I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all.
I read the online edition and was blown away by the response of the Solomon Islanders to the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing, or should I say God-planned. Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work, but also writing a book about it all. It’s as if it has all happened in a world apart, but the events in Brisbane show that it could happen in Australia also. ~ Barbara Vickridge (Perth, Australia)
Geoff Waugh’s life and ministry have influenced people all around the world. The story of his life and ministry will be of interest not only to those who know him – you will find yourself reflecting on your own journey with Jesus. Here is a personal journey with reflections that will enrich the lives of all readers. As he `looked to Jesus’ along the way he was opened up to many exciting new ventures in Australia and into countries where revival and renewal is vibrant, changing many lives. Although a biography, many others are involved. His reflections fit naturally, showing how his personal journey has relevance for others. (John Olley)
I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all.
I read the online edition and was blown away by the response of the Solomon Islanders to the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing, or should I say God-planned. Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work, but also writing a book about it all. It’s as if it has all happened in a world apart, but the events in Brisbane show that it could happen in Australia also. (Barbara Vickridge)
Book 1: Journey into Renewal and Revival
Introduction:Waugh stories – an overview
1. Beginnings: state of origin – growing up in NSW, Australia
2. Schools: green board jungle – learning and teaching
3. Ministry: to lead is to serve – theological college and pastorates
4. Mission: trails and trials – pioneering teaching in Papua New Guinea
5. Family: Waughs and rumours of Waughs – Family life in PNG and Australia
6. Search and Research: begin with A B C – exploring Israel and studies
7. Renewal: begin with doh rey me – charismatic renewal in Australia
8. Revival: begin with 1 2 3 – teaching revival leaders in many countries
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
For information about current courses, contact the Principal,
Welcome to this Study Guide on Renewal Theology 2.
This unit builds on Renewal Theology I. It develops the study of Christology, Anthropology, Pneumatology, and Soteriology. The simple words for these terms are: Christ, Humanity, Holy Spirit, and Salvation. The notes attempt to interpret these major themes from the perspectives of a Pentecostal-Charismatic hermeneutic.
As with Renewal Theology 1 the objectives are strongly linked with the notion that the learning of Theology comes out of ministry and practice. Therefore, the student must be constantly aware of the need to raise the question: What does this point or principle or insight mean for life and ministry today?
The topics have been prepared with a view to applications in Pastoral Ministry, Teaching, Mission and Evangelism situations.
Again, the student should be mindful that the material is not primarily intended for academic learning. However, mental exercise (one of our God-given functions) must become a willing servant under the tutoring of the Holy Spirit, so that the learning and the practising of Theology become a renewing experience.
The topics are grouped into four modules.
Module 1: Christology
Beginning with the idea of Divine Revelation and the need to have a transforming of interpreting the Scriptures we focus on the person of Christ. Christ is seen as both God and Perfect Man. The one person and two natures. We consider His Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection and Exaltation. Finally, we explore the truth of His rule and authority.
Revelation and Navigation. A Transforming Hermeneutic
Christ: God and Perfect Man. Two Natures. One Person
We now look at the theme of humanity, its creation, fall, and recreation. We consider the notions of being complete in Christ by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. We also discuss the problem of sin co-existing with righteousness.
A Biblical Anthropology: Humanity
The Human Fall: Consequences.
The New Humanity: Grace and Spirit-Filled
Module 3: Pneumatology
These topics look at Holy Spirit as Person both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We then consider the Holy Spirit as gift to all believers and then the baptism with the Spirit with fruit and gifts. The module concludes with a focus on the activity of the Holy Spirit in the world as distinct but not separate from His activity in the church.
Holy Spirit as Person
Holy Spirit: Fruit and Gifts
Holy Spirit and the World
Module 4: Soteriology
You will study the origins of evil and sin, and against this background learn the meaning of the New Covenant. Central to it all is the importance of Christ’s atonement out of which we define and describe what salvation really means.
Soteriology: Evil and Sin
Being Competent In Doing Theology
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares from his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses and home or church groups.
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
For information about current courses, contact the Principal,
Welcome to this Study Guide on Renewal Theology 1.
This study examines the characteristics and methods of theology from a renewal perspective including its integrative and comprehensive approach to the whole of Scripture, the relationship of the Old and New Testaments, the study of the doctrine of God, the centrality of the themes of covenant and the kingdom of God, and their application to contemporary ministry and mission.
Theology provides a systematic study of biblical teaching in historical and contemporary forms. It is the intellectual process whereby all other theological and ministry studies are related to biblical studies. This introductory study of Theology is a systematic approach to themes and teaching of the Bible placed in historical and contemporary terms with a view to practical application in ministry.
This introductory study has the dual aim to teach methods and presuppositions of the study of theology including its hermeneutic, and to apply these methods to fundamental theological issues such as the study of God and revelation, including the seminal themes of the Kingdom of God, covenant and mission.
This study relates directly to all biblical studies, drawing on them for the formulation of theological concepts. It also undergirds all ministry and mission, providing a reference point for the development of applied theology in the practice of ministry.
Module 1: Theology and Biblical Hermeneutics
What is Theology? Why Theology?
How to Begin – Prolegomena (I)
How to Begin – Prolegomena (II)
Methods in Theology.
Module 2: Revelation and the Knowledge of God
God’s Existence and Being
The Trinity and Nature of God
Creation and Providence
Module 3: The Centrality of Christ
The Person of Christ
The Problem of Evil
The Kingdom of God
The Concept of Covenant
Module 4: Theology of Mission and Ministry
Mission : “The Mother of Theology”
Contemporary Theologies : Western and Non-Western
Doing Theology : Its Application
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares from his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education, or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses and home or church groups.
A lot of key passages and exciting developments get lost in the details of this book so I have highlighted passages in this book which bring some of those key revival passages together.
From Chapter 5 – Australia: Elcho Island (1994)
In that same evening the word just spread like the flames of fire and reached the whole community in Galiwin’ku. Gelung and I couldn’t sleep at all that night because people were just coming for the ministry, bringing the sick to be prayed for, for healing. Others came to bring their problems. Even a husband and wife came to bring their marriage problem, so the Lord touched them and healed their marriage.
Next morning the Galiwin’ku Community once again became the new community. The love of Jesus was being shared and many expressions of forgiveness were taking place in the families and in the tribes. Wherever I went I could hear people singing and humming Christian choruses and hymns! Before then I would have expected to hear only fighting and swearing and many other troublesome things that would hurt your feelings and make you feel sad.
Many unplanned and unexpected things happened every time we went from camp to camp to meet with the people. The fellowship was held every night and more and more people gave their lives to Christ, and it went on and on until sometimes the fellowship meeting would end around about midnight. There was more singing, testimony, and ministry going on. People did not feel tired in the morning, but still went to work.
From Chapter 9 – Philippines (1995)
During the class seminars, my students reported on various signs and wonders that they had experienced in their churches. Many of them expected God to do the same things now as he did in the New Testament, but not all! “We don’t seem to have miracles in our church,” said one student, a part-time Baptist pastor and police inspector. “You could interview a pastor from a church that does,” I suggested.
So he interviewed a Pentecostal pastor about miraculous answers to prayer in their church. That student reported to the class how the Pentecostal church sent a team of young people to the local mental hospital for monthly meetings where they sang and witnessed and prayed for people. Over 40 patients attended their first meeting there, and they prayed for 26 personally, laying hands on them. A month later, when they returned for their next meeting, all those 26 patients had been discharged and sent home.
From Chapter 9 – Ghana (1995)
When we arrived in the mountain town of Suhum, it was dark. The torrential rain had cut off the electricity supply. The rain eased off a bit, so we gathered in the market square and prayed to God to guide us and to take over. Soon the rain ceased. The electricity came on. The host team began excitedly shouting that it was a miracle. “We will talk about this for years” they exclaimed with gleaming eyes. We had clear days all that week, although it was in the monsoon.
My interpreter that night didn’t know a lot of English. I think he preached his own sermon based on some phrases of mine he understood or guessed, and apparently he did well. When we invited people to respond and give their lives to Christ, they came from the surrounding darkness into the light. Some wandered over from the pub, smelling of beer. They kept the ministry team busy praying and arranging follow up with the local churches.
At that point I left the work to the locals who understood one another. I just moved around laying hands on people’s heads and praying for them, as did many others. People reported various touches of God in their lives. Some were healed. Later in the week an elderly man excitedly told how he had come to the meeting almost blind but now he could see.
Each day we held morning worship and teaching sessions for Christians in a church, hot under an iron roof on those clear, tropical sunny days. During the second morning I vividly ‘saw’ golden light fill the church and swallow up or remove blackness. At that point the African Christians became very noisy, vigorously celebrating and shouting praises to God. A fresh anointing seemed to fall on them just then.
