At the height of the Second World War the tribal people of Melanesia noticed that where the US forces built wharves and airstrips, ships and airplanes soon arrived delivering the “sacred” shipments of goods and wealth promised by their ancestors centuries before.
As the war ended and the US military bases were dismantled, the islanders reasoned that all they needed to do to keep the ships and airplanes coming was to build their own wharves and airstrips, fully expecting that their own cargo deliveries would swiftly follow suit.
Needless to say, though they constructed runway huts with air-traffic controllers equipped with perfectly crafted wooden headphones and antennas, no planes landed!
They thought that if they put the right technology in place, the planes and ships would arrive. We do the same.
With painstaking effort we investigate the various revival ministries around the world. We research church growth, and try to identify the reason for the success of this mega-church or that ministry. Whole institutions are dedicated to this purpose alone.
All the time we are secretly thinking that if we just build the same “wharves” and “airfields” as this pastor, or imitate the spiritual “technologies” of that teacher, then the heavenly cargo of revival will simply “arrive” in our churches. But all too often no planes land and no ships make port and we are left still waiting for the heavenly blessing. And so it goes, until we hear about a new move of God in another ministry and we try to discover the secret of their success.
When we do this, we are guilty of acting as a cargo cult – imitating “the outward elements of a process or system without having any understanding of the underlying substance.” But revival and renewal aren’t found by copying processes, systems, by imitating the latest speaker or leader, buying books, or attending conferences:
The truth is simple. No move or visitation of God is dependent on a newly discovered doctrine, practice or strategy. It is a matter of a heart desperately seeking and thirsting for God’s presence. It’s a matter of a heart, which meets the right landing conditions for God to come and dwell among His people. Wooden “headphones” will do nothing. God looks for people whose hearts are in constant radio contact with His throne room.
What all the world’s revivals have in common is this: people who desperately yearn for the presence of God. This is true in Africa, South and North America, China or wherever. God might respond by giving specific strategies that correspond to the individual calling and environment of a minister. But to transfer this strategy to your life and city – could be nothing more than a waste of time.
Real life is not found in copying the externals of programs and techniques, no matter how good these may be. Life never comes from these. Real life comes from a move of God that can’t be copied, marketed, or branded.
It’s time to get rid of cargo cult Christianity.