Whereas, “transforming revival” refers to the overall process of change that occurs in a spiritual awakening at a societal level, the term “transformation” describes the impact of the process manifested in people, families, congregations, community, and land where they live.
The concept of “transformation” is rich in meaning. In Scripture the word “transformation” is metamorphos (Greek) and refers to a process of change, literally from one form or condition to another. Spiritually, in Christ, we are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another with “ever increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18,
Rom. 12:2, Matt. 17:2, Mark 9:2). From this same root word we get “metamorphosis.” We most commonly think of metamorphosis in relation to the transformation process of a butterfly, which is an amazing parabolic picture of God’s transformation for our lives.
The transformation of communities goes beyond church growth strategies, evangelistic initiatives, or a church-centered revival. Although rapid and substantial church growth and evangelism are an important part of corporate community transformation, they do not fully define transformation. George Otis, Jr. remarks: “For the term transformation to be properly applied to a community, change must be evident not only in the lives of its inhabitants, but also in the fabric of its institutions. In the end, it is dramatic social, political, and even ecological renewal that sets these cases apart from common experience.”2
This doesn’t mean that a transformed community becomes a perfect community, any more than a revived church is a perfect church. But perfection is not the measure of transformation. A transformed community may not perfect but neither can it be mistaken for its former condition. Transformation is much like sanctification: it is both an event and a process. Communities that have been impacted by God’s presence and power should be measured not by what they still lack but by what they once were.3
After traveling the globe documenting transformed communities and closely examining over 900 case studies, George Otis Jr., defines community transformation as:
A neighborhood, town, city or nation whose values and institutions have been overrun by the grace and presence of God. It is a place where divine fire has not merely been summoned, it has fallen. It is a culture that has been impacted by the full measure of the Kingdom of God [before future eschatological fullness]. A society in which supernatural power flows like a river of molten lava altering everything and everyone in its path. 4
Supernatural Versus Natural Transformation
While the word “transformation” has many applications, there are basically two primary distinctions when it comes to community transformation: supernatural transformation and natural transformation.
There is a distinct difference between a reformed society and a supernaturally transformed community. Transformation is not social, political, or religious reform. Transformation is not synonymous with evangelism; evangelism is the fruit of revival, not the means to create revival. We must not confuse evangelistic strategies with hosting God’s presence unto transforming revival.
It is not possible to have supernatural transformation of a community without believers first experiencing authentic revival from heaven. Transforming revival is a corporate revival that brings supernatural impact on a community because of the manifest presence of a supernatural God. Though we may be willing partners in this process, God must be the author of it. Since God is the author of transforming revival, it will be characterized by both His supernatural presence and the supernatural fruit of His presence.
Participants in supernatural community transformation are keenly aware that the systemic problems communities are facing cannot be resolved with human wisdom or methodologies. Human strategies will never produce supernatural change. Man’s solutions are temporary at best and usually flawed.
Man’s resources are limited and insufficient in themselves to solve the desperate needs of people and their communities. Our resources only become sufficient when they are submitted to our supernatural God who is infinite and unlimited. God has provided a redemptive answer that goes to the root of the issues and brings comprehensive change for communities through His presence and glory.
Ministry in the Western world usually reflects a natural (not supernatural) transformational approach. Natural or man-based transformation is a process that man can manage or control. People assess the desperate needs of communities, then take an inventory of available resources, and finally allocate those finite resources to address the needs. Some change or improvement may result from the natural approach, but it will only be a temporary solution for a limited number of people.
We face the constant reality that man-based transformation is never enough. It is simply scratching the surface as the needs in our communities continue to multiply and spiral out of control because of sin.
Man’s best intentions, sacrifice, and resources are simply not sufficient to meet the needs communities are facing today. While it is commendable to alleviate some suffering where possible in the natural realm, a natural approach cannot resolve the root problems which are spiritual in nature and continue to proliferate and continue to oppress our society.
Pervasive conditions such as sexual immorality and perversion, domestic abuse, violence, shedding of innocent blood, ruthless political schemes, governmental corruption, social injustice, prejudice, racism will never be resolved through natural means!
