Citywide Transformative Revival

I have understood that the most fruitful approach to developing the theological foundations for a social ethic for Hispanic Pentecostalism rests in the development of a social spirituality. This spirituality must emerge and thus cohere with Hispanic Pentecostal experience — particularly as it relates to the ministry of the Spirit (Villafañe, 1993:193).

In this chapter I expand revival and revival movement theories of the previous chapters into a theory of citywide transformative revival as part of a proposal to fill the theological vacuum identified in the previous chapter. The methodology continues the search for principles that are verifiable theologically, historically and sociologically. In this chapter these propositions are justified from observation, literature and logic.

Fig 1: From a Revival Web of Belief to Transformative Revival

Transforamtive Revival Web of Belief


Fig 1: Six core elements of Evangelical theology contribute to the traditional web of belief about revival. Core Evangelicalism has become modified by elements of Pentecostalism’s emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit. Within these gifts, emphasis on the apostolic and prophetic gifts will be developed to indicate a possible progression into processes of transformative revival. Part 3 will examine the visionary ideals of these processes – these form an emergent web of belief about transformative revival.

Interpreting Loss of the Presence

Is such a theory necessary? I have already alluded to the loss of the national revival dynamic. I have indicated it failed to some extent through redirection from the biblical ends of releasing the laity to bring the Kingdom into society, into a pastorally-controlled institutional focus on the intermediate goal of church growth. This was accelerated in the migration to Pentecostalism.

Part of the difficulty for those giving leadership to charismatics in New Zealand was to interpret the loss of presence and power. As examined previously, the decline of the New Zealand-wide revival appears to have been largely due to too rapid institutionalisation, lack of sustained theological development, failure to develop leadership training and breakdown of information flow from core leadership as it became denominationalised. However, it is difficult for leaders to tell the people that revival has died because of leadership failures.

Failure to teach the relationship of repentance, changes in economic and social lifestyles, reconciliation and social justice are factors and such issues are more understandable. However, to a large extent, apology for the failure of leadership in these issues has been absent in evangelical churches.. The issues remained outside the theological framework of most.

In the vacuum of explanation for the loss of the presence, many people touched by the revival migrated to Pentecostal churches. However, themes interpreting why God had lifted his hand, were also not part of Pentecostal teaching. Instead, (along with the real ongoing presence of God on some touched by the revival), imported specialist revivalists, or those gifted in sign gifts and more fervent attempts to recall the former presence of God, became normative.

NZ Prophet of Revival

I worshipped, listening to one of New Zealand’s godly prophets. When he speaks, in a down to earth Kiwi honesty, there is evidence of the presence of God on him, as he shakes. When he prays for people they fall down under the power of God. These signs affirm to Assemblies of God people his words about upcoming revival. Such words repeat a hundred years of institutionalised oral tradition within the Assemblies of God.

I do not wish to imply that God is not at work or that spiritual growth is not occurring through such prophets. But that is neither revival, nor transformative revival. It is expansion of institutional themes through those with prophetic giftings. Another strange phenomenon, is the dependence on American “prophets.” I listened to the advertising about a new “prophetic” magazine on Radio Rhema.[1] The magazine includes “articles by various prophetic leaders” (it then mentioned three American authors, who are recognised as godly prophets in their contexts, but have no real connection to the issues of New Zealand).

Better explanation is needed! It is not honest to keep prophesying, “Revival is coming! revival is coming!” without defining the nature of obedience once revival has come.

I seek now to give an alternative framework, by developing a theory of transformative revival, beginning with several principles already developed in the analysis of revival. The foundational principle I have identified as the coming of the Spirit in power (p 62 08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000080000000D0000005F00520065006600390039003500330034003200310030000000 ):

Transformative Revival 1 - Communal Presence: The cause of transformative revival in the city is the overwhelming presence of God among the people of God.

At the same time, revival has to be defined in terms of the relationship of the Holy Spirit and the public square. This I have expressed in the second principle (p 48 08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000080000000D0000005F00520065006600390035003400300038003200300034000000 ):

Transformative Revival 2 - Consummation and Cultural Revitalisation: Revivals progress to consummation in a phase of transformation that involves cultural engagement, with the possibilities of cultural revitalisation if there is a response of public repentance.

