(This is the second post for today so you may want to read Installment #4 below)
One of the biggest problems I see for a congregation moving to embrace revival is any form of institutional pride. It is also the stumbling block that can stop a revival in its tracks.
What I mean is any sense of entitlement, achievement, legacy, nostalgia, "arrivalism", or satisfaction may be a symptom of group pride which suppresses the seeker mentality and striving forward to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us. One of the hardest tasks is to not allow the blessing of "success" (and this doesn't have to mean crass temporal garbage like numbers and contribution, but real work that God does in us) to be a stumbling block toward additional movement.
I guess this is where a hungering and thirsting is essential, and where complacency must be banished. The goal to which we strive must not only be theologically defined but must be beyond satisfaction. The church growth movement is shot through with temporal goals manageable and achievable on human terms. There is nothing more aimless than a church which achieved its dream and now flounders for a new sense of purpose. Usually they just add superlatives to the original goal - more of everything.
Theologically driven congregations seek relationship with God, likeness with the Son, and filling with the Spirit. The mysterious here is sufficient to keep pride at bay, and a spiritual hunger and thirst alive. If humility is the beginning for a personal spiritual journal (see how the opening chapters of Thomas Kempis' Imitation of Christ and Fenelon's Forty Spiritual Letters begin here) it is foundational to congregational journeys as well. Without humility, it is hard for us to receive grace.
The question, then, for someone desiring to spark a revival, is how to subvert the complacency that results from any hints of congregational pride and to encourage a humble longing for God. If there is pride it flourishes in wrong goals, because longing for God is satisfied only by the inexhaustible person of God.
I am not suggesting that there is no satisfaction in seeking God, but only that longing for the Triune God is a unique endeavor in human existence because it offers genuine rest while never displacing the restless desire for God. We are filled while still hungering and thirsting. But this is not frustrating, because our desire for God leads to more filling. This paradox is only found in the mystery of relationship with God. This is the only goal for an individual or congregation that remains fresh, giving peace without complacency; satisfaction without sterility.
The one working for revival must help people acquire a "taste" for God so they see that He is good. This must coincide with cultivating a distaste for anything else - particularly the achievements of human effort. Even the gifts of the Giver should never satisfy. Undermining congregational and institutional pride is difficult, particularly when the accomplishments that are the objects of pride are the works of God himself. Glorying in the exodus instead of the God who wrought the exodus does little to prepare people for the wilderness.
I don't know how to actually communicate this . . . except to talk about it, draw the distinctions, live the proper orientation of longing for the immanent/transcendent God, and pray for the grace to be given for a congregation to taste God. A humble congregation that regards as refuse all human accomplishments and is careful not to confuse the blessings with the Blessor, will pursue the One who pursues them - satisfied but always wanting more. I believe that renewal will define their journey.