Jesse Barber/ New York Times

Asbury University Chapel is packed on February 17th, even 11 days after the service started.

21st Century Revival

"Jesus is alive and well and living in the radical spiritual fervor of a growing number of young Americans who have proclaimed an extraordinary religious revolution in His name" -Time Magazine 1971

March 10, 2023

What was intended to be an hour-long chapel service at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, gradually turned into a two-week worship service.

On the morning of February 8, 2023, a brief worship music set and announcements regarding on-campus events preceded preacher Zach Meerkreebs’ message. He stood before roughly one hundred students, starting service like any other day. Meerkreebs continued a teaching series titled “Love in Action” from the previous week. His sermon centered around Romans 12, which emphasizes the importance of serving God and loving one another. Little did he know that this would be the predecessor of a two-week-long worship service in a world where traditional Christianity seems to be pushed aside for a modern way of thinking. The “Asbury Revival” has inspired many other colleges to allow God to move and spark a spiritual awakening within Gen Z.

Students pray for one another in Asbury University’s chapel (vladhungrygen via facebook)

The service was on target to end an hour later before many of the student’s classes began. As the preacher made conclusive remarks, a few students stayed behind in the chapel to pray. They prayed for their family, friends, and the current state of the world. Hours passed as the students, now joined by their friends, talked to God about their concerns. Some were kneeling, some had their Bibles open, and a few sang worship music onstage. Many felt called by God to continue praying and worshiping as they began to see hearts around them become change.

Word traveled of the tenacious worship of Jesus Christ, causing thousands of on-campus students to flock to the Christian-affiliated college’s chapel. The administration began to notice after 24 hours that classes were near empty. They canceled classes until further notice. As social media has a hand in every aspect of our lives, students from inside the chapel began posting videos of the service on Tik Tok, sparking energy in a generation that previously seemed distant from God… until now. Thousands traveled to the university to experience the Holy Spirit moving through the building. Many made first-time professions of faith. A service led by Generation Z poses the question: Is this the start of a new Great Awakening?

The service and worship at Asbury University lasted for 15 days, reaching thousands of people both online and offline. A line to get into the chapel spanned half a mile, the people worshiping and enjoying the presence of the Lord in their midst. Gen Z led the service, and although the service had to be ended for the students to continue with classes, it certainly was not the end of praise. The “Asbury Revival” has continued to spread to other schools, as the university is not the only place where individuals are fervently turning to God. The passion from Asbury University spread to Cedarville University in Ohio, then to Lee University in Tennessee with nonstop worship. Spiritual awakening has been proven by history to be contagious. It has been said before that Gen Z can create change. This is similar to the way many generations have in their youth.

“The revival has opened my eyes to see that our generation is hungry and desperate for God. God poured His presence out on His children. It is easy to get wrapped up in all the negatives of this world, but the series of revivals have only encouraged me to stand firm and rooted in God.”- Amaia Onque Shabazz ‘23

Many prominent Great Awakenings throughout history have shaped the way Americans perceive organized religion and faith, the most recent being in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It formed a shift in the way that worship music was created, modernizing and popularizing worshiping God.

A hippie holds up a sign promoting the love of Jesus. During the time, hippies rallied for peace within a person; however, this woman promotes peace found in Christ. (The Baptist Paper )

Recently, a movie came out revolving around the Fourth Great Awakening titled “Jesus Revolution.” The movie’s events covered the widespread inclusivity of people in the churches. The Third Great Awakening in the 1850s–1900s was brought to life by newly formed denominations and active missionary work. The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival in the United States during the early 19th century. Many during this time worked to reform prisons and care for the handicapped and mentally ill. The First Great Awakening began in the 1730s and lasted roughly ten years. This revival paved the way for the United State’s protection of religious freedoms which is still in effect today.

With a summary of each Great Awakening, we can see patterns reflected in today’s society. The First Amendment in the American Constitution protects freedom of religious expression. Many preachers today visit prisons in hopes of reformation of each person in the prisons. In addition, they actively work in the missionary field, spreading The Gospel (The story of Jesus) to countries around the world where Christianity is a less practiced religion. Worship is not happening inside church walls, it is happening on college campuses. Gen Z is the future of the church.

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