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As much as we would like to see the opposite, movements of God among men don’t last forever, unfortunately. There seems to be a predictable pattern of God moving in wonderfully miraculous ways. Then over time, the movement dies out, and a new fresh work of God starts in another group of men and women. Church historians use the word ‘revival’ to describe these fresh works of God and how exciting they are! Over the years, there have been many revivals and movements of God that have faded away. They left the simplicity and truth of the gospel. Sadly, the leadership didn’t even notice. They didn’t care. 

The Calvary Chapel family of churches is a part of a move of God that the Hollywood Free Paper coined as the “Jesus Movement,” a modern-day revival among the hippies of the late 60s and early 70s. Much has been written on the topic, but it’s enough to say that we have enjoyed the outpouring of His Spirit in beautiful ways.

Yet history teaches us that many spiritual movements, even solid and vibrant ones, fizzle out and lose their effectiveness. It’s unfortunate to read about, and no one wants to be a part of a movement that is fading away into obscurity.

Years ago, Pastor and author Vance Havner shared insights on the predictable and avoidable pathway of destruction for movements of God. I’ve used his points as a guide to help us avoid irrelevancy in our ever-changing culture.

#1 – Movements of God start with a man.

Whether it be a Luther or a Wesley, God finds a man who wholly sold out to Him, and then God pours Himself into that man to reach His generation and beyond. There is nothing wrong with that man or His God-given calling. His humble surrendered posture makes him available and usable to God. This relationship between God and a man fulfills the open-hearted search of God on the earth.

2 Chron 16:9a (NKJV) For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. 

#2 – God uses that man to start a movement.

The man, whose heart is captured by the love of God, begins to serve in ministry surrounded by like-minded men and women committed to Jesus. He begins to go forward, trailblazing a new work, laboring in love. God’s grace is poured out upon him. Massive amounts of people get saved! Lives are changed. Families rescued. Addicts become sober. It’s a glorious time. This new work is often directly in the face of the religious establishment of the day. The man and His ministry, surrounded by literally 1000’s new converts, are criticized, ostracized, and minimized. Apparently, God doesn’t care, and he continues to pour out His blessings on the movement.

Acts 2:17 (NKJV) ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

#3 – The movement of God becomes a machine of men.

This is a sad turn of events. The man’s passion is drowned out by the work, by the expansion, by the tendency of man to formalize and box in the work of God. Other men’s voices that supposedly represent the man start to rise, misrepresenting the original work of God in the movement. Formality and legalism begin to take root, and instead of a move of God, it becomes a machine of a man. What was begun in the Spirit is being completed by the flesh of man. Yes, there is still ministry happening. Yes, people are still being reached but at a much slower pace than ever before. Something was lost along the way. There is still the name, but without the mighty move of His Spirit as long before.

Gal 3:3 (NKJV) Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

#4 – The machine of men becomes a monument to the man.

Because there is a sense that things are not what they used to be, men begin to build monuments celebrating the past. Precious energy is diverted and ultimately wasted in propping up the man and his ministry in the movement from years ago. While the focus was once solely on Jesus, it has become Jesus and the man He used, thus diluting the effectiveness of reaching the lost. Instead of asking questions to God in prayer on how to reach the current generation, phrases like “remember the good old days” are often heard. The man is often mentioned more than the God of the movement. It was so good back then. The real danger of the ‘Monument’ ministry is that if and when the Spirit of God wants to move or shift or guide or direct in a completely different direction, the monument cannot be moved. It will not be moved! It’s set in stone! And the whole process begins over again as God looks for a man to pour Himself into.

John 6:32-33 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

#5 – The monument to a man becomes a mausoleum (graveyard). 

The final stage of a movement of God’s end is the appearance of life but the reality of death. It’s just not a movement of God any longer and hasn’t been for some time. This is where resistance to change settles in. While looking back on the past, methods and methodologies are worshipped. They are often given the same attention or more than the Bible! Things that are set in stone die!

Before you quickly dismiss these well-established steps consider the final words of Jesus to the church in the ancient city of Sardis, “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Rev 3:1 (NKJV)

Apart from God’s Spirit, we can do nothing. Apart from the life of God, we are just a gathering of people, filling buildings, talking about the past, but making little to no impact on the lost. No one wants this! Some of the largest houses of worship across Europe are simply big, cold, empty, musty buildings. Even Denver churches have been converted to bars, dance clubs, condominiums, and even modern art museums!

That’s why we must be careful to keep our eyes upon Jesus. He alone heads up His movements on the earth. I’m grateful for the insights of Vance Havner and consider myself warned.

Lord help us.



  • Joe Gonzales says:

    With everything you wrote, the falling away I feel that the wheat and the tares living together are easily manipulated. Job was physically influenced by satan with the boils and scars, today we see great movements of irrationality. satan also influences our minds right? Can we hear his whisper of suggestions, us claiming them our own thoughts?

  • Scott says:

    Pastor Ed,
    All I can say is, “Wow! What a word!”
    I too take heed the word of warning and I also pray that the Lord would keep my mind (our minds) stayed on Him; not focused on any one man, save the Son of Man, Jesus.
    How easy it is for us to fall and follow these 5 steps into “nothingness”.
    I know that God is working across this country, establishing and making us ready for the greatest revival we’ve ever seen or encountered; but then reading your article, I ask the Lord to establish it and not let our simple-minded selves get in the way of His greatness.
    Often times, I hear or read, “The best is yet to come!” and I believe it with my whole heart; however, I just hope that I can influence others so they too will understand and believe what that actually means.

    Thanks for the exhortation and prophetic word. Be blessed, in all you do and stay focused on Him as you remind us to do the same.

  • Bruce Westlund says:

    Heartbreaking. It alsos warns me as an individual: I must die DAILY. Day-old manna is rotten and I’ll quickly forget that only God is the Source and Sustainer of any work He began, whether in me, our local church or a movement.

  • Brian Jones says:

    Please tell me the book from Pastor Vance Havner that this article was taken from.

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