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Words Not Often Used Anymore

I have made it a part time study to find out what words are used in church these days, and which words we have abandoned.


  • Perversion has been replaced.
  • Abomination is rarely used.
  • Judgment is a scary word so we have thrown that one out.
  • Holiness is a difficult concept and is replaced today with self improvement
  • Repentance is often the forgotten ingredient in the salvation story
  • Restitution is misunderstood so we don’t use it.


Another word that I discovered recently is also slowly disappearing from being used in most churches is “revival.”

There are segments of Christianity that still use that word, but it does not have as common of usage as it once did across all Christian denominations and churches.

When I was a younger man and working in the ministry as a pastor, it was our dream objective to see revival break out in our church or in our city. We all prayed for revival at many of our combined pastors’ meetings because we all knew that the church needed an awakening. Now, many years later, the Church is in need of a fresh spiritual awakening even more so now than years ago. I am sure if you sat down with most pastors today many of them would privately confess that a revival would be nice, but because that term is so elusive and the act of revival cannot be predicted nor generated by desire, we have faded away from using it. Many of us only read about the revivals in past centuries where whole communities were affected by the preaching of men by the names of Whitefield, Finny, Moody, and Edwards. Modern revivals such as the Jesus People revival, the Toronto Blessing revival, the Melbourne Revival, Modesto Revival, and the Brownsville Revival and even the Promise Keepers men’s revival have all had their affect on American Christianity. I also would add some of the Billy Graham crusades that went some of them for months. 

Author Pat Morley tabulated 10 characteristics of revival and said that these 10 were the most frequently mentioned characteristics of revivals in literature:

1. TIMING: Revivals emerge during times of spiritual and moral decline, which leads to intense prayer.

2. PRAYER: God puts a longing into the hearts of many to pray for revival.

3. THE WORD: The preaching or reading of God's Word brings deep conviction and desire for Christ.

4. THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Holy Spirit takes people to a spiritual depth they could not achieve on their own.

5. CONVICTION: Affected sinners are inconsolable except in Christ.

6. GLORY FOR GOD: God receives praise, honor, and glory for bringing revival.

7. REFORMATION AND RENEWAL: Revival produces lasting fruit. New ministries are founded and society experiences a reform of morals as more and more people convert.

8. MANIFESTATIONS: Manifestations like fainting, groaning prayer, and miracles vary by culture and denomination.

9. MESSY: Revivals are messy--controversies swirl about miracles, abuses, excesses, suspicions, and theological disputes (to name but a few).

10. CYCLICAL: Revivals inevitably crest and decline.  

I imagine to some there would be a few of these characteristics that would not be desirable, such as the manifestations and the messiness of such a movement.

Yet in the Book of Acts when Paul and the Apostles preached Jesus, all kinds of riots and disturbances broke out.

Whatever the reason for revivals to happen or not to happen has a lot to do with the desire of people wanting to see a spiritual awakening happen in them and their community. I hope we don’t lose that word altogether from our vocabulary, because the desire of having a spiritual awakening and to have that as a constant reminder is a good thing, regardless of some of the messy and crazy things that might happen.

Let’s keep the hope and prayer for “revival” alive among believers. We need a fresh new move of God in America.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

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