“Going viral” is a term that, well, has gone viral. It carries the connotation that something is being passed among people like a virus–or in Old Testament terms, “a plague”! Revivals always eventually go viral. In fact, it can’t be called a revival without this phenomenon. Genuine revival cannot be contained by city limits, socioeconomic status, or denominational preferences. It spreads like an airborne contagion, resisting attempts to suppress, repress, or keep it in check.
Before a move of God goes viral, however, there must be a tipping point. In physic,s a tipping point at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new, dynamic state. Spurgeon says, “Revival is a season of glorious disorder.” Predictability goes out the window. When God sends revival, He doesn’t come to mesh into our religious routines. He comes to overtake us with this power and presence. In climatology, a tipping point is the point at which the global changes irreversibly from one state to a new state. In revival, Heaven seizes the spiritual climate of a region and brings a divine charge that is transforming. Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point in sociological terms: “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” It’s the name given to that one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once. At tipping point is often a turning point. I also believe that tipping points are the flashpoints in time when something goes mainstream.
Jonah had at least a couple of developments that constituted his tipping point for the Nineveh Awakening. My vote for the ultimate moment was when Jonah talked to God from the belly of the swimming beast:
So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. (Jonah 1:15-2:1)
In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell cites three dynamics that cause a phenomenon to reach a tipping point that makes it go viral:
- The Law of the Few
- The Stickiness Factor
- The Power of Context
According to Gladwell, these are the mechanisms by which certain things achieve exponential popularity. For the dynamic of revival, I want to rename them:
- The Carrier
- The Contagion
- The Climate
1) The Carrier
In biblical accounts of revival in the Old Testament, each one began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energizing power behind it–a Carrier. The Carrier is the individual catalyst who champions and embodies the revelation before it goes mainstream. This person connects the concept of revival to people and represents a walking Website of what Heaven wants to release. These catalysts become “super infectors” who cause God’s move in its infancy to the epidemic, and eventually massively epic, as they yield to God’s Spirit.
2) The Contagion
The Gospel of the Kingdom knows no parallel when it comes to impact and infiltrating the core of one’s being with extraordinary power. The history of revivals clearly illustrates that its fire spreads supernaturally from heart to heart and person to person.
3) The Climate
The Climate is the background, circumstances, or historical moment in which a pre-revival seed “tips” into a revolutionary, epoch-shaking dynamic.
The Third Person of #TeamTrinity
The dominant force of the tipping point in revival is the Person of the Holy Spirit. Though the Azusa Street Revival seemed to feature the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit engineers all aspects of revival. James Stewart rightly says,
There can be no revival apart from the Holy Spirit; He is the author of every Heaven-sent movement.
Many times in revival, the third Person of the Trinity will get heightened recognition as a Person. If we think of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force, we will never develop a relationship with Him. If we see Him as just power, we will just try to use Him. We must see Him as our heavenly Counselor, and His wisdom must be sought out and obeyed. So often we just go with the preplanned program and miss what the Holy Spirit is attempting to do. The highest priority of those in leadership must be a continual openness to the mind of the Holy Spirit.
This is a book excerpt from I Am Your Sign: The Secret to Unleashing Revival and Igniting a National Awakening by Sean Smith. You can get your own copy of I Am Your Sign today and also connect with Sean through his website, Facebook, and Twitter @RevSeanSmith and @PointBlankIntl!