In a compelling essay published this week, Tony Dungy and Benjamin Watson are calling Christians to refocus on what’s really important and to usher in a Christian revival in America.
“It’s Long Past Time for a Christian Revival”
On January 11, Dungy, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and an NBC Sports analyst and studio host, and Watson, a former NFL tight end and director of NFL Programs for Pro Athletes Outreach, published A Call to the American Church on Sports Spectrum.
“We don’t know what the future holds, but God called us to follow Him. It’s long past time for a Christian revival in this country.”
In their impassioned plea, they acknowledged the difficulties we all faced during the pandemic.
“The year 2020 has brought school conducted behind screens, schedules that change not week-to-week, day-to-day, or even hour-to-hour, but minute-to-minute. Fewer trips to restaurants and no escapes to the movie theater or ball game. For many, the weekly routine of sitting in a church pew on Sunday morning is gone. How can we not be weary?”
The rest of their essay encouraged Christians to “challenge one another in love and support each other when facing strong headwinds.” They also suggested five ways we can get started becoming better witnesses of Christ.
If this sentiment sounds familiar, it’s a modernization of Hebrews 10:24, which says, “let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
Dungy and Watson’s Charge to the Body of Christ
An important lesson we can all learn from this pandemic is for all of our planning and working towards a secure future, we do not know what tomorrow holds. Ecclesiastes 3 is a wonderful reminder that all things have a time, and season, and God is ultimately in control of it all.
Here are Dungy and Watson’s five charges to the Body of Christ.
Read the Entire Bible From Cover to Cover in 2021
Their first challenge to Christians was to read the Bible, the whole Bible, this year. This may seem obvious to some and completely daunting to others, but there is no better way to get in touch with God’s will for our lives than to be regularly immersed in the Word.
In 2017, PEW Research Center published a study, which revealed only 35 percent, or one third, of Americans read Scripture at least once a week. Worse than that, 45 percent of Americans either seldom or never read Scripture.
The challenge to read the entire Bible is both relevant and timely if a revival is going to take place during this generation.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” This is good advice.
Prayer makes us more like Jesus (He prayed constantly!), shows us God’s heart and helps us make wise decisions.
Dungy and Watson challenge us to pray for our pastors, teachers, politicians, family and friends.
The term “repent” means to “change one’s mind, to go in an opposite direction.” But what does that really mean? In the Christian life we come to a point of repentance once we’re convicted of our sin or missteps, humbly confess to God (and others, when appropriate) and then do a complete 180 degree turn and go the other way.
True repentance compels us to completely stop doing what we were doing, in favour of doing what God is calling us to do.
How do we become aware of our need to repent? Through regular communication with God—consistent Bible reading and prayer.
Return to our home churches
The importance of community cannot be understated. It gives us a sense of belonging and allows us to grow and change through advocacy and support. By being part of a healthy, vibrant Christian community then we’re connected with likeminded people who are committed to seeing us thrive, spiritually, physically and mentally.
One potential consequence of the ongoing pandemic is that we’ll lose touch with our home church community. It may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but a loss like this has a long-reaching impact. Find ways to stay connected to your local community, even if you can’t meet in person.
Give tithes and offerings
While we’re not legally obliged to tithe, and to many it may seem like an Old Testament thing, donating money and giving sacrificially is a biblical concept and an important act in the Christian life.
Tithing to your home church or another charitable organization or missionary supports the needs and work of the ministry. It’s a sacrifice, to be sure, but it allows us to keep perspective on the truth that everything we have is a gift from God and we should be thrilled to share that blessing with others.
In a time when we’re tempted to look inwards and hoard our time, money and resources in case things get worse, this is a strong reminder to look to God for our security rather than in money or possessions.
“As difficult as 2020 has been, God does not guarantee 2021 will be better. This new year will be worse for some of us. But, as Christians, we have to be better.”Tony Dungy and Benjamin Watson