I went to the vault this morning and found an instructive, brief commentary by D.A. Carson titled, “What to Do If Revival Comes” from the January/February 2003 issue of Modern Reformation magazine (many thanks to Andy Naselli for making this available in the exhaustive D.A. Carson bibliography).
In the article Carson recounted a conversation he and his wife had in 1975 with an elderly woman in a Calvinist Methodist church in southern Wales. The woman spoke excitedly of how she had been converted during the Welsh Revival of 1904 to 1905. Carson used this exchange to draw out a lesson from church history:
It was an inexpressibly glorious half hour, and equally sad. For apart from the fruit of that Revival in the lives of those who were immediately touched by it, almost nothing was preserved. That Revival started so well but soon became more eccentric and forced. Worse, despite small efforts later in Swansea, almost nothing was done to capture or develop theological schools, multiply Bible teaching, or train a new generation of preachers.
My interest in revival has not waned with the passing years. Wider reading, and some humbling personal exposure to what God has done in various corners of the world during the past half century, have conspired to forge an unshakable resolution within me. Should the Lord in his mercy ever pour out large-scale revival on any part of the world where I have influence, I shall devote all my energy to teaching the Word, to training a new generation of godly pastors, to channeling all of this God-given fervor toward doctrinal maturity, multiplication of Christian leaders, evangelistic zeal, maturity in Christ, genuine Christian “fellowship.”
This conviction captures well what we are trying to do at The Gospel Coalition. Lord willing, when Revival comes we will be ready to compliment the efforts of the local church to preserve the outpouring of God’s grace for future generations of gospel ministry.