From Chapter 9 – Toronto, Canada (1995)
Over 100,000 a year flocked there from all over the world for well over a decade. The wide diversity of people from different denominations and countries there impressed me. Love and respect for others filled the atmosphere and testimonies. We joined the crowds of over 1500 each morning and night, enjoyed the low-key sensitive worship (knowing very few of their songs), appreciated the balanced teaching, and received personal prayer.
Both of us appreciated the gracious, caring way people prayed for us, and others. No rush. No hype. No pressure. Whether we stood, or sat in a chair, or rested on the carpeted floor, those praying for us did so quietly with prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit. Those praying laid a hand on us gently, as led, and trusted the Lord to touch us. He did. Warmth and love permeated us. We returned to our hotel after the meetings aware of increased peace and deeper assurance of the Lord’s love and grace.
After returning to Brisbane I noticed that people I prayed for received strong touches from the Lord, most resting in the Spirit on the floor. We needed people to be ready to catch those who fell, to avoid them getting hurt (then needing extra healing prayer!). Some of them had visions of the Lord blessing them and others.
From Chapter 13 – Nepal (2000)
After praying on the bridge we approached the Chinese officials to get a permission to enter Tibet. The first official refused but the second one nodded approvingly, taking the four Australian passports from my hand as security, and let us go free of charge! This could happen only by the supernatural intervention of our Almighty God, Hallelujah! We had good prayer inside Tibet, especially on those individual shopkeepers whom I would grab and pray on without any resistance from them!
On 21 April all the eight of Australians and I had a trip to Gochadda in west Nepal and held a three days conference over there at Easter. While driving toward the destination I shared the Word with the driver of the private bus and during the inauguration of the conference he approached the altar and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. On the same day a Christian brother whose hand was partially crippled for six years was touched by the Holy Spirit and healed absolutely. He was shaking in his whole body and raising his hands, even the crippled one already healed, praising the Lord with all his strength, he glorified the Lord for his greatness, Hallelujah!
Out of about 200 participants in the conference by the grace of God 100 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit praising the Lord, singing, falling, crying, and many other actions as the Holy Spirit would prompt them to act. About ten of them testified that they had never experienced such a presence of the power and love of God. Some others testified being lifted to heavenly realms by the power of the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by the angels of the Lord in a great peace, joy, and love toward each other and being melted in the power of his presence. Many re-committed their lives to the Lord for ministry by any means through his revelation.
On the second day of the conference the trend continued as the people seemingly would fall down, repent, minister to each other in the love of Christ, enjoy the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, singing, prophesying, weeping, laughing, hugging, and all the beauty of the Holy Spirit was manifested throughout the congregation by his grace and love. One woman of age 65 testified that she never had danced in her life in any occasion even in secret, but the Lord had told her that she should now dance to him and she was dancing praising him with all her strength. For hours this outpouring continued and the pastors of the churches were one by one testifying that they had never experienced such a presence and power of God in their whole Christian life and ministry.
Some 60 evangelists from Gorkha, Dhanding, Chitwan, Butwal declared that they were renewed in their spirits by the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and they are now going to serve the Lord in the field wherever the Holy Spirit will lead them to be fully fledged in His service. In the last day of the conference while praying together with the congregation and committing them in his hands, many prophesied that the Lord was assuring them of great changes in their ministry, life and the area. While the power of God was at work in our midst three children of 6-7 years old fell down weeping, screaming and testifying about a huge hand coming on them and touching their stomachs and healing them instantly. After the prayer all the participants got into the joy of the Holy Spirit and started dancing to the Lord, singing and praising Him for His goodness.
Before leaving Gochadda while we were having snacks in the pastor’s house a woman of high Brahmin caste came by the direction of the Lord to the place, claiming that she was prompted by a voice in her ear to go to the Christians and ask for prayer for healing of her chronic stomach pain and problems, and that is why she was there. We prayed for her and she was instantly healed and we shared the Gospel, but she stopped us saying, “I need to accept Christ as my Saviour so don’t waste time!” She accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour being lifted in spirit, and even the body as she said she didn’t feel anymore burden in her body, and spirit, Hallelujah!
On 25 April we held another conference in Nazarene Church pastored by Rinzi Lama in Kathmandu. Ten churches unitedly participated in the two days gathering where about 100 people participated. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued in this conference refreshing many in their spirits and bringing much re-commitment. Some cases of healing were testified. …
On 27 April we held a one day conference in Hosanna Church where the touch of the Holy Spirit was tremendous and people blessed by the Holy Spirit and his might were manifesting his power and presence in the place. While people were worshipping and praising the Lord, a prophecy came and the Lord said, “What happened to the vision given to you six years ago? You have forgotten to pray about it but I have not forgotten what I have promised to you through the vision!” I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I had seen a vision where I was taken over the highest mountains in this country with a few of my foreign friends and some of our evangelists and as we put our step on the top of the mountain it started shaking and melting and my friends and the evangelists started disappearing, then I cried out, “Lord where are my friends?” And He said open your eyes and see, and I saw all my friends and the evangelists were scattered all over the mountains and they were coming towards me with multitudes of people behind them. I started weeping and with a feeling which words cannot explain I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, I was laughing in the Spirit for the repetition of the vision which I could see again. Hallelujah!
From Chapter 14 – USA: Pensacola
I liked the spontaneous bits best. Before Friday night’s revival service some people in the singing group of over 50 people on stage began singing free harmonies without music while they waited for the sound system to work, and we all joined in. It sounded like angels harmonizing in continual worship. Wonderful. No need for words!
Later, during the service Lindel Cooley, their worship leader, led spontaneously from the keyboard without other instruments, singing the chorus of an old hymn from his youth (and mine) – ‘Love lifted me’. All the oldies joined in, and then it went on to a verse sung from memory. It moved me deeply, from my own boyhood memories, especially as I had just then been asking the Lord for a personal touch from him.
A visitor preached, calling for faith and action. Their prayer team prayed for many hundreds at the ‘altar call’ – short and sharp, but relevant and challenging. The man who prayed briefly for me spoke about national and international ministries the Lord would open for me.
From Chapter 15 – Vanuatu (2002)
By Romulo: “The speaker was the Upper Room Church pastor, Jotham Napat who is also the Director of Meteorology in Vanuatu. The night was filled with the awesome power of the Lord and we had the Upper Room church ministry who provided music with their instruments. With our typical Pacific Island setting of bush and nature all around us, we had dances, drama, testified in an open environment, letting the wind carry the message of salvation to the bushes and the darkened areas. That worked because most of those that came to the altar call were people hiding or listening in those areas.The Lord was on the road of destiny with many people that night.”
Unusual lightning hovered around the sky and as soon as the prayer teams had finished praying with those who rushed forward at the altar call, the tropical rain pelted down on that open field.
God poured out his Spirit on many lives that night, including Jerry Waqainabete and Simon Kofe. Both of them played rugby in the popular university teams and enjoyed drinking and the nightclub scene. Both changed dramatically. Many of their friends said it would not last. It did last and led them into ministry and mission.
From Chapter 16 – Vanuatu (2003)
Significant events associated with the coming of the Gospel to South Pentecost included a martyr killed and a paramount chief’s wife returning from death.
Thomas Tumtum had been an indentured worker on cane farms in Queensland, Australia. Converted there, he returned around 1901 to his village on South Pentecost with a new young disciple from a neighbouring island. They arrived when the village was tabu (taboo) because a baby had died a few days earlier, so no one was allowed into the village. Ancient tradition dictated that anyone breaking tabu must be killed, so they were going to kill Thomas, but his friend Lulkon asked Thomas to tell them to kill him instead so that Thomas could evangelize his own people. Just before he was clubbed to death at a sacred Mele palm tree, he read John 3:16, then closed his eyes and prayed for them. Thomas became a pioneer of the church in South Pentecost, establishing Churches of Christ there.
Paramount Chief Morris Bule died at 111 on 1stJuly, 2016, the son of the highest rank paramount chief on Pentecost Island. After a wife of Chief Morris’s father died and was prepared for burial, the calico cloths around her began to move. She had returned from death and they took the grave cloths of her. She sat up and told them all to leave their pagan ways and follow the Christian way. Then she lay down and died.
Chief Morris’s son, Paramount Chief Peter, had an uncle who returned from Queensland as a Christian in the early 1900s. When he was old, after many years telling them about the Gospel, one day he called all his relatives to him, shook hands in farewell with everyone, and lay down and died immediately.
From Chapter 16 – Solomon Islands (2003)
Revival began with the Spirit moving on youth and children in village churches. They had extended worship in revival songs, many visions and revelations and lives being changed with strong love for the Lord. Children and youth began meeting daily from 5pm for hours of praise, worship and testimonies. A police officer reported reduced crimes, and said former rebels were attending daily worship and prayer meetings.