The devastation prevalent in our communities is rooted in spiritual causes and therefore cannot be resolved by a man-centered approach. For example, if generations have offended the Lord by continuing in sins like immorality, idolatry, and shedding of innocent blood, the darkness and defilement that follows for a community cannot be remedied by a natural transformational effort.
When God transforms people, society, and land, He has a higher purpose and unlimited resources to accomplish community transformation for His glory. God’s mercy and supernatural ability to resolve and even reverse societal problems is infinitely greater than our ability or desire to do so.
God does not have to strive to resolve issues man cannot solve. God is able not only to provide pure water out of polluted water, He can also can bring it out of rocks as He did for Israel in the wilderness and has recently done for people in Brazil! He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). His solutions are perfect and powerful!
When there is a polluted river (the main water source) flowing through a community, there are two approaches to remedying the problem. The human approach would be to build a water-processing plant to purify the polluted water so it is usable for the people. The supernatural solution begins by identifying the root reason why the land is polluted and applying God’s instructions for healing the situation. In Scripture and in hundreds of transformation testimonies, God brings healing supernaturally when the root causes are identified and dealt with.
In so doing, the Lord not only corrects the physical problem, His supernatural intervention and care results in redeeming people and land for His glory! A natural approach may bring an immediate remedy physically, but it does not deal with the spiritual issues necessary for God to redeem lives for His glory.
Biblical Scope of Transformation
The Biblical scope of transformation includes the lives of individual believers, transformation of the church (the Bride), transformation of spheres of society and the transformation of the land. The redemptive promise and purpose of God evidenced in the transformation process is not small, limited or temporary.
On a personal level, God transforms our lives through regeneration and the renewing of our minds. Paul speaks of the believer’s entire life being transformed by the renewing of the mind through the Word and by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:2).
On a family level, God brings reconciliation and forgiveness as repentance occurs and root systems of sin are uprooted. As families return to covenant obedience with God and each other, relationships are restored, prodigals return home, and healing occurs.
On a congregational level, God restores first-love devotion, roots out religiosity, and replaces it with genuine spiritual life and power. When the transforming power of the gospel impacts believers collectively, it makes possible the transformation of the community spiritually, morally, and socially.
The transformation of individuals, their families, and congregations will lead to the transformation of the society, including land and ecology. The transformation of a village, community, region, or nation never begins at the corporate level. God first works in the hearts of believers. God transforms believers internally before He moves in a community externally.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit will be at work in the hidden places of believers’ hearts, in their families, realigning congregations with His purposes, etc., long before transformation of the community becomes evident. Long-lasting transformation of a community never occurs separate from transformation at the personal, family, and congregational levels. God works from the inside out!
Transformation & Redemptive Fullness
In the God-directed progression of present redemption and revival history, the pace has accelerated as we move toward the ultimate culmination of this age. As we get closer to the return of Christ, we are seeing a fuller measure of transformational impact than ever before in history. This supernatural transformation is not simply of individuals being redeemed, but also involves a fuller redemption that now encompasses entire communities, all spheres of society, and even the land itself.
Why would God bring redemptive transformation even to land and the natural order before Christ returns? Clearly God is making a powerful statement about His Lordship over creation and His glory in all the earth. Supernatural transformation today among the nations is a also a more extensive expression of God’s redemptive intention than the church has seen thus far in her history.
Twenty-first century revival is unlike any previous revival era and yet is in continuity with all that has preceded. Contemporary revival among the nations with its supernatural transformational fruit is an eschatological sign of the approaching fullness of redemption to be finalized when Christ returns to transform the whole earth into an arena for His glory (Hab. 2:14; Isa. 35; Isa. 65:17–18; Rev. 21:22–24). Transforming revival is therefore not a passing trend and is not something we can ignore. It is an eschatological sign that must not be ignored because it signals that the full manifestation of God’s glory and the fullness of redemption is at hand.
The transformation that we are witnessing in the nations today is the firstfruits of the fuller transformation of people and land that will occur when Jesus returns to reign as King over the nations. At that time Jesus will reconcile all things in Himself. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him [Christ], and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1:19–20).
Copyrighted by Fusion Ministries, all rights reserved. Above excerpt taken from “REVIVAL – It’s Present Relevance and Coming Role at the End of the Age” by Wes Adams and Rhonda Hughey. Available in Fusion Bookstore visit our store.