Two other principles of theological progressions have been identified:

Transformative Revival 3 - New Theologies: Revival movements are often initiated by a small shift in theological thinking that releases energy for change (Lovelace, 1979:381-383; Pierson, 1985:3a).

Transformative Revival 4 - Necessity of Integrative Theology: Revivals result in long-term societal transformation if they have disseminated theologies that support such an activity (p 73 08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000080000000D0000005F00520065006600390039003500330034003300360035000000 (Orr 1955:95-113, 125)).

The chart in Fig. 2 (p 89 08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000080000000D0000005F00520065006600390039003700370032003700370034000000 ) portrays the processes proposed and some of the principles discussed in this chapter. The theme of the last chapter can be added to the principles already observed:

Transformative Revival 5 - Public Grief-Anger: One of the evidences of a movement being Spirit-filled is grief-anger, when biblical ethics are violated in the public arena (p. 74 08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000080000000D0000005F00520065006600390039003500330034003400380035000000 ).

An interesting paradox of Christian character and the nature of the Spirit is the juxtaposition of this grief and anger with deep love. The revival principle of the release of love in chapter 4 (p. 65 08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000080000000D0000005F00520065006600390035003300370034003400350032000000 ), gives rise to the next proposals concerning love and consensus-seeking, when it is extended from the level of individual revival to societal levels.

Transformative Revival 6 - Increased Love: Transformative Revival within extensive sectors of a city increases love and unity in the public square.

This leads to two corollaries:

Transformative Revival 7 - Consensus Seeking: Transformative Revival unfolds a divine sensitivity to others, greatly enhancing an environment for truth and consensus seeking.

How did I reach this conclusion? In my first years grappling with injustice in the slums of Manila, I taught an analysis on Isaiah 58 that showed progressions towards a righteous society and progressions away from righteousness in Isaiah 59. One of the foundational elements in a good society derived from these passages is the capacity for truth-seeking public dialogue on issues. This enables consensus seeking. Ungodliness entwined with “lying tongues,” causes divisiveness and eventually both oppression and a response of violence in Isaiah 59. The release of love and unity should create men and women with greater capacity and perception towards seeking consensus and truth. James tells us that people of the Spirit move away from dogmatism and absolutism to an openness to reason (3:16, 17).

Dick Hubbard: Social Entrepreneur

Dick Hubbard, businessman, has for some years sought to develop businesses based on social responsibility. Evaluating the behaviour of the previous mayor as unnecessarily abrasive, in 2004 he stood for the mayoralty and won, in order to bring a graciousness into the civic forum. The decision to do so was made with his wife, in the context of seeking God.[2]

Urban Plurality and Citywide Revival

The second corollary has to do with breaking down existing barriers:

Transformative Revival 8 - Reconciliation: Revivals move peoples towards reconciliation, both racial and ecumenical.

There are cultural and economic barriers between cultural groups within any mega-city. In a larger city such as Auckland, several migrant groups are large enough to coexist with others but function largely within their own circles. The revival has generated men and women of the Spirit in Auckland who are actively working to integrate new communities and dialogue with leadership of entrenched cultural groups. Teaching theologies of reconciliation accelerate such processes and surely must be the work of the Holy Spirit.

Called to Reconcile

“I run reconciliation classes for Maori and Pakeha,” she said at the end of a seminar on a Vision for Auckland. “That is wonderful! Who helped you to get into this?” “Just the Lord! I’m charismatic and the Lord began to speak to me about this in pictures, so I just began, then I studied it at university. Now as a lecturer, I give seminars up and down the country.”

This leads to my focus on a postmodern mega-city. In a mega-city, in contrast with the mono-cultural rural town, we need to evaluate the idea of synergies.[3] With the emergence of mega-cities, there are new limitations but also new possibilities of city-wide revival. Transformative revival is not simply an expansion of one revival movement, but involves the impact of synergistic movements on whole cities or cultures.