Revival continued to spread throughout the region. Revival movements brought moral change and built stronger communities in villages in the Solomon Islands including these lasting developments:
1 Higher moral standards. People involved in the revival quit crime and drunkenness, and promoted good behaviour and co-operation.
2 Christians who once kept their Christianity inside churches and meetings talked more freely about their lifestyle in the community and amongst friends.
3 Revival groups, especially youth, enjoyed working together in unity and community, including a stronger emphasis on helping others in the community.
4 Families were strengthened in the revival. Parents spent more time with their youth and children to encourage and help them, often leading them in Bible reading and family prayers.
5 Many new gifts and ministries were used by more people than before, including revelations and healing. Even children received revelations or words of knowledge about hidden magic artefacts or ginger plants related to spirit power and removed them.
6 Churches grew. Many church buildings in the Marovo Lagoon were pulled down and replaced with much large buildings to fit in the crowds. Offerings and community support increased.
7 Unity. Increasingly Christians united in reconciliation for revival meetings, prayer and service to the community. …
Children received revelations about their parent’s secret sins or the location of hidden magic artefacts or stolen property. Many children had visions of Jesus during the revival meetings. Often he would be smiling when they were worshipping and loving him, or he would show sadness when they were naughty or unkind. …
At Seghe the children and youth loved to meet every afternoon in the church near the Bible College there. The man leading these meetings had been a rascal involved in the ethnic tensions but was converted in the revival. A policeman from Seghe told me that since the revival began crime has dropped. Many former young criminals were converted and joined the youth worshipping God each afternoon. Revival continued to spread throughout the region. …
We taught in morning sessions about revival and answered questions. One mother, for example, asked about the meaning of her young son’s vision of Jesus standing with one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth. What a beautiful, powerful picture of Jesus’ claim that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matthew28:8), seen in a child’s vision.
From Chapter 17 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2004)
By Matthias: The deliverance ministry group left the college by boat and when they arrived at the Bungalows they prayed together. After they prayed together they divided into two groups.
There is one person in each of these two groups that has a gift from the Lord that the Holy Spirit reveals where the witchcraft powers are, such as bones from dead babies or stones. These witchcraft powers are always found in the ground outside the houses or sometimes in the houses. So when the Holy Spirit reveals to that person the right spot where the witchcraft power is, then they have to dig it up with a spade.
When they dug it out from the soil they prayed over it and bound the power of that witchcraft in the name of Jesus. Then they claimed the blood of Jesus in that place.
Something very important when joining the deliverance group is that everyone in the group must be fully committed to the Lord and must be strong in their faith because sometimes the witchcraft power can affect the ones that are not really committed and do not have faith.
After they finished the deliverance ministry they came together again and just gave praise to the Lord in singing and prayer. Then they closed with a Benediction.
From Chapter 19 – Vanuatu Pentecost (2004)
By Don: The night’s worship led by the law students started off as usual with singing, then spontaneously turned into a joyful party. Then Joanna Kenilorea gave a testimony about a very sad event in her family that brought the Keniloreas back to God. She was especially eloquent in her address and when finished, Geoff found that it had been so powerful that he had no more to add that night and made an immediate altar call for prayer. Almost as one, 300 high school students, teachers and others present rose from their seats and moved out into the aisle to the front of the hall. There were a couple of slow starters, but when it became apparent that Geoff could not possibly pray for each individually, even these moved up to the back of the crowd until everybody in that room had come forward. Geoff in all his years of ministry and association with renewal ministries and revival (and that was the subject of his doctorate) had never experienced anything like it. The most remarkable thing for Helen and me was we were there and part of it in such a remote and previously unknown part of our world! It was surely a night to remember.
From Chapter 21 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2005)
Many of the older people attending these intensive teaching sessions had been involved in local revivals through many years. They understood the principles involved such as repentance, reconciliation, unity, personal and group prayer that was earnest and full of faith, and using various gifts of the Spirit. They were most familiar with words of wisdom and knowledge, discerning spirits (especially from local witchcraft), revelations, healings and deliverance.
I learned much from them, especially about the spirit world and humbly seeking God for revelation and direction. We westerners tend to jump in and organize things without really waiting patiently on God for his revelation and direction. Many westerners, including missionaries, find waiting frustrating or annoying, but local people find it normal and natural. Wait on God and move when he shows you the way. For example, you can seek the Lord about who will speak, what to say, and how to respond.We westerners often use schedules and programs instead.
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
From Chapter 22 – Kenya (2005)
Before the Kibera slum church moved into their corrugated iron shed they met in a community hall. I taught leaders there, and spoke at their Sunday service with about 30 people. We gave them real bread for communion, not just symbolic cubes. The Spirit led me to give them all the bread we had, just t loaves (not five barley buns as the boy had in Scripture).
“Can I take some home to my family?” asked one young man. That’s a hard question to answer in front of 30 hungry people.
“It’s yours. You can take some of your own communion bread home if you want to,” I answered.
Everyone then took a large handful of communion bread, and most put some in their pockets to take home later. We shared real glasses of grape juice in plastic glasses, thanking the Lord for his body and blood given for us. After my return to Australia I heard that the bread apparently multiplied, as those who took some home had enough for their families to eat. Some of them were still eating it two weeks later.
From Chapter 22 – Fiji (2005)
By Jerry:While we were praying and worshipping, the Lord told me for the first ever time to take the salt water and the land and give it back to God. And I told this brother that when we offered it to God the rain is going to fall just to confirm that God hears and accepts it according to His leading.
I told him in advance while the Lord was putting it in my heart to do it… this is the first ever time and I always heard about it when people are being led… now it has happened to me… I could not even believe it.
As soon as he brought the water and I brought the soil to signify the sacrifice, I felt the mighty presence of God with us and was like numb… and the sun was really shining up in the sky with very little clouds. This rain fell slowly upon us…. I still could not believe… my cousin was astonished and could not believe it… it happened according to the way the Lord told me and I told him. It was like a made up story.
It was the blessings of God and I told the Lord that I am waiting for His own time to rebuild the walls of my village… but the Lord already told me that He wants and has chosen me to rebuild the wall of my village like Nehemiah.
From Chapter 23 – Fiji (2006) re Tanna Island
The Director of the Department of Meteorology in Vanuatu was in Fiji for a conference and I met him there again. He is also a pastor (Pastor Jotham) at Upper Room church in Port Vila where many of the law students attended.
In May 2006 he had been on mission in Tanna Island where the Lord moved strongly on young people, especially in worship and prayer. Children and youth were anointed to write and sing new songs in the local dialects. Some children asked the pastors to ordain them as missionaries – which was new for everyone. After prayer about it, they did.
Those children are strong evangelists already, telling Bible stories in pagan villages. One 9 year old boy did that, and people began giving their lives to God in his pagan village, so he became their ‘pastor’, assisted by older Christians from other villages.
From Chapter 24 – Vanuatu (2006)
At sharing time in the Upper Room service, a nurse, Leah Waqa, told how she had been recently on duty when parents brought in their young daughter who had been badly hit in a car accident, and showed no signs of life – the heart monitor registered zero.
Leah was in the dispensary giving out medicines when she heard about the girl and she suddenly felt unusual boldness, so went to the girl and prayed for her, commanding her to live, in Jesus’ name. She prayed for almost an hour, mostly in tongues, and after an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered.
The revival team, including the two of us from Australia, trekked for a week into mountain villages. We literally obeyed Luke 10 – most going with no extra shirt, no sandals, and no money. The trek began with a five-hour climb across the island to the village of Ranwas on ridges by the sea on the eastern side. Mathias led worship, and strong moves of the Spirit touched everyone. We prayed for people many times in each meeting. At one point I spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. Merilyn Wari, wife of the President of the Churches of Christ, then jumped up asking for prayer for her eyes, using the mud. Later she testified that the Lord told her to do that, and then she found she could read her small pocket Bible without glasses. So she read to us all. Meetings continued like that each night. …
Revival meetings erupted at Ponra. The Spirit just took over. Visions. Revelations. Reconciliations. Healings. People drunk in the Spirit. Many resting on the floor getting blessed in various ways. When they heard about healing through ‘mud in the eye’ at Ranwas some wanted mud packs also at Ponra!
One of the girls in the team had a vision of the village children there paddling in a pure sea, crystal clear. They were like that – so pure. Not polluted at all by TV, DVDs, videos, movies, magazines, and worldliness. Their lives were so clean and holy. Just pure love for the Lord, especially among the young. Youth often lead in revival.
