Christian Dissonance

Can we still ask questions when revival comes?

I want to start by unequivocally stating that I am for how God started to and continues to move at Asbury during a chapel service last Wednesday.

College was a crucial time in my own spiritual story. And so I’m always happy to see college students experience the same thing.

I’ve also seen many others going to join in on what’s happening in Asbury in order to experience it. And I’m excited to see how it has rejuvenated their faith in real ways.

Overall, I’m always thankful when I see people having genuine encounters with the God who wants to be their friend. And this instance is no different.

But that’s also why I want to share how I’m processing a crossroads of emotions when it comes to naming something a “revival,” the Gen Z as a “chosen generation” insinuations I’ve been seeing, and what in recent years has been inconsistent support (or lack thereof) for various expressions of “revival.”


Because I’m concerned we can find ourselves blinded in these revivalistic situations to the wholeness of what God is doing.

We can find ourselves unwilling to address potential blindness that has been around for a while within contexts we are most familiar with.

We can unintentionally put our hopes in something God does instead of who God is and who He wants us to be.

I’ve spoken to others feeling similar ways but who are nervous about voicing it for fear of coming across as “against” how God is working.

We don’t have these feelings because we don’t long to see God move, or haven’t seen Him move in our own lives and ministry settings – time and time again.

Those I’ve spoken to are not against the movements of God. We are for them. We’ve been a part of them. Most of us still are. Just not in the same box we once used to think God’s movements happened in.

We just have questions about what I’ve been calling spiritual dissonance that seems to exist in the midst of what is happening (and has existed for some time now).

I’ve been defining spiritual dissonance as an inconsistency in behavior, attitude and/or thoughts concerning someone’s (or a group’s) expressed faith statements and what really gets experienced by those around them.

And I actually think if we will deal with the dissonance – instead of ignoring it all out of the fear of offending someone – a revival might genuinely spread farther than it has in a long time.

Don’t think I’m posting these things lightly or hastily. It’s taken me a week to unpack the reasons I’m struggling, and here’s what I’ve talked with Jesus about so far…


I am unsure why we need to label something “revival” so quickly.

Merely 3 hours into the continuous worship service at Asbury we were already seeing this language. Similar worship services are popping up elsewhere and people are immediately calling them “revival.”

Why do we “need” God to be at work in this specific way or measure up to our expectations of such words?

That’s a real point of wrestling for me.

What God is doing is not what I’m questioning. I’m asking why we need it to be “something” instead of just being present to and describing what is happening.

Especially when we mix social media into it, the lines blur between attention grabbing and sharing what’s going on. Definitely once we escalate the language to using words like “revival” and “awakening.” Those are loaded words.

This has been a problem for a long time in the recent American church culture. The use of words that hype things instead of just describe them.

It’s a weird dissonance since we believe in a God who doesn’t need to be hyped.

I’ll be honest, it comes across as us needing God “to move” more than us just needing God alone.

I’ve seen this across the spectrum of denomination and theological preference. This deep need for God to be “at work” as opposed to just allowing God to “be.”

Revival involves a heightened awareness of God’s presence.

Can’t we just be present to that heightened awareness of Him, instead of needing to name it something so quickly?


I’m not sure the things I’ve already seen being spoken over this generation are helpful for them nor actually helpful for spreading “revival.”

I am (in generational terms) an elder millennial.

My generation was spoken over by our spiritual fathers and mothers as if we were a “chosen generation” to bring revival so many times I can’t count.

Remember, we are the WWJD and True Love Waits “purity ring” generation told to be like Jesus in every area of our life.

We are the the Passion Conference’s 268 generation fulfilling the promise of God to raise up a new generation of Christian leaders to change the world.

We are the World Changers, World Race, Charity:Water, TOMS generation (and on I could go listing numerous organizations) that come out of the “change the world” complex we were handed.

We are a generation that popularized youth worship bands and attended packed out youth group conferences across the nation.

We are a generation that has ushered in the era of worship concerts and worship bands becoming chart topping recording artists.

And we are now a generation that is in widespread deconstruction of many of these things.

Being a part of a generation who has experienced all this is why the “Gen Z as a chosen generation” insinuations reveal such a dissonance.

Are we just going to repeat the mistakes with this generation that were made with my generation?

Are things being spoken over them that could lead to the same disillusionment it has for so many in my generation?

Instead, couldn’t we just give them the space to, at their own pace, embrace the work of God in their lives and in the world thru them?

Without it needing to “lead” to something like “revival.”

Can’t we just encourage them and be present to what is happening and not what we desire something to become?


Probably the largest reason for my mixed emotions deals with a cultural bias that I can no longer look past in the church world.

Actually, it’s the blindness of not being able to see a major cultural bias that continues to be present in many quarters of Christ’s body.