Historic revival has often been within tribal or people groups such as the Naga people in India, the Maori of the 19th century, the Walamo tribes of Ethiopia (1937-43) or the Welsh Revival of 1904, or uniform cultural contexts where rapid people-movement dynamics have exploded, such as in Korea. In each case, it may be seen as a phase in new cultural interpretations after cultural disintegration or damage.[4]

In contrast, my experience with city leadership teams in many cities gives little evidence of complex, pluralistic cities entering into sustainable transformative revival from a single dramatic event as portrayed in the transformation videos of George Otis, Jr (1999).[5] On the other hand progressions in some cities — the Brazilian cities, Manila, Mumbai, Chennai, Nairobi and elsewhere, indicate the possibilities of synergistic change.

In terms of revival synergy in Auckland the gospel has moved rapidly among migrant mainland Chinese (but less among Taiwanese). Another style of Christianity appears among Koreans and totally independent webs are occurring among Fijian Indians and wealthy, highly educated Tamil and Malayalam migrants from South India. The size of each ethnic or linguistic population limits each movement. Although barriers between them hinder the rapid flow of the work of the Holy Spirit in a citywide movement, I have observed a number of events now where the Holy Spirit is released upon groups of leaders which include people from these diverse cultural backgrounds. There is a releasing of love and a desire to work together.

Transformative Revival 9 - Synergy: Citywide revival movements occur when a synergy develops between web movements in a number of ethnic, racial or social sectors, so that each contributes to the others at crucial points.

The theological and praxis themes being reworked in this study are part of the ongoing global search for such dynamics. Knowles (2004:50-51) discusses factors of reinforcement, referring to social factors in society that reinforce certain elements of Pentecostal belief. I suggest the term can be applied to reinforcement between similar revival movements within the geographic space of a mega-city.

Revival: Necessary Or Sufficient Condition for Transformation?

Popular NZ Pentecostalism holds that revival and subsequent filling of churches automatically results in societal transformation. This view raises the questions, “Is spiritual revival a precursor to societal change movements towards righteousness? To what extent? Under what conditions?”

Latourette (1953/1975: 1019) and others[6] demonstrate a positive relationship between revival, lasting personal moral change and change in public morality. There is also generally not a major societal vision driving revival, except the desire for righteousness in the nation and its leadership and for repentance for its sins. But this has moderating factors. It needed the hard social analysis of Wilberforce and the Clapham sect to follow through and achieve the social change that Wesley began.

I suggest however, that revival is not a necessity for social change. The necessary basis is God’s activity revealed in common grace on good men and women, resulting in societal change towards the highest good. In other words, God’s character revealed in the commonality of human goodness is often manifest in good secular people seeking social change. They may or may not be Christians or godly. Thus:

Transformative Revival 10 - Significance: Revival is a positive factor in societal change towards righteousness.

Transformative Revival 11 - Necessary Condition? Revival is not a necessary condition for elements of transformation but greatly accelerates it and is essential for its completion.

The logic is as follows:

· The work of the Spirit, life-giver of humanity, is essential for societal change towards righteousness.

The Spirit is always active in the common affairs of humankind.

The Spirit is always active in the church to some extent.

  • Thus revival is not a necessary condition for the Spirit’s work in church or community

· However, the work of the Spirit is mightily released in church and community during revival.

During and as a fruit of revivals, the Spirit’s increased activity and freedom to operate accelerates processes of societal change towards righteousness.


Transformative Revival 12 - Sufficient: There is not always a ‘sufficient’ relationship to say that revivals release ‘significant’ positive societal transformation.

This leads to the question, “To what extent do revivals accelerate societal change?” I am suggesting that this has to do with transformation theologies inherent in the revival web of belief. For these social visions are determined by multivariate sources. There are multiple visions, “calls” to activism within revivals. There are also societal visions within the church prior to or subsequent to revivals that influence the speed of social change.