The sound of angels singing filled the air about 3am. It sounded as though the village church was packed. The harmonies in high descant declared “For You are great and You do wondrous things. You are God alone” and then harmonies, without words until words again for “I will praise You O Lord my God with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name for evermore” with long, long harmonies on “forever more”. Just worship. Pure, awesome and majestic.
From Chapter 24 – Solomon Islands (2006)
Revival in the Guadalcanal Mountains had begun at the Bubunuhu Christian Community High School on Monday, July 10, 2006, on their first night back from holidays. They were filled with the Spirit and began using many spiritual gifts they had not had before. Then they took teams of students to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people, especially youth. Many gifts of the Spirit were new to them – prophecies, healings, tongues, and revelations (such as knowing where adults hid magic artefacts).
The National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in the north-west of the Solomon Islands at Choiseul Island, two hours flight from Honiara, brought over 1,000 youth together from all over the Solomon Islands.
By Grant: “Most of a thousand youth came forward. Some ran to the altar, some crying! There was an amazing outpouring of the Spirit. There were so many people, Geoff and I split up and started laying hands on as many people as we could. People were falling under the power everywhere (some testified later to having visions). There were bodies all over the field (some people landing on top of each other). Then I did a general healing prayer and asked them to put their hand on the place where they had pain. After we prayed people began to come forward sharing testimonies of how the pain had left their bodies and they were completely healed! The meeting stretched on late into the night with more healing and many more people getting deep touches.
It was one of the most amazing nights. I was deeply touched and feel like I have left a part of myself in Choiseul. God did an amazing thing that night with the young people and I really believe that he is raising up some of them to be mighty leaders in revival.”
A young man who was healed that night returned to his nearby village and prayed for his sick mother and brother. Both were healed immediately. He told the whole convention about that the next morning at the meeting, adding that he had never done that before.
The delegation from Kariki islands further west, returned home the following Monday.
The next night they led a meeting where the Spirit of God moved in revival. Many were filled with the Spirit, had visions, were healed, and discovered many spiritual gifts including discerning spirits and tongues. That revival has continued, and spread.
From Chapter 25 – Solomon Islands (2007)
We held revival meetings at the Theological Seminary at Seghe in the fantastic Marovo Lagoon – 70 kilometres with hundreds of tropical bush laden islands north and west of New Georgia Island. Morning teaching sessions, personal prayers in the afternoons and night revival meetings, with worship led by the students, filled an eventful week in September 2007. That was the first time the seminary held such a week, and again we prayed for so many at each meeting, students and village people. Meetings included two village revival services in the lagoon. At the first, an afternoon meeting in the framework of a large new church building, everyone came for prayer, all 100, and 30 reported on pain leaving as we prayed for healings. Then we had a long evening meeting at Patutiva village, where revival started in Easter 2003 across the Lagoon from Seghe. That meeting went from 7pm to 1.30am with about 1,000 people! We prayed personally for hundreds after the meeting ‘closed’ at 11pm. Students told me they could hear the worship and preaching on the PA across the lagoon 1k away in the still night air, so those in bed listened that way! …
The week at Taro was the fullest of the whole trip, the most tiring, and also the most powerful so far. Worship was amazing. They brought all the United Church ministers together for the week from all surrounding islands where revival is spreading and was accelerated after the youth convention near here in Choiseul the previous December, where the tsunami hit in April. Many lay people also filled the church each morning – about 200.
Night rallies at the soccer field included the amplifiers reaching people in their houses as well. Each night I spoke and Mathias also spoke, especially challenging the youth. We prayed for hundreds, while the youth lead worship at the end of each meeting. The ministers helped but they preferred to just assist us, and people seemed to want us to pray for them. I involved the ministers in praying for people also. There was a lot of conviction and reconciliation going on.
It’s fascinating that we so often see powerful moves of God’s Spirit when all the churches and Christians unite together in worship and ministry. God blesses unity of heart and action, especially among God’s people. It always involves repentance and reconciliation.
In all these places people made strong commitments to the Lord, and healings were quick and deep. Both in Vanuatu and in the Solomon Islands the people said that they could all understand my English, even those who did not speak English, so they did not need an interpreter. Another miracle.
Saturday night was billed as a big meeting at Patuvita across the channel. This is where the revival started with children of the lagoon at Easter 2003. Geoff had previously visited this church in September 2003. The old church building has been pulled down and the foundations were being pegged out on an open ridge high above the lagoon for the new one, which will probably hold up to 1000 as the revival swells the numbers.
Again students led the worship. Most of the adults were traditional, but there were forty or so in revival ministry teams who pray for the sick, cast out spirits and evangelise. We joined the meeting by 8pm and finished at 1.30am!
Worship went for an hour. Geoff then preached for nearly an hour. In his words –
Very lively stuff. Only tiny kids went to sleep – 50 of them on pandanus leaf mats at the front. Then we prayed for people – and prayed, and prayed, and prayed and prayed, on and on and on and on! I involved the ministers (after praying for them and leaders first), and the students – and still people came for prayer – by the hundreds.
We prayed for leaders who wanted prayer first, then for their ministry teams, then for youth leaders and the youth, and then for anyone else who wanted prayer, and at about midnight Mark called all the children for prayer, so the parents woke them up and carried the babies. I guess I prayed for 30 sleeping kids in mother’s arms and for their mothers and fathers as well.
Then after midnight when the meeting “finished” about 200 remained for personal prayer, one by one. So I involved 4 students with me, and that was great on-the-job training as well as praying. We prayed about everything imaginable, including many barren wives, men whose wives were un-cooperative, women whose husbands weren’t interested, and healings galore – certainly many more than 100 healings. In every case, those with whom we prayed said that the pain was totally gone.
I doubt if I’ve ever seen so many healings, happening so quickly. At 1.30am there were still 30 people waiting for prayer, so I got desperate, and prayed for them all at once. I told them just to put their hands on the parts of their body needing healings, and I prayed for them all at once, while the students and some ministers still there laid hands on them, and I also moved quickly around to lay hands on each one.
They were all happy, and again reported healings. I wish I’d thought of that at midnight! But at least a few hundred had a chance to talk with us and be specific about their needs.
From Chapter 27 – China (2007)
I loved it there among such humble, hungry, receptive, grateful, gentle, and faith-filled believers. I was often in tears just being there, appreciating their heartfelt zeal in everything. I have rarely been so impressed anywhere. No concerts. No acting. No hype. Just bare essentials. What a big and wonderful family we belong to, and our Father is so proud of his family there, I’m sure.
I had the great honour of speaking at a house church. People arrived in ones or twos over an hour or so, and stayed for many hours. Then they left quietly in ones or twos again, just personal visitors to that host family. Food on the small kitchen table welcomed everyone, some of it brought by the visitors.
About 30 of us crowded into a simple room with very few chairs. Most sat on the thin mat coverings. They sang their own heartfelt worship songs in their own language and style, pouring out love to the Lord, sometimes with tears. The leader played a very basic guitar in a very basic way.
Everyone listened intently to the message, and gladly asked questions, all of it interpreted. There was no need for an altar call or invitation to receive prayer. Everyone wanted personal prayer. Our prayer team of three or four people prayed with each person for specific needs such as healing and with personal prophecies. That flowed strongly. I knew none of that group, but received ‘pictures’ or words of encouragement for each one, as did the others.
While prayer continued, some began slipping quietly away. Others had supper. Others stayed to worship quietly. It was a quiet night because they did not want to disturb neighbours or attract attention.
Most people in that group were new believers with no Christian background at all. They identified easily with the house churches of the New Testament, the persecution, and the miracles, because they experienced all that as well. Many unbelievers become Christians because someone prayed for their healing and the Lord healed them.
From Chapter 28 – Fiji (2008, 2009)
By Romulo (2008): “Inter-tertiary went very well at Suva Grammar School that was hosted by Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship (CF). It was an awesome two nights of fellowship with God and with one another. The Pacific Students for Christ combined worship was a huge blessings for those that attended the two nights of worship. Pastor Geoff spoke on Obedience to the Holy Spirit – this being a spark to revival and power.
“Students came in droves for prayers and the worship lit up the Grammar School skies with tears, repentance, anointing and empowerment. The worship by Fiji School of Medicine students brought us closer to intimate worship with the King. It was a Pacific gathering and each and every person there was truly blessed as young people sought a closer intimate relationship with the King. We were blessed beyond words. Thank you all for the prayers, the thoughts and the giving.”
Roneil, a Fijian Indian, added, “It was all so amazing, so amazing that words can’t describe it. For me, it was obvious that the glory of God just descended upon the people during the Inter-tertiary CF. I’ve never seen an altar call that lasted for way more than an hour. I myself just couldn’t get enough of it. It was and still is so amazing. God’s anointing is just so powerful. Hallelujah to Him Who Was, Who Is and Who is to Come.”
