I am spresently speaking to the Anglican Mission and Ministry Conference, April 25-27, in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, held on the campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Church planters, pastors, lay leaders and seminarians are spending three days together for fellowship, teaching and corporate prayer. This evening I began a series of three messages on Acts 3:19-21 regarding "times of refreshing sent from the Lord." What are these seasons, these special times given by God throughout redemptive history to spread the fame and glory of Christ to the nations? They have been called revivals, awakenings or renewals. It matters not what you call them but I do like the term "seasons of refreshing" since this expression best describes the work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. (Read all of Acts 3. By the way, this ministry of ACT 3 is sometimes called Acts 3 and this mistake is a happy one to me in light of this text and how important it has been to my ministry over the course of thirty-five plus years.)
These "seasons" are much needed today in the face of an impotent North American Church that knows little or nothing about either holiness of suffering, which generally go together. We have lots of power displays, lots of mega-churches, and lots of sharp programs but little or no evidence of these "seasons."
The Anglicans understand this better than most precisely because they are deeply and personally related to the Church in the global South. They have tasted of the goodness of the Spirit’s outpoured grace in ways that bring me encouragement. Born in adversity this little group of churches is growing primarily by stressing church planting and missional Christianity more than by their obvious opposition to the very liberal Episcopal Church USA. The Anglican Mission shows promise of actually responding to the energy and work of the Spirit with a fresh openness that is far too uncommon in the U.S. There is a recognition among these dear folk of the need for both Word and Spirit.
I shared dinner this evening with missionary bishop Thad Barnum, who also pastors a new church in Fairfield, Connecticut. I was inspired by his sense of God’s call upon himself and the work of the Anglican Mission. His is a biblically based ministry of compassion and evangelism rooted in biblical exposition and biblical orthodoxy. This is why I am always thrilled to share in such settings. Pray for these folks as I speak to them during these days.