Release of Entrepreneurial Mindset as Source of Transformation

This leads to another set of questions. Among Pentecostals, does the rejection of the “oppression” of traditional theological frameworks (or “theological corruption”) of traditional church structures involve a rejection of oppression per se within the broader society? The global analysis gives no consensus on this issue (Berg & Pretiz, 1996: 162; Martin, 2002: 88-98). Sepulveda, seeking to answer this question in Chile, notes:

Social scientists’ opinion of Pentecostalism is shown among others in the following expressions: opium, domination via religion, religious proclamation of social conformism, “refuge of the masses” (1989:81).

Whether this reflects reality or the presuppositions of social scientists is an open question. However, alignment of Latin Pentecostalism with US Anglo evangelical missionary non-involvement in societal issues would indicate its truth. Personal discussions with Brazilian and other Latin national evangelical leaders, analysing the extent of societal involvement, have identified non-involvement as a major problem. This is a “live and let live” religion.[7]

On the other hand, that is not without relevance. Voluntary organisations build up “social capital” (Ammerman, 1997: 367-8; Greerley, 1990:154-5) through networks between state and individual. In that sense it is a political act simply to create a layer of institutions which could be integrated into an emerging civil society. Likewise, it is a political act to establish free space and to create models of self-government and participation with a flat hierarchy of management (Martin, 1995:29). Emilio Willems (1967), studied Pentecostals in Chile and Brazil and found that their faith helped them overcome anomie (a sense of loss and disorientation). Other anthropologists mention upward mobility through the mutual support system of the Pentecostal faith community, the acquisition of skills through lay participation in church activities, the preference that honesty gives in job hunting and a greater number of self-employed people (Berg & Pretiz, 1996:163-167). To what extent these Latin reflections apply to NZ Pentecostalism is open to debate, but I observe that at least Auckland Pentecostals include a higher number of contractors and entrepreneurial business people, compared with the number of managers and employees I see in the Baptist and Presbyterian churches.

These elements of release of leadership resemble the secular concept of entrepreneurship. It is a crucial component of a transformative revival missiology, which can be extended into different societal sectors. McClelland (1962), building off Max Weber’s understandings of the relationships of religion and economic growth (1963; 1980), analysed the psychological roots of entrepreneurs. He demonstrated that fifty years after religious (Christian or Muslim) revival moves across a country, there is economic peak, as children born in the revival turn their diligence, sense of divine purpose, destiny and perfectionism (holiness), not necessarily to religion alone, but to business. As a result, they rise to be the economic leaders of society. There is another study I read thirty years ago, while studying development in Manila, concerning the psychological roots of entrepreneurs (Hagen, 1971). A suppressed minority in a society, when given freedom will produce highly driven and gifted leaders into upper levels of that society. Would this be true of Evangelicals, with their sense of suppression of morality by Labour’s social engineering?

Thus, the fullness of revival may be manifested in entrepreneurial structures; the biblical terminology is perhaps prophetic and apostolic structures modelling or calling out in the public square for repentance. These then require responses of repentance by city structures and public leadership for the culture to move into a cultural revitalisation phase.

To accelerate the synergy between these, I would suggest three missional elements need to be catalysed by city leadership teams:

· Missional Theology: Revival teachers must be informed by full-orbed transformational theological themes of the city of God and Kingdom.

· Missional Structures: Synergistic city-wide structures must be developed to facilitate interaction between apostolic and prophetic nuclei for societal change.

· Missional Synergy: Transformational movements need to be occurring simultaneously or progressively in different sectors of the church, of the ethnicities, classes and structures of the city, with relational communication between them.

Thus, the following are tentatively proposed:

Transformative Revival 13 - Empowerment: The empowerment processes of revival produce entrepreneurs. The biblical terminology for the primary giftings in such people is prophetic and apostleship.

Transformative Revival 14 - Secular Location of the Apostolate: Entrepreneurs released in revival create not only new churches, but new Christian organisations influencing the secular and new structures in secular careers.

Transformation of Nooks and Crannies

The previous chapters indicate the natural periodic re-emergence of existential charismatic styles of Christianity, with their strange contrast to academic Christian formulations. It is a contrast in style, in content, and in nature of vision. Stylistically, the societal impact of revival movements do not stem from a social vision, finely manicured in sacred halls of learning and gazing into the future. They rather stem from divine encounters, divine empowerment and response to the present.