By Romulo (2009): Two of the memorable highlights were the washing of leaders’ feet at RCCG Samabula and the worship service on Wednesday at RCCG Kiuva village. In fact I remember picking up the pastors on Sunday morning, and seeing Pastor Geoff carrying towels. I said to myself, ‘This is going to be fun.’ And fun it was.
God was teaching the church the principles of servanthood, demonstrated not just by words but by actions. It was a moving experience as Pastor Geoff on his knees started washing feet, drying them with a towel and speaking into the lives of leaders. Powerful also was the fact that Pastor Geoff’s leading was to wash the feet of leaders.
That Sunday former PM Rabuka, who heard of the Pastor’s visit, came to church for prayer. Of course, the leading for Pastor Geoff to pray for leaders meant Rabuka would get his feet washed too. One of the acts that will be embedded forever in my mind was seeing Rabuka sit on the floor, remove his coat and wash the feet of Pastor Geoff and KY Tan. He then dried their feet with his ‘favourite’ Fiji rugby coat (he played in their national rugby team). I was blown away by this act of humility, as demonstrated by Christ on his final night with the disciples before his arrest and execution.
On Wednesday night, (their last night in Suva), we were at Kiuva village in Tailevu. The powerful and angelic worship of young people and kids in Tailevu made the atmosphere one of power with a tangible presence of the Lord in the place. We saw a glimpse of revival and the power of God at work in such a simple setting. I was blessed to witness for myself the prevalent hunger in the body as lives connected with God. In all, it is purely refreshing being in the presence of God and being touched and filled by the Holy Spirit.
An event of some significance occurred in the early years of my episcopate. I had a feeling that the church as a whole was just plodding along. There were a few bright spots among the parishes, but on the whole I thought church growth was not exciting. What troubled me more was that not many clergy were over-concerned, and if they were anxious about the situation, they didn’t show it.
At the same time as I was experiencing these impressions, I was made aware of the ‘Holy Spirit’ movement. Pentecostal churches had been with us since the beginning of the century, but in the 1960s they had been showing a lot of vitality and considerable growth in adherents many former Anglicans and also former members of a number of other historic churches. I was interested to discover the reason for this new phenomenon. Books by Michael Harper, Colin Urquhart and David Watson, Anglican priests in England, helped me to understand this ‘charismatic movement’ (charisma here refers to the Pauline list of Spiritual Gifts).
I wanted to know about the ‘Power’ ministry, i.e. the Power of the Holy Spirit. I knew God had blessed the few natural gifts I had, but there was always so much effort on my part, and I got tired. There was not much ‘resting in the Lord’.
But I had a problem. My wife and I now lived in a fine house in Taringa Parade, Taringa, owned by the diocese. My wife knew of my growing interest in the charismatic movement, but was very apprehensive about this spiritual phenomenon. She said to me, ‘If you get involved in this movement, I’ll leave you.’ So I pulled back from the charismatic movement. However, an extraordinary event was about to unfold.
I went to a clergy retreat. While I was away, my wife went, albeit reluctantly, with a friend to a house meeting to hear an evangelist and spiritual healer. I imagine the friend was endeavouring to find support for my wife, who now had cancer. During the meeting, an invitation to go forward for prayer was given. My wife, who was really a very private person, was first to step forward. Later, she told me she didn’t really know what happened except friends were picking her up from the floor. She felt weepy, and asked to go home. She cried herself to sleep, not out of grief, but of joy.
The next day she had a strong desire to ring three women from whom she was estranged. Two were delighted that friendship was restored; the third, from whom my wife had not heard for months, got her phone call in first, and there was much rejoicing. In a real sense, I found a different woman in my home when I returned from the retreat. She of course looked the same, but she seemed to have grown ten feet tall spiritually.
With confidence now, I went to a conference in Sydney, led by Archbishop Bill Burnett of Capetown and Bishop Zulu, also from Africa. Archbishop Burnett was the Episcopal Father of the Charismatic Renewal in the Anglican Communion.
The conference was terrific and I ended up being elected chairman of the Anglican Renewal Ministries in Australia, a post I held for several years.
It was a joy to organize several Diocesan Renewal conferences at Camp Cal, Caloundra. Guest speakers at various times included Vernon Cohen and Dick Wallace, Anglican priests from Melbourne. It was a privilege to have Father Terry Fulham from Darien, Connecticut, USA, at another of the meetings.
Ecumenical Renewal services at St John’s Cathedral drew packed houses. The Rev. Geoff Waugh, from a Baptist-Uniting Church background, and a Roman Catholic priest, Father Vincent Hobbs, were co-convenors of these rallies, some of which were also held at St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Albert Street Uniting Church. These were exciting times as lives were changed, Holy Spirit power was in evidence and healings took place. A small number of diocesan priests were blessed and their ministries enriched.
Proclamation of Jesus
However, it was not all plain sailing. Some clergy regarded me as a ‘weirdo’ but one thing they could not deny: The proclamation of Jesus and God’s gifts of salvation by grace through faith became key features of my preaching. I was reminded by Scripture that the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus.
Of course, there are excesses in most spiritual movements. I have also known Anglo-Catholic and Evangelicals to go ‘over the top’, and I have experienced ‘charismatic Christians’ who have become quite unbalanced and fanatical.
I have been glad to have experienced the strong sacramental life of Anglicanism and the good order of liturgical worship. But liturgical worship need not be stiff. The warmth of the Spirit can melt the coldness of mere formalism. At times, ‘non-liturgical’ services, too, have a very helpful place in our churches.
I was invited to a conference of Evangelicals in Melbourne. I guess it was strange to have one brought up in a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition to be given this invitation. However, my role was to respond to a paper by Michael Cassidy on ‘Charismatic or Spiritual Renewal’. Michael has been well known in many countries as one of the leaders of African Enterprise an organization concerned with a two-pronged mission Evangelism and Community Social Development.
From Monday to Wednesday, the lectures had been superb, but more of the head than of the heart. I thought, in fact, that the mood of the delegates was quiet and subdued. So arrived my six minutes. The then Archbishop of Melbourne, Bob Dann, kept reminding me about the ‘six minutes’. I put away my prepared text and simply shared with the conference what spiritual renewal meant to me: how my ministry was enriched, how I came to understand and love Jesus more. The response of the delegates was very moving to me. They rose in acclamation. I went backstage and wept. God had done something beautiful.
As I had to leave the conference immediately and return to Brisbane, I could know only secondhand that the mood of the conference changed from that moment people were more open and friendly than before.
What has always amazed me is that Anglican leaders, yes, bishops, have almost acted as though Pentecostalism does not exist, especially when many Anglicans have moved into Pentecostal fellowships and especially since Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian expression in Australia. Either they are afraid to admit that Pentecostalism has ‘something’; or worse, they think Pentecostals are in some way outside the pale and not to be regarded as part of the Christian family.
Bishop Shevill once said, ‘The untaught truths of yesterday become the heresies of today.’ In other words, what the historic churches fail to emphasize, others pick up and go to excesses. Historic churches, by their partial neglect of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, have in part, only themselves to blame for the growth of many Pentecostal fellowships.
Before and after my adventure with ‘Charismatic Renewal’ I felt called to offer myself to any priest who would risk inviting me to lead a parish mission. I had no particular training in evangelism but I learnt something by doing.
During my time as an archdeacon and assistant bishop, I conducted parish missions or intense weekend teaching periods in a number of places within and outside the Diocese of Brisbane. The ‘local’ ones were at Stanthorpe, Pittsworth, Petrie (twice), Mt Gravatt (twice), Maroochydore, Bundaberg, Nanango, Ekibin, Inala, Yeronga and Ashgrove. Outside the diocese, missions were taken at Kurri Kurri in the Diocese of Newcastle, Glen Innes in the Diocese of Grafton, Stratford in the Diocese of Gippsland, Belgrave in the Diocese of Melbourne and Biloela in the Diocese of Rockhampton.
It was a privilege to be invited by the Bishop of Singapore, Ban it Chui, to take a mission in his Cathedral of St Andrew and also a clergy retreat. The visit to Singapore was a real eyeopener. In this diocese, the ‘charismatic movement’ has changed church life in many parishes. I saw churches filled especially with young people hungry for the Gospel. In one parish I visited, a cinema has now been acquired to accommodate the growing congregation.
One night while I was ministering in St Andrew’s Cathedral, a young man a Buddhist wandered in and was converted to the Christian faith. On one Sunday, I ministered to an all Indian congregation. For three hours, the whole congregation came singly or in family groups for the laying on of hands with prayer. A number were overpowered by the Holy Spirit and all the time I was praying over others, two women knelt on the concrete floor beside me, praying for me. With such enthusiasm for Jesus, it is perhaps not surprising that it was hard for me to leave Singapore.