One example of it relates to what happened just a couple years ago when revivals were breaking out on the streets. In the midst of the protests and pain of racial injustice, we were seeing worship services, salvations, baptisms, miracles. The reports of what was happening were amazing!

But I didn’t see my social media feeds blow up with the same excitement about those moves of God in the same way it is with the current one. Instead I saw skepticism and cynicism.

I didn’t see many of these same church leaders and people flocking to those revivals like they’re flocking to this one. Instead I saw discouraging remarks or at best distant platitudes offered.

I have many thoughts on why, but I’ll only share just a few.

It’s easy to support a “revival” when it fits into the box of the cultural expectations we have as to how “revival” should come.

Of where we’ve been taught God should be moving.

Of whom we’re used to expecting to see God at work among.

Of historically who we’ve become accustomed to “revivals” as starting with.

Of politically who we’ve been influenced to believe are the real Christians who must have the Holy Spirit.

I’ll be blunt: this current “revival” fits the right box for majority white American church culture.

It started at a majority white Christian college, in their chapel, expressed thru an ongoing time of worship and personal confession and scripture reading and such.

It fits. Its comfortable. It’s normative.

But because it’s firmly planted within a specific set of cultural expectations, it’s also disconnected from how God has been at work among His people who do not see those specific cultural settings as normative.

There are other “moves of God” and “revivals” that have been happening across various church circles, that don’t check this same cultural box, all over the country for a while now.

Many in those circles have been experiencing such movements for decades even.

Maybe you haven’t seen or heard about them because they don’t fit in the box that would get the approval or attention of majority culture.

Maybe they just happened in places that didn’t get the same coverage as this one is getting.

But they’ve been just as real. And just as “revivalistic.”

Spontaneous prayer vigils going for days.

Worship services that last however long they need to.





Altars flooded.

The Spirit moving.

Some of these things are even normative in church cultures that the majority white church culture has struggled to fully embrace.

And yet when they happen in these cultural contexts that aren’t normative to majority church culture – the same support, acknowledgement, social media frenzy, and flocking to be a part doesn’t seem to follow.

This reveals a blindness.

A blindness along the lines of cultural preference. It’s a cultural bias. And we can say it’s cultural because it’s not cultivating a unified community.

It’s a bias that has kept us siloed and consistently isolated from others who are also members of the one body of Christ.

If we’re honest, this blindness is not about whether something is a “revival” or not – but rather whether God is moving in the way and among the people I’m comfortable with or not.


I will continue to struggle with all 3 of these areas of spiritual dissonance, while also praying for a continued experience of God’s presence in what is happening. Not just at Asbury, but all over the Church.

I won’t let any of these feeling keep me from continuing to pray that what is happening would spread.

It’s not an either-or for me.

But it is an acknowledgment of the reality of these things.

And of the crossroads of my own life experiences, cross-cultural relationships, and ministry contexts.

I am not against what is happening.

I am not skeptical of it.

It’s genuine.

And I am for it.

But I also just can’t act like these other things aren’t still very real at the exact same time.

Or else I wouldn’t be true to what the Spirit of God has been “reviving” in my own relationship with Him and His people for decades now.

See, I was a part of a church that experienced a year and a half long revival when I was a teenager. You’ve never heard of it, just as most of us never hear of most of these things.

And then just last month I spent a weekend leading a retreat with Gen Z teenage guys where we saw the Spirit move in powerful and humble ways, just as we’re seeing at these colleges.

I’ve experience a number of “revival” moments throughout my life. That sort of movement of God is a part of my lived experience.

So my struggle is not with the work of God happening right now in peoples lives. It is with the dissonance that seems to continue to remain unaddressed in many of these settings.

My goal is not negativity. But it is honesty.

I don’t know what God’s plans are.

I hope it’s to spread “revival” across all our lives. Across all our churches. Across our nation and our world.

If I didn’t want that, I wouldn’t be a part of an international prayer movement seeking that very thing.

So, seek “revival.”

Go to Asbury or expect it right where you are.

But also be cautious about the expectations you place on God and others concerning such things. And make sure to look for it even when it doesn’t fit into your expected cultural box.

God is with us. He has always been.

In the “revivals” we’ve experienced.

In the ones we’ve overlooked.

And in the everyday ways that never get called “revival.”

My plan is to stay true to the path He’s got me on and pray for those on the path He’s got them on.

And hopefully all of our paths will cross, and all of our dissonance will be resolved, into a beautiful unity that leads to widespread revival.

May it be so, Lord.

May it be so.

About the author

Drew Anderson

Son. Brother. Husband. Father. Friend. Mentor. Spiritual Director. Consultant. Coach. Student. Communicator. Organizer.

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