“Jesus’ ethics is neither a call to repentance in light of an immanent Kingdom nor a blueprint for bringing about the perfect society on earth” (Dempster, 1999:62). Instead, as Richard Neibuhr develops (1963), Jesus’ ethic is a “response ethic.” Indeed revivals seem to be like salt or light in their penetration style. They are a series of dancing stories, responding to contexts. The Holy Spirit is the master of the dance. She utilises multiple theological paradigms in the creation of their synergies.

Fig. : Proposed Web of Belief: Phases of Transformative Revival

Progression of Transformative Revival

Fig. 2 portrays the five phases of transformative revival and some of the elements that occur at each phase (table) and across all phases (repentance, power, love , unity, proclamation). It adds the response of cultural revitalisation and expands the elements in the last phase of the diagram in Chapter 7).

Transformative Revival 15 - Incremental: Transformative revivals are incremental, wending their way or darting their way into the nooks and crannies of society, without necessarily conforming to a global master theology.

On the other hand, there is a tension between freedom of the Spirit and her operation in spiritual leadership.

Transformative Revival 16 - Human Integration: Wise citywide leadership integrates theology and strategy, to maximise synergy and facilitate progressions in revival to social transformation.

Fig 3: Processes at Each Phase of Transformative Revival

Phase of


2. Small Group

3. Structural Renewal


5. Cultural


1. Seeking God in Prayer

Tarrying, confession

Confession and seeking God for renewal of the church

Seeking God for new movements among non-believers

Intercession for the nation

Public prayer by societal leaders

2. Proclamation of Necessity of Repentance

Individual sins

Deep-level sins identified

Church and denominational sins

Grief – Anger (5): Identification of national sins in events expressing public outrage

Public recognition of sins by societal leaders

3. Repentant Response

Personal Repentance

Confessional small group lifestyles releasing deep level sins

Churches and denominations dealing with past hurts and sin

Public repentance by many in the society

Public repentance by many societal leaders, with affirmation by large sectors of the society

4. Presence of God Falling on Groups

Presence of God falling on small groups and churches

Presence of God falling on small groups and churches

Presence of God on large Christian gatherings

Presence of God in large public gatherings (1)

Presence of God on societal leaders (1)

5. Power, Love, Signs, Unity, Proclamation

Power, Love, Signs, Unity, Proclamation

Power, Love, Signs, Unity, Proclamation

Power, Love, Signs, Unity, Proclamation among denominational leadership

Sensitivity ,reconciliation (8) public expression of loving and consensus-seeking behaviours(6,7) and Public grief-anger (5)

Increased love and consensus seeking in the pubic square (6,7)

Reconciliation between ethnic, racial and other divided groups in the city (8)

6. Theological Changes & Information Flow

Baptism in Spirit, spiritual gifts,

Communications centre

Small groups

Leadership based on gifts, movement multiplication principles

Theology of the kingdom, societal engagement, transformative revival (3,4)

Theology of the Kingdom, societal engagement, transformative revival. Class specific theologies of reform, or conflict (4)

7. Leadership Emergence

Prophetic initiation of revival

Group lay leadership training structures

New pastoral, apostolic and prophetic training structures, new Bible Schools

New Christian Institutes, think-tanks and Universities

Empowerment of business and social entrepreneurs (13)

Incremental expansion through common people in nooks and crannies (15)

Leadership that integrates city/national theology, movement structures , movement synergies (16)

Christian transformation principles implemented by secular leaders of societal sectors

Christian leadership in creation of new societal structures (14)

8. Multiplication of Small Groups

Intercessory groups

House groups, Cell groups, Evangelistic groups

Prophetic, apostolic and pastoral leadership teams

Synergy between movements of small groups (9).

Small groups interfacing the Scriptures and societal issues.

Committed Cadres in each sector

Think-tanks in societal sector leadership seeking to implement the Scriptures in building societal structures (14)

Fig. 3 Indicators expanding the eight revival processes into phases 4 and 5 (levels of magnitude) of a transformative revival. (The principles in the preceding chapter are identified in brackets).