Of course, it is difficult to estimate the effect of such parish missions. In one or two places, I suspect the missions were a complete failure. My own ministry may have been defective or maybe the preparation may have been inadequate.
However, in other places, according to the rectors, lives were changed, people were converted, people were physically healed. A former rector of Maroochydore, in the Diocese of Brisbane, told me that my mission was the most significant event in his long ministry in that parish. For that I praise God and give Him the glory.
Recently I met a businessman in Nambour who confessed that he had been converted at the mission in Glen Innes. I remembered this man well. He was the last to whom I ministered at that mission.
There have, however, been a few regrets. I have known people so changed and challenged by the in-flowing power of the Holy Spirit to be a real threat to parish clergy in parishes where I have ministered. These dear priests have not been able to cope with the enthusiasm of the newly converted and have found them difficult to cope with. Some of my missions have swelled the numbers going to Pentecostal churches.
It has been beautiful over the years to see wayward husbands come back to their wives and families, to see men and women freed from the burden of guilt which has plagued them for years, to see people with cancer have remission for a number of years, to know people so enthused that they form the nucleus of a new parish. I have been amazed over the years at the transforming power of Jesus in individual lives.
In January 1989 I began as minister of a thirty-five year old church at Beaumont in Adelaide that had suffered numerical decline. It had followed the typical pattern of an inner suburban church with its complex of buildings, a Sunday School of 350 children, and two packed morning services in its heyday of the boom years of Methodism in the fifties and sixties.
In those years the church was a buzz of activity. Its youth group grew as children entered their teens. Membership figures increased as the teenagers took confirmation classes. Church growth was natural and expected. It required no specific strategies. People looked for a neighbourhood church which provided worship, a Sunday School, youth program, and the accepted activities associated with church life at the time.
Gradually the neighbourhood became prime real estate. When the young people married they had to move out to newer suburban areas where land was cheaper. Predicably the congregation declined and grew older. By 1989 an average of 85 people attended the one service on Sunday and a handful of children attended the Sunday School. Many were concerned about the future of this single congregation parish, and the parish leaders had begun discussions with nearby congregations regarding amalgamation.
Regreening in the Spirit’s power
This became for me an experiment in turning a church around. Was it possible to arrest the decline and begin to build again? Would the church have a significant and effective future as well as a dynamic ministry in the name of Jesus Christ?
Early in my first year at this church I found I was also involved emotionally and could not separate my personal feelings from what I discovered and what I believed God had in store for us. Could I lead this church to new life and growth? I personally was most aware of my own need of God’s help and of my need to grow spiritually as the leader of this church.
I was fortunate to be nearing the end of doctoral studies in church growth and renewal. I had also been a consultant in the related area of evangelism for eight years. Hence I came with some knowledge and experience that I believed would help my leadership of this church. However, my experience of working at length with a declining congregation was minimal. I knew that I and they would be very dependent upon the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the interview before my appointment the nominating committee indicated they were seeking someone of my age and experience. They also emphasized their desire to be more effective evangelistically and to reach the neighbourhood for Christ. I intimated my bias for evangelism and sought to know whether they would be open to change and to embrace new directions I might initiate. They agreed, not knowing exactly what would occur in the years to follow.
New goals and direction
I began by getting to know the people and by learning their corporate history. Some had been in the church since its inception. Most had been there for ten or twenty years or more. Very few, if any, were new to the church in recent years. They considered themselves a friendly church but did not have in place ways of welcoming and assimilating new people.
Obviously pastoral work was important. I was led by the Spirit to visit people in their homes. In the first year I listened considerably. I also realized that the people were ready for change and much could happen in the first year. Indeed, some significant developments needed to occur as symbols of hope and as signs of God doing a new thing.
We were to engage in a stewardship program in June of my first year. Planning for this two year stewardship cycle had to begin early. So I talked with my parish council and elders about their aspirations and yearnings for the church. It was obvious there were no common goals, no specific direction, no vision to fire the imagination and to prompt people to give freely. Therefore in the April of 1989 we gathered forty people, key leaders and interested people for a seven hour session of reflection, evaluation, waiting on the Lord and goal setting.
We met on a Sunday afternoon and evening with a shared tea. At the end of the time we had established ten specific goals that we could work towards in 1989-1990. These became strategic in the life of the church and did much to harmonize people around a common direction. It gave purpose to the stewardship program which was successful and assured the church of financial resources for the ensuing years.
In the weeks preceding the goal setting I preached on the nature of the church using New Testament imagery such as the Body of Christ, the vine and the branches, and the picture of living stones given in 1 Peter 2:410. This supported the truth that theology is the basis of renewal.
Although there are simple practical strategies that are easily overlooked, true growth is biblically and theologically founded. It occurs through the Spirit of God renewing both people’s lives and the structures that enable us to live in community.
Theology of renewal
Theology became for us the very essence of renewal. How we understood and experienced God and the covenant determined our attitudes, expectations and actions. The term ‘the body of Christ’ became important as a description of who we were. It affirmed three main truths about the church:
1. There is to be corporate growth in unity and maturity.
2. Growth occurs as the variety of gifts of the people, given by the Spirit, are used in complementary fashion.
3. The church is a living organism with Jesus Christ in authority as the supreme head of the body.
Emphasizing a gift theology, inherent in the Uniting Church Basis of Union, we held a gift workshop in the spring of my first year. This examined the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians
4. It had practical application and included a process by which the participants could begin to identify their special gifts for ministry.
In Ephesians, Paul describes a church in which all the members are to be equipped for the work of ministry. He does not envisage a church where only a few are engaged in ministry or where most are consumers rather than participants. Ministry is done by the whole church, by Christians working in concert. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Harmonious cooperation and the complementary use of gifts far surpasses the results of individual Christians working alone and independently. One of the priority tasks of church leaders is to help the members discover their gifts for ministry, to develop such gifts, and to channel them into effective areas of service.
Equipping people for ministry
To enhance the pastoral ministry of the congregation a Caring Committee was appointed by the elders council. This group believed that the ministry should be according to one’s spiritual gifts and not by virtue of the office one might hold.
We identified over thirty people gifted in pastoral ministry and called them together to discuss the ministry model we had in mind and to provide instruction on how to make effective pastoral visits. An eight week care workers course followed in the next year. The result is that we now have a team of people who visit members and others associated with the church. This provides a network of care in which no one need be overlooked. The visitors meet about three times a year to discuss their ministry and to review their list of people.
Another person, gifted in administration and with deep compassion, coordinates a special caring program whereby practical help is given to those with special needs.
In our church we no longer allocate each elder to a group of members. Some elders are not gifted pastorally but have other excellent gifts. Any elder is available to anyone according to need and relationships that are established. We work on the principle that the elders are responsible to see that visiting occurs and are there to release the gifts of those who can do it well.
Other gifts have emerged under this theology. We appointed an honorary administrator who retired from the business world but who obviously brought a wonderful gift in administration. His work of about ten hours a week has involved two mornings a week at the church office. I arranged to be at the office on those mornings as that increased efficiency and communication. Opening the church office on these two days improved the church’s profile and made its leaders more accessible.
Many music gifts lay dormant in our worship. We had a very good choir and a couple of proficient organists. The piano in the sanctuary, however, was rarely used. To cater for increasing numbers at worship we added an additional morning service in August 1989. This provided more options. The 9 am service became family oriented and only on occasions is the pipe organ used at this service. Instead, an orchestra sometimes numbering seven or eight has provided the music.
Introducing new songs and installing a screen for use with overheads enlivened the worship and provided greater variety. Our work with musicians includes workshops for worship leaders. We have many unused gifts in this area that we wish to employ. The commencement of a regular 7 pm service has created other opportunities for lay leadership, especially by youth. By 1992 the aggregate number at worship had grown to about 200 and the average age is much less than it was in 1989.
We had demographic data available to us on that first planning day and we discovered that the surrounding community contained more younger people than was reflected in the church. Fifty per cent of the population in the parish area is under forty years of age. With this in mind, and trusting in God, we set about embracing the future with confidence. Now our Sunday School is growing, we operate a creche, and we have a growing youth movement.
Believing prayer is central to the renewal that is occurring. A prayer chain has operated in the church for many years. Its members, all ladies, meet over lunch once a month. Here prayer needs are shared. Another early morning prayer group has begun as a spin off from 7 am services on Wednesdays during Lent. A number decided to meet every Wednesday at that time and so a group of ten, including men, have gathered faithfully to pray for people and for the church. A focus of our prayer is the renewal of the church and for effective evangelistic ministry. Our church also offers prayer for healing, primarily during ministry time following services of worship.
