Some of my favourite conversations as Formission Director are the heart-to-hearts I get to have with parishioners and leaders when they pose the inevitable question, “What is Formission about, anyway?”  On these occasions I don’t have to think long about the answer or dig deeply to try to articulate my words.  At its heart, Formission is a plan for sustained revival.  This sermon segment by Charles Spurgeon is instructive for us as we think about what revival and Formission mean:

“A man in sound health with every part of his body in a vigorous condition does not need reviving. He requires daily sustenance, but reviving would be quite out of place. If he has not yet attained maturity growth will be most desirable, but a hale hearty young man wants no reviving, it would be thrown away upon him. Who thinks of reviving the noonday sun, the ocean at its flood, or the year at its prime? The tree planted by the rivers of water loaded with fruit needs not excite our anxiety for its revival, for its fruitfulness and beauty charm every one.

Such should be the constant condition of the sons of God. Feeding and lying down in green pastures and led by the still waters they ought not always to be crying, “my leanness, my leanness, woe unto me.” Sustained by gracious promises and enriched out of the fullness which God has treasured up in his dear Son, their souls should prosper and be in health, and their piety ought to need no reviving. They should aspire to a higher blessing, a richer mercy, than a mere revival. They have the nether springs already; they should earnestly cover the upper springs. They should be asking for growth in grace, for increase of strength, for greater success; they should have out-climbed and out-soared the period in which they need to be constantly crying, “Wilt thou not revive us again?[1]

The vision of Formission is to bring leaders, churches, and disciples to this place envisioned by Spurgeon: not only revived for a season, but in an evergreen state of health and life.  Not crying, “revive us again,” but living in abundant life, flourishing in perpetual growth.  And yet it is evident that the church everywhere is not yet in this state.  Until we are revived, there can be no flourishing.

Sometimes in these conversations, a person will pose an excellent question:  Why are we talking about Formission when what we really need is prayer and the word of God?  They are right, of course, if that is where we are as Christians – in a state of spiritual lethargy, barely alive, in desperate need of new life.  People in cardiac arrest don’t (immediately) need a personal trainer, diet plan, relationship counseling, career coaching, or vocational clarity.  They need CPR.

The very first phase of Formission, “My Health,” begins with CPR, a reestablishment of the fundamentals: Prayer[2], Bible study, solitude, fasting, and the other disciplines.  This is personal, spiritual vitality.  We can’t reasonably grow in relationship with others (Mutual Health), as local churches (Ministry Health), or expect to fulfill the great commission (Missional Health) until we have been revived.

An excellent place to start in determining whether you need revival is the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment[3].  This is a tool that was implemented Fellowship-wide among pastors to assess personal discipleship health, including personal spiritual vitality.  Alongside the assessment, a FREE Steps to Growth Guide[4] has been developed by Formission.  The guide aids the disciple in “reviving:” improving spiritual health by taking steps to grow in specific aspects of our life as disciples.  For example, if you score relatively low in an areas like: “Love for the Word of God,” “Praying without Ceasing,” or “Listening to the Voice of God,” this may be an indication that you need personal revival.

If you have been a disciple for some time and you suspect that you need revival, perhaps you already have a sense of the path you need to take:  Get back to the gospel, to God’s story in your life, to intimacy with Christ and abiding in the vine (John 15), and to earnestly praying for personal and corporate revival.   Indeed, maybe it is time for us to slow down, stop acting as human doings, and focus on being human for a while[5].   Maybe it is time to sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and lives for signs of spiritual unhealth (and spiritual life!).  My prayer as Formission Director is captured well in this powerful song by the Informants:

I want to see difference, in my part of time
Like beauty from ashes, like darkness to light
I want to see wonder, like scriptures of old
Where critics are speechless, and deception erodes  

I want to see healing sweep over this place
I want to see mercy and I want to see grace
I want to see churches fall back to their knees
I want to see justice spread like a disease 

The fruit of salvation
I’m longing to know
Eternities waiting for my love to show
So start in me[6]

References

[1] https://archive.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/wir1866.php

[2] By prayer, I don’t mean prayer need meetings or morning devotions, but rather focused, frontline prayer.

[3] https://discipleshipdynamics.com/  The assessment only costs about $15/person (or $9/person for churches).

[4] http://www.formission.org/resources/steps-to-growth-introduction/

[5] Dallas Willard famously said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.  Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2002/july-online-only/cln20704.html

[6] https://informants.bandcamp.com/track/start-in-me (I changed the “wanna contraction” for the sake of readability).

 

About Jeremy Nippard

Jeremy Nippard is the Director of Formission with the PAONL. He has been in full time ministry for 11 years and lives in Paradise, NL with his wife Cheryl and kids Christyn (9) and Carter (7). He is passionate about discipleship and loves to see leaders and churches becoming healthy and missionally engaged.