- - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Last weekend in Orlando, Florida, 450 Christians — pastors and laymen alike — gathered for an event sponsored by the American Renewal Project, led by David Lane.

They ate meals, sang hymns and patriotic songs, and held times of prayer together. They prayed for each other, the churches they represent, their hometowns, the nation, and the world.

The chief common bond was their Christian faith. But also, they came together in order to gain information and inspiration for how to play a more active role in the public square. For many, that means they will be moving into campaign mode in order to try and win a seat on their local school board, city council or state legislative body.

Now, the news stories that are written about these events usually make “the angle” to be that “Right-wing Christians are hoppin’ mad about culture … and they’re trying to resurrect the Moral Majority.” Even the fairest reporting — like NPR’s Tom Gjelten — gives that impression. And to be fair, that does seem to be the “news” of the event — that evangelical Christians might play a greater factor in the next election cycle. That’s the story for the newspapers.

But for those in attendance, the main takeaway was Christian worship, not culture war. The heartbeat of the messages, combined with the fervency of the prayer, would rightly lead you to describe these meetings as a call for spiritual awakening — personal repentance and revival.

Yes, training sessions provided very specific information for how to organize and run a political campaign. But political machinery was not the object of hope for these Christians. They are praying for God to move among his people and stir them up for holiness and truth and zeal.

In the interest of showing another facet of these American Renewal Project events, I thought I’d share some short clips of Pastor Ken Graves, who spoke in Orlando. I first met Mr. Graves last year, and, to say the least, this man from Maine is a man you don’t forget. Yes, he does resemble the rugged masculinity of the “Most Interesting Man” of the Dos Equis beer commercials.

But instead of making a pitch for beer, Mr. Graves told the Christians in Orlando to get back to preaching through the “whole counsel of God” — expository preaching through the books.

(W. Scott Lamb is a consultant for the American Renewal Project.)

Mr. Graves went on to preach about the attributes of God, because knowing who God really is brings about spiritual renewal.

Finally, Mr. Graves ended by leading the room in then anthem, “Hail, Hail, Lion of Judah” — bringing down the house with song.

So, was political talk present in these meetings? Yes, of course.

But these are Christians who believe that true Christian spirituality will transform every area of their life. The kingdom of God is not equal to the kingdom of man, but Christians are called to inhabit and influence both during their pilgrimage here on earth. That was the message of the weekend in Orlando.

 

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