Group life has also received attention. New home groups and Bible study groups have commenced to provide opportunities for people to engage in study, to offer and receive ministry, and to enhance fellowship. These meet according to needs and availability. They very from weekly to monthly gatherings.
At the heart of what is occurring in our church is our belief that God is continuing the renew us and, while giving ministry in the present, is preparing us to embrace God’s unfolding future. We understand that renewal is the ongoing renewing by God of the church. It is dynamic, never static. It is not an achieved state. It is not the end but the way. To be in renewal is to be journeying with God in the presence of believers.
The primary theological ground for renewal is the kingdom of God. Renewal is not the result of human effort although we are able to respond to God’s renewing activity in ways which appropriate such activity. Renewal is the work of God that points to the coming reign of God in the lives of persons and community.
The kingdom of God is neither entirely present nor entirely future. It is here now, is coming, and will come. This gives perspective to renewal. It enables the church to be a community of hope. This orientation points to what is to be as a reality greater than what has been. As such it is a very powerful motivator for Christian living and ministry. It creates vision which fosters hope and incentive.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we have been led to preach that the church is a community premised on the promise of what is to be. We are not simply to adjust to present reality, nor only to patch up here and there or even seek to recover what was. Renewal points to transformation, embracing the new. Hence we pray ‘Your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10).
We believe that the ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God and to be an agent of God in establishing the unity and wholeness of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:910). The church is a servant of the kingdom of God.
In witnessing to the wholeness of God’s kingdom we seek to demonstrate unity, forgiveness, reconciliation and new relationships. One of the most important factors in our witness is the quality of our corporate life in Christ lest our words be empty and our theology barren. We endeavour to be spiritually renewed, our motivation enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We seek a genuine growth in holiness that releases the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our church is on the way. In some quarters we struggle with conservatism but we endeavour to listen to one another, recognizing the Spirit of Christ in us all. We also use appropriate practical strategies that can be learned from church analysis and church growth. We are down-to-earth and pragmatic. But we endeavour to place God at the centre knowing that unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain. Renewed in the power of the Spirit we wish to be living stones, built into a spiritual house of God (1 Peter 2:5).
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 35-42.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)
Evangelism can lead to renewal and on to revival of the church. I have seen this in my experience in ministry in the last sixteen years as someone committed to the renewal of people and churches.
We need to release the dedicated and already discipled people of our parishes and churches into sharing their faith with those outside the church. This is a strategy for renewal that will lead to the revival of the church in the 1990’s.
Time and time again new converts begin the process of renewing the church and individuals in it. Their fresh approach to religion, their radical testimonies to the faith, and their enthusiasm to share the gospel and to live in its power, affect many others.
Does it work? Let’s look at one parish I know really well where I served for seven years.
Evangelism leads to revival
Margaret Matthews, a nurse and an elder in the Cobden Uniting Church Parish, gave this account at the Conference on Conversion Growth in Launceston, Tasmania, 1012 March, 1988. It describes her experiences of both personal and parish-wide renewal that started with evangelism.
Cobden is in the heart of a dairying district in Western Victoria, and a recent decision to expand the local factory has assured the future viability of the town. Our population of 1,450 is stable. We all know our neighbours. Our parish has two churches, both of which now have active Sunday Schools, youth groups and fellowship groups. Bible studies are an integral part of our life, catering for all levels of faith from 13 to 84 year olds. All participate in the leadership of worship. We started evening services with a more relaxed, informal worship style where newcomers felt more at ease.
Our growth story really began many years ago, when during a prolonged time of ministerial vacancy we were visited by an evangelist who challenged us to pray for revival in our church. A small group gathered together following the lines suggested: that we share the leadership, pray for the church and each other, and bring a name before the group and pray that God would prepare their hearts as we approached them and shared his Word.
We saw our prayers answered and we saw our fellowship grow to 2030 people who met under our first minister after the formation of the Uniting Church in 1977.
Like most of our generation, we clung to the concepts we had grown up with: preaching the gospel was the minister’s job and bringing newcomers to the church was no longer our responsibility. We lost our sense of purpose and our direction for several years. Our numbers began to dwindle and although we continued to pray that others might come to know the Lord, we were almost back to the original six or seven of us.
A new minister arrived. Hearing our prayer for revival and seeing us do nothing actively to bring it about, she organized an evangelism workshop for our Presbytery and persuaded eight of us to go to it. For myself, it was a real step of faith. I had forgotten how easy it had been, with the Lord’s help, to share my faith with friends, and now we were being asked to knock on stranger’s doors a terrifying thought!
It became our ministry to make those strangers into friends: getting to know people, listening and ministering to their needs, sharing their stories, sharing our story and God’s story, depending on God to do the rest.
We all came home from the workshop inspired to put what we had learned, into practice. We set aside one night each week to go visiting on a regular basis. We first met for prayer to ask the Lord to prepare the way and to go with us, and those of our group who did not go out joined together to pray for those who did. After our visit we returned to the church to talk it over, to learn from each other’s experiences, to get any hurts or knockbacks off our chests, and to share any blessings with those who stayed behind to pray.
To our surprise, after a few weeks, we realized we were enjoying this experience and started looking forward to it. We found that our little team of eight just couldn’t keep up with all the people who would like us to return for a visit. There was a great thirst out there beyond our church of people wanting to know more about the Lord, about the church, or wanting to share the hurt that took them away from the faith in the past.
About twelve months later, a second evangelism workshop was organized by our own and neighbouring parishes. Now many others in the church could see the importance of evangelism and most of our elders and several of our converts attended it. By then, I had begun a Bible Study home cell for some of the new converts who had no background of Christianity, but a wonderful new faith which was to change their lives, and lead me into a deeper faith commitment.
I didn’t start out to be an evangelist. I didn’t have that burning desire to share my faith with everyone I met, which I found among our converts. My visiting was an act of obedience to God’s will for us to share the gospel with all people. It was a stepping out in faith on the road that takes you from `What can God do for me?’ to `What can I do for God?’
Margaret, through the witness of her converts, later sought the infilling of the Holy Spirit and today not only continues to share her faith but is a mighty preacher and dynamic Bible Study teacher. From the witness of these early evangelists and those who were converted to the faith, the parish grew by 135% on their adherents roll and by 26% in four years (198387) in their confirmed members’ roll. In 1988, the 241 regular Sunday worshippers included 121 of the people who had faith for longer than ten years and 119 (49%) of the people having come to faith in the last five years (between 198388). In 1989, 94% of those converted to the faith were still regular attenders at worship (some now 6 years old in their faith).
Revival first started in this parish because an evangelist came and proclaimed the gospel. That gave others a hunger to do the same. It almost failed when a minister arrived during a prolonged vacancy and the people abdicated their responsibility to him, but it was later revived by another minister. As the converts grew in faith and hungered for a deeper expression of their faith, they sought, received and began to use their spiritual gifts. It led them into a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. This influenced the established church to reevaluate itself and to also grow in renewal.
Renewal that brings revival
Our strategies in the church for bringing renewal have at times been wrought with force, causing judgment, mistrust and resistance. This resistance in the church can gravely hurt those in the renewal movement. So they have at times left the churches that would not accept their way or stayed in their church and developed a ghetto mentality of `we-they’ that made it harder for others to see renewal as an option for their lives.
In past years, the renewal movement often concentrated on changing worship to allow all the spiritual gifts to be prevalent and seen by sceptics and nonbelievers alike, thinking that this would aid in renewing others. Signs and wonders, although reaching some and exciting them to seek renewal, also frightened many more and turned them right off renewal.
A strategy for the renewal of the church needs to be more than just a change of worship where signs and wonders can be evident. Renewal demands a more radical lifestyle and call to ministry than this. When this change is seen in others, the people in the church do respond.
Here is an anatomy of renewal that I believe leads to revival:
1. Evangelists proclaim the message of salvation and people are converted to faith.
2. The converts grow in faith and hunger for a deeper expression of their faith. They seek, receive and use the spiritual gifts leading them into a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit which influences the established church to reevaluate itself and to also grow in the area of renewal.
3. The church then needs to understand and standardize the use of the spiritual gifts from good biblical teaching moving the people away from experience as the authority for the use of spiritual gifts to good theology about their use.
4. Converts and those who grew up in the faith examine their lives in light of God’s Word,
showing a desire for deeper service to the Lord and a hunger for righteous and holy living.
Evangelism renewal revival
The Reformation revivals of the 1500’s, the Great Awakening of the 1700’s, or the South Australian revivals in the mines at Wallaroo, Moonta and Burra at the turn of this century, follow this common pattern: evangelism renewal revival (in that order).
