By Rik Danielsen
America is in a state of national spiritual emergency, and the only hope we have is to seek God for a great spiritual revival of the churches and an awakening in the land, said Bill Elliff at the 2016 Leadership Conference.
Elliff, senior teaching pastor of Summit Church, Little Rock, Ark., and co-author of One Cry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening, spoke at the morning conference preceding the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at Palm Vista Baptist Church, Surprise, Nov. 18.
“We asked Bill Elliff to come speak at the Leadership Conference this year because our state is 80 percent unchurched and 80 percent of our churches are plateaued or declining,” said David Johnson, AZSBC executive director. “The only hope for changing either of those things is if God sends revival and spiritual awakening to our state.”
Johnson noted that Elliff quoted Richard Owen Roberts’ definition of revival as an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results.
“That is what Arizona Southern Baptists need if we are ever going to see the Centennial Vision accomplished,” Johnson said. “More importantly, it is the only way our state will ever be reached with the gospel. We must continue to pray that God will send revival and spiritual awakening to Arizona and beyond.”
One of the problems we face in getting churches to pray for revival is that in the earlier history of our nation, God sent revival to the land every 50-to-60 years, but we haven’t had a great revival in this country since the very early 1900s, Elliff said. We don’t have any fathers or grandfathers who can share the testimony of great revivals with us, and this has resulted in weak faith and small prayers, he said.
Elliff cited both alarming facts about our culture and encouraging signs for the hope of revival.
In case we needed evidence of the need for revival in the church and awakening in the land, Elliff reminded us of the spiritual and moral problems facing our nation, which include the murder of a million unborn babies every year and the legalization of things God calls sin. The church is in a mess, too, he said. He cited the fact that 6,000 churches are closing every year in America and 50 pastors are leaving the ministry every day.
An encouraging sign, however, is that the level of prayer is rising in America. Elliff quoted David Butts, a national leader in the area of prayer, who says he can verify that there is more praying going on in Christian churches in America than at any other time in our country’s history and that churches are not praying politically. They are praying for revival.
Sherman Fort, pastor of Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, Mesa, led in a closing prayer for racial reconciliation and challenged pastors to go home, gather other pastors and form prayer groups.