our joke at Intervaristy is we’re like nerdy, wordy, and a little bit dirty, that’s our joke. But it, you know, to pray together, it sounds so obvious. And it sounds almost old school, you know, but I just wonder, can we create spaces where our community is praying, whether online or in person, but to do that more frequently? And I think that’s part of that creating that space, that’s consecration because we are being spiritually formed by the devices in our pockets. Right, they are constantly notifying us or and they’re telling us of all the ways that where, although the Kingdom has come, Earth seems to be winning, right? Like there’s, there’s so much that’s going on, that’s just pinging us and trying to nudge us to act in certain ways. And we don’t have commensurate spiritual formation in the same way. And I just, I think we’re, we put ourselves at a loss if we don’t have spaces where we’re gathering and consecrating. And so I’m encouraged when I hear about a church in New York, where they, you know, they’re like, trying to do a daily prayer meeting, and they started with an hour every day, and they’ve increased it last, I heard to three hours a day in New York, right in the middle of the city. Those are the kinds of things that like, oh, maybe that’s where there’s a lot of… those could be very consecrating places. And, frankly, as we’re working with Gen Z, that generation, those are the spaces that they tend to be more attuned to because it helps them connect with God. So yeah, I’m getting old school. It’s like Jeremiah 6, it’s a, I have it on my desk, where it’s like, this is what the Lord says, stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is, and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls. The ancient paths, that’s such a strong thing to me these days. And for someone who likes to be innovative, I find myself getting super old school, like I’m the crabby old guy who’s like, but are we praying? But, can we pray together? Because just finding that, that that needs to be there and you know, the rest of that verse is and you will have none of it. You will have none of it. We’re not going to think our way or strategize our way to revival.
That’s good, James. That’s good. You know, it’s interesting, as you’re talking about the, you know, the prayer meeting, I think it’s important and the whole consecration piece is important, again, to think back to what you said earlier, as we’re talking the idea of expectation versus expectancy. Because, I mean, we can set up a prayer meeting, thinking, hey, this is going to be the great way! We’re going to set up the prayer meeting, and because we’re getting together and praying, that means God is going to show up and cool things are going to happen. And it’s like, we’re, again, back to that vending machine type thing. Okay, you know, we’re going to drop in our quarters and you know, do our prayer meeting. And then God’s gonna move, but it’s more a positional posture. Right? So it’s this idea that we are we are not using it as a means to an end. We’re using it as you know, a posture before God, opening ourselves up before him, right.
That’s really good. That’s really good, Jason. Right. It’s, it’s… A metaphor is, right, like you’re on a sailboat. And what prayer allows us to do is to lift the sail. Now we don’t control where the wind is. And in fact, you’re going to have to tack and drive in order to get that sail where it needs to go to catch the wind. But that’s what prayer allows us to do when we gather for prayer, we’re just raising the sail. And it’s a posture. And if God wants to blow, sure, and if not, right, then at least you’ve lifted the sail. And sort of the flip side of that is if you don’t lift the sail, you don’t catch the wind. Exactly. So how does that work out? But yeah, it is definitely a posture. And probably maybe on top of that to say, actually, there’s a couple of things. One thing is, I have a colleague that says, who loves praying, because you know, better a weird prayer meeting than a boring one. Which I love, I do agree with that. So some creativity in that space and some openness, maybe a place to explore different ways to pray could be great there. But the second piece of it Oh, it was right there. And it was good, I promise, I’m just kidding. Oh, yeah, with the prayer piece. Yeah, I don’t think then, the quick, the quickest way to kill it is then announce, you know, announce it to your church or your community, right, make a big marketing campaign around it, promise, all these things that will happen around it. And then when people show up, it doesn’t, right, doesn’t live up to ther marketing. So I would actually say if you’re thinking of starting it, like start with people who love praying, you know, find your intercessors there are people usually in a, even a smaller set of community of faith, there are people who like praying, that’s their gift. That;s their intercession, find them. Like I’m currently looking for a team of intercessors. I’m looking for like, though, I go to a church where there are a lot of elderly people. I’m just like asking the Lord who’s the intercessor. Can you show them to me, because I want to gather them? All right, I think that’s… Find those who are really want to do that, and start with the three or four, don’t announce it yet. Right. But let them begin to build the campfire, so to speak. They’re they’re the ones that are gathering and they start to get to put some of the coals there. They’re figuring things out, and then once it lights, then begin to go like, hey, you know, what God was saying these things at this meeting, or when we were praying this sort of happen, let them share it, and let it come around. It’s it’s so much less about the numbers, right, it’s more about the heart of the people that show, the posture again. So I would say start with the people that want to be there. Right. And you’ll be, I think you’ll be surprised, there’ll be a remnant of people that are like, I’ve been waiting for something like this, you know, and start with them, and then see where that goes.
That’s good. And this is so helpful. I mean, this whole conversation has been been incredible. James, I just want to give you an opportunity, kind of as we’re closing down. One, I want to encourage people to check out Longing for Revival, great book, that you, James, and Ryan together wrote… powerful stuff in there. And it talks through that, you know, you’re talking through that curve. Yeah, that breaking through, breaking U curve, and all that good stuff. So all that’s in there. So I want to encourage people to check that out. And we’ll have that at PastorServe.org/network, we’ll have links for you guys to find all that. But kind of as we’re closing down, James, I would love to give you the opportunity, you have the eyes and ears of pastors and ministry leaders right now. And I would love for you just to share what encouragement do you have, would you like to leave with them, you know, around this idea of revival and seeing revival come, you know, through the Church, the impact of that could have so so what what words you will leave with your brothers and sisters?
The impact that that could have? I think my encouragement, it’s been so hard. It has been a hard season. My encouragement is, so it’s a question. So I have an accountability partner, we ask seven, eight questions that we go through. And our last question is: How do you need to let God love you? Right because and that’s it’s sort of draws us up short, because you know, I’m, I’m like, seasoned ministry leader, I guess? 28 years on the front. He’s a retired colonel in the Air Force. So like, not a touchy feely guy, right, right. But you get there and it catches us up short, because we’re like, I think we have to remember at the core, right? Jesus loves us. God loves you. He did not call you into ministry to torture you. He did not call you into ministry so that you can be an example of how much flogging you can take for other people. So I’m not trying to sound self-helpy. I think it’s very important because Jesus says, you know, love one another as you love yourself. If you don’t know that God loves you, what You have to offer. So it sort of starts at that first love. What… do you know that you’re loved? And what would it take for you to remember that God loves you so much? And if, if it is, going back to the cross and resurrection, amen, if it’s a word from the Spirit you need right now. Right? Amen. But that will be the ground. And then from there to ask, Lord, what are you asking me to do? And I think if we stay there, if we just stay at, Lord, what are you asking me to do? And we respond, and then we continue to debrief all that in community. Just keep going there. Hear, respond, debrief. That’s… isn’t that what walking with Jesus is about? And I think by doing that, you know, beyond me, giving you a rah, rah, I would just hope you would hear something from God because one word from God is worth 1000s.
Amen. I love that, James. Love it, brother, thank you so much for making time to be with us. And again, for those who are watching along those who are listening long. We’re going to have links in the toolkit at PastorServe.org/network. So you can find, connect with James, find out and learn more about their book, Longing for Revival, and all those great things. And so, brother, it’s just been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for for spending time with our audience here on FrontStage BackStage.
It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
All right, God bless you, my friend.
Same to you.
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
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