First, evangelists went out and proclaimed the gospel. The gospel they proclaimed emphasiszd a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and an individual religious experience rather than the doctrines of the church. Many people fell under the conviction of these evangelists’ proclamation of the gospel and received salvation.
As these converts grew in faith, they began to hunger for a deeper expression of their faith and began seeking, receiving and using the spiritual gifts God uses to build the church. That led them into a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. This greatly influenced the preaching of the evangelists and their message.
When revival got to this second stage evangelists like John and Charles Wesley shifted from their basic salvation message of the early days of revival to sermons on a deeper discipleship and on walking in the power of the Spirit of God. This led to them establishing Bible studies, encouraging lay people to take up leadership roles in every giftedness of the Spirit, and it eventually led to the established church of their day reevaluating itself and growing in renewal.
This process also happened in the Reformation revival where the reformers shifted from the basic salvation message of their earlier days to deeper discipleship which led to the established church (the Catholic Church) reevaluating itself and having a revival itself influenced by such people as St. John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila, some 40 years after the Reformation.
This leads to the third phase of revival. In every succeeding generation when renewal comes, the church all over again, needs to learn how to understand and use the spiritual gifts given to them by God. So, the next phase of revival seems to be standardizing the use of the spiritual gifts and how they are to be ordered and used in the life of the church. Every new generation of revivalists find themselves in unchartered waters. So it takes time to sort out problems with the use of spiritual gifts and ensure that there is sound Biblical teaching on them.
Often those in the renewal movements, excited to experience the power of their faith, rush into using the gifts (and having `the experience’) rather than doing serious biblical study in order to bring others with them in good understanding. The `experience’ is not enough. We need good renewal theology that is strong enough to be debated.
The last phase of revival seems to be an inner desire of both converts and those who grew up in the faith to examine their lives in light of God’s Word, a desire for deeper service to the Lord and a hunger for righteous and holy living. This was very evident in the Great Awakening revival where evangelists later in the revival clearly shifted their proclamation of the salvation message to the preaching on holiness and righteous living (such as the sermons of the American revivalist of the early 1700’s, Jonathan Edwards).
The history of the church, shows long periods (which sadly follow great revivals) where the gospel is reduced by many in the church to narrow relativism. Pragmatism is rife. This leads to a suspicion of the supernatural, and for a while the church loses the power of its faith from lack of belief in the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts. The church in this condition seldom goes out to do evangelism but is content with social work and political statements.
Therefore, for renewal of the church to be effective today and for it to issue out into revival, we must first start with evangelism.
Revival involves mission and ministry
The following comments show how the personal encounter of the Holy Spirit by converts led the church to reevaluate its life, moving them into renewal. It caused them to explore the use of spiritual gifts by good Biblical teaching and discipleship. That moved people away from experience as the only authority for the use of spiritual gifts to good theology about their use.
These quotes are from talks that Cobden people gave at the Launceston 1988 Conversion Growth Workshop sponsored by the Uniting Church Assembly’s National Mission and Evangelism Committee.
Barbara Cowley, the Cobden Parish treasurer and a mother of two, says, “I have always believed in God and have attended Sunday School and church most of my life. In our courting days, my husband used to come to church with me, but after we were married he always found himself too busy to come. Our two children were baptized and attended Sunday School regularly, our daughter especially so, and our son until the age of 10 when he rebelled about going.
“When my daughter finished Sunday School and didn’t want to attend church anymore, I went to church by myself but my attendance started to drop off. At about that time my husband started exploring his faith. This encouraged me and we started attending church as a family. Since then, both our children have made decisions for the Lord at different times.
“Since being baptized in the Holy Spirit, my eyes have been opened to the workings of the Lord. Even though I had been involved in attending church all my life, it’s only in the last couple of years that my faith has come alive in attending our Bible Study group, which has helped me grow in my walk with the Lord.”
Hazel and the late Norm Maskell, dairy farmers, church elders, and Cobden Parish’s original evangelists in their mid70’s, led cell groups. Hazel and Norm said, “Why did we form study or cell groups? We believed that the church would not or could not grow until our people came together to study God’s Word, understand his gifts and to build each other up in faith. Those we brought to faith needed nurturing and encouraging. So our study groups came into existence one by one.
“These converts were more teachable than some of the older folk in the faith. Being eager to learn, they were wide open to Bible teaching and getting to know the Lord in a real way. Their growth was astounding, causing our growth too! We have seen miracles happen and now we see many of these new Christians taking leading roles in our church life alongside of us. I have found that new Christians pray out loud, share faith, and learn far more easily than we who have been in the church for some time, because they have no preconceived ideas. Almost any Bible Study member in our church will pray on the spot publicly. They thank God for various things, confess their own shortcomings, and pray for others. Now almost half the congregation will participate in prayer or the leading of worship whenever asked to do so. The result of these Bible Study groups is that our church has not only grown in numbers, but more importantly, we understand the Holy Spirit so much better and know the Spirit to be working in our church. We older folk have learned so much and grown closer to the Lord.”
Sometimes there may be difficulties for the church when it tries to assimilate not only new people into the life and especially the leadership structure of the church, but also starts reevaluating itself in light of the testimonies of these new converts and their walk with the Lord.
Most people within our church will say ‘we need new blood, some fresh faces and especially we need more younger folk to keep us going.’ However, once there is new blood, fresh faces, and younger folk coming into our churches, many old-timers may feel that the ‘new folk have taken us over and have made so many changes that we don’t know what’s going on anymore, so we will just stay at home and let them run it!’
Church growth in evangelism and renewal means that we, too, as individuals have to grow and be renewed. Many people resist this. Sometimes, church growth can only happen by berthing a new church that’s separate from the established church. This happened both in the Reformation and Great Awakening Revivals and it did most recently in the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Although the Cobden Parish had some battles and upheavals from its evangelism and renewal, division was averted by hospitality fellowship, Bible Study and shared worship. The leadership shared in hospitality fellowship, that is, intentionally inviting old-timers in the church to meals and gatherings with converts and helping them to get to know and to interpret their faith journey to each other.
The Bible Studies started out to disciple converts. Then, as people in the church started to reevaluate their faith journey through their contacts with the converts and hungered to know more, Bible Studies were set up for them too. Later, converts and those of long standing in the church merged many of their separate Bible Studies together where they learned to pray and care for one another.
Another important aspect of the Bible Studies, was the curriculum the Parish wrote to train people about the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the proper use of the spiritual gifts. When members discovered their own spiritual gifts, they were encouraged to take up their ministry roles within the life of the church. For converts this usually occurred by the end of their first year in the faith.
Shared worship took the form of setting up eight worship teams of six people each, chosen across generations and from each of the worshipping congregations. Each member of the team had a designated area of leadership: prayers, music, administration of the team, children’s sermon, the sermon, the organisation of the service sheet, announcements and the Bible readings. They had to listen to each other’s needs and they developed a style of worship that all were happy with and that was open enough to be able to evolve, as the parish needs changed.
We see that evangelism starts the process of renewal which brings revival. Renewal leads to a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit as the converts of the church’s evangelistic outreach grow in faith and hunger for the power of their faith, seeking, receiving and using the Spiritual gifts. This renewal leads to the established church reevaluating itself and either blockading and resisting renewal, or growing in it.
Renewal leads to discipleship training in and standardizing the use of the spiritual gifts with good Biblical teaching and the development of an articulate theology that can be debated. Discipleship leads to a radical lifestyle where one has a desire for a deeper service to the Lord, a greater knowledge of God’s Word and a hunger for righteous and holy living.
When the church misses one of these parts revival doesn’t happen. For instance, in studying several charismatic churches, I have discovered that if a church tries to bring in renewal before it does evangelism, it often gets a huge amount of transfer growth from other churches which leads to divisions and it eventually goes into decline.
If renewal doesn’t follow on into good discipleship, the church folk often get stuck on the experiences of the Holy Spirit and cannot articulate a clear enough theology so that they can take others into the experience with them in good understanding. Often these churches can become quite ingrown and in a denominational structure be quite divisive.
If discipleship does not produce a radical lifestyle, the church does not benefit others. Then it runs the risk of not only privatizing a person’s faith journey, but also of making one’s experience the only test of the validity of other people’s faith. It also means that the church remains at the level of signs and wonders instead of moving into a deeper discipleship with Jesus where one is sold out to him in complete sacrifice in holy living.
Jesus said to the doubting Thomas, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe’ (John 20:29). Signs and wonders are for nonbelievers (1 Corinthians 14) but a radical lifestyle of a disciple is for the mature Christian.
Many church leaders spend so much effort in renewing a congregation from within. I firmly believe that a congregation should be renewed from without, through evangelism and the converts that receive their message.
Then evangelism will lead to renewal and revival in the land.
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 23-33.
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