Putting It All Together

In this chapter and the last,Fig. 3 I have built from the twenty-four principles of revival/revival movements of chapter 6 by developing sixteen transformative revival principles.[8] This has been framed by reviewing the eight processes of revival that have been identified in Fig 10 and expanding their application from the initiating communal presence (Principle 1) of the Spirit to cultural engagement and consummation in cultural revitalisation (2) in columns 4 and 5 of Fig 14.

These include the sensitivity and reconciliation (8) that the Spirit invokes in communities of believers that results in grief and anger in the public square (5) along with loving and consensus-seeking behaviours (6,7). Such revival empowers and releases entrepreneurs into secular arenas of society. Consummation depends on information flow of new theological paradigms (3) and teaching of an underlying theology of social change (4). It has to do with the release of prophetic and apostolic leaders and empowerment (13) of common people full of the Spirit who incrementally transform the nooks and crannies (15) of society. These are not to be located primarily in the cultic centres (congregations) but in creation of godly social structures (14).

In the new paradigm of transformative revival I have rejected the notion that revival automatically results in city-wide transformation simply through prayer, as (inadvertently?) portrayed by recent marketing from the US. Instead, I have identified that revivals are not always sufficient (12) to release significant positive societal transformation(10) nor necessary (11), since the Spirit also works through common grace. I have expanded revival principles into a theory of incremental (15), seasonal, synergistic (9), city-wide transformative revival.

Leadership is necessary to integrate such progressions of theology, structure and synergies (16). Among the primary gifts initiated and released in revival are those of the prophet. An expanded Pentecostal understanding of the prophetic is now proposed as a further step in developing a theology of the process of transformative revival.



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---. (1995). Wesley's World Revolution. National Review (December 31, 1995), 26-30.

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[1] 15 Feb, 2005.

[2] Summary of a presentation by the mayor’s wife, Jan, 2005 at a Vision for Auckland breakfast.

[3] Synergy is defined here as ‘the combined effect of organisms co-operating together, that exceeds the sum of the individual efforts’.

[4] Martin explores some of the complexities of the relationship of Pentecostal expansion and cultural progressions for Latin America (, 2002:72-82).

[5] Transformations videos from George Otis Jr. (1999), have taken themes we developed in the AD2000 cities network in 1991 (Grigg, 1997d: 78-83) that were subsequently utilised by the US city leaders’ network linking revival to transformation. Otis’ derives his understanding of transformation from Ray Bakke. But he appears to confirm Pentecostal beliefs that simply by prayer, cities can be changed, ignoring the hard work of intense academic study and community organising needed to confront philosophies and the society-building that is required along with God’s interventions and answers. This may be unintentional, more in the limited time frame of the videos and their marketing style. A March, 2005 unpublished paper for a transformations conference in Indonesia, indicates developing understanding of progressions (notes within common document, Bush, 2005).

[6] For example, the chapter on The Spiritual Roots of Christian Social Concern in Lovelace (1979:354-400).

[7] Martin (1990) reviews studies demonstrating that Protestant churches in Latin America promote progress.

[8] These forty principles could have been added to sociologists of religion, Stark and Finkes 99 propositions, (Stark & Finke, 2000: 277-286) as there is a large gap in their theory related to revival. It is difficult to mesh the diverse disciplines. As Berger is quoted to have said, “There is something wrong with any social science that speaks the language of the hope and progress… Good sociology is always sceptical and anti-utopian.” (Dorrien, 2001:26) Despite Stark and Finke’s impassioned plea for a faith-based approach to sociology of religion (pp 11-21), I could not overcome the issue of having premised this study on the reality of the personhood of the Holy Spirit, a theological premise, which is based on a commitment to scripture, and of revival emanating from this person of the Holy Spirit, not simply from sociological forces. Again, sociological use of the word revival is much grander, linked to a global concept of expansions of religious institutions or belief systems, so these few chapters are dealing with a slice of a big pie from wrong presuppositions for compatibility.