A year ago, I saw the cure for casual Christianity.
On February 8, 2023, a routine 50-minute chapel at Asbury University turned into a 16-day event that captured attention around the world.
I streamed the service from my office that morning. After a message from the speaker, a student gospel choir closed in song. I left my computer and proceeded to my next meeting. Later, as I was preparing for lunch, my wife texted me that some students were still praying and worshiping in Hughes Auditorium.
More students came. Then more.
Over the next few weeks, what the university’s leadership described as an “outpouring” grew exponentially to an estimated 50,000 visitors who descended upon our two-stoplight town in central Kentucky. They overflowed into simulcast sites hosted at the neighboring seminary and local churches. They knelt and prayed and sang on the cold ground of our wide campus green.
Asbury archivist Charlotte Staudt has identified over 250 podcasts, 1,000 articles, and dozens of sermons and conference sessions addressing what happened. More than 100 local, national, and international media outlets visited our campus. There have been approximately 250 million social media posts related to #AsburyRevival or #AsburyRevival2023. I have never seen such a collection of men and women from all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities stirred, seeking, repentant, and unified.
Throughout it all, the internet swirled with debate over what defined a revival and whether the events at Asbury qualified as one. Comparisons were inevitably made to prior revivals at Asbury, most notably the one in 1970. These are fair discussions. Words like revival, renewal, and awakening carry nuanced theological and historical significance.
It may ultimately fall to historians to catalog the long-term …