God whispered the word “resurgence” to me. A resurgence is a rising again of God’s Spirit—renewal, revival, a restoration of use. It is the DNA of our Pentecostal heritage. The history of a movement 100 years old was a people encountering the Holy Spirit in a fresh way and pioneering new works.
Growing up in a flagship Pentecostal church, I had an encounter in my teens that made me realize the gospel wasn’t just words on a page but an invitation to encounter the living God. The Holy Spirit wasn’t some liturgical concept; He was a real person. That moment changed everything for me. I started to observe the system of church and ministry up close. I saw an emphasis on programs, structures and strategies, with less and less priority on encountering God. Young adults were becoming disengaged, two-thirds of the children raised in the church were leaving in their young adult years1, and pastors were burning out looking for ways and methods to engage them.
In 2008, while I was involved in organizing national youth conferences, and prior to that working as an engineer in the oil and gas sector, God began to stir this concept of a resurgence. At the time, I didn’t even know what the word meant, but when I read the definition, it described the deep desire He had placed in me.
I gathered with a team of young adults to pray into the word “resurgence.” We rented a theatre in the centre of Edmonton to gather for three consecutive nights. We called the gatherings “Resurgence.” I remember standing in that theatre praying before anyone came in. God spoke to me, saying, “This isn’t about a night or an event, but a lifestyle—this is a call to a generation to live a Spirit-filled life every day.” Over 300 young adults attended that first night, and it sparked something that 10 years later we are still stewarding.
God birthed a movement that has now transcended over 14 denominations/fellowships and hundreds of different churches. We have seen many souls saved, lives transformed, and young adults empowered as leaders to live a Spirit-filled life in their spheres of influence. The dream is: “Canada will be saved.” We want to see a resurgence in cities across the nation. We are resurrection people who, deep in the fabric of our being, know that Jesus is rising again in every part of this nation. Resurgence isn’t just a brand or a proprietary thing we do; it is a vision rooted deep in the heart of God for a generation.
Perhaps today we hear and read about the post-millennial generation and become overwhelmed as leaders by how God has called us to reach them. It can sometimes seem hopeless. Ezekiel found himself in a similar situation, looking out over a desert of dry bones2 where God performed a miracle: a resurgence. That is what His heart longs for in our churches, communities and cities.
We found these four areas as key to seeing a resurgence in the lives we lead:
Be Vulnerable: Ezekiel saw a valley that was filled with really dry bones. I am convinced that unless we are willing to admit we are dry, God can never bring an Ezekiel to our valleys to speak life and prophesy breath. The key is vulnerability. An emerging generation is looking for leaders who are vulnerable enough to admit weakness and allow Him to make us strong. Even when we are full of His breath, our vulnerability allows us to be made lesser and Him bigger. Real people desire to follow real leaders.
Focus on the Encounter: There is one thing God has taught me: an encounter changes everything. Encounter transcends denominations, intellect, religion and hopelessness. We have all heard the famous quote, “Revival starts with me.”3 What if it actually does? What if that which birthed the early church in Acts 2 and started the Pentecostal movement is the very thing that is needed to ignite this generation to see Canada saved?
We can try the latest strategies, techniques and methods. Those aren’t bad and God uses them, but why do we drift from our roots? Perhaps it is fear, distraction, a desire to be more intellectual, our lack of prayer, our lack of time to encounter Him personally or because we are busy “doing” ministry. However, without the Holy Spirit at work, our efforts are futile. Bones and structures are important, but Ezekiel discovered that without breath the army was still lifeless. Yes, I use strategies and programs, drink good coffee, wear skinny jeans, and love concert-style worship that is really loud. Yet I know the Holy Spirit is the only One who can heal, save, transform and empower a life. At every Resurgence initiative, we make space for people to encounter the Holy Spirit on a foundation of prayer and preaching the Word.
Build Community: Ezekiel saw a whole army of people arise together, not as individuals. The emerging generation is hungry for community. The breakdown of the family unit has led to a desire for fathers and mothers, often disguised in the word “mentorship.” God has provided a number of fathers and mothers to walk alongside our ministry. Because of this provision, a young generation is learning to become spiritual fathers and mothers who impact the life of local churches in our city. You may not feel you have anything to offer to the younger generation, but your time and willingness to listen can change a young adult’s life.
Mission—The Call to Scatter: When a young adult community encounters the Holy Spirit, believers are empowered to bring the gospel to “Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”4 It was like that for the early church after the Holy Spirit came in Acts 2, and it is the same today. The church has done well at gathering, and we are growing in our ability to scatter. We are seeing a generation eager to live out the Great Commission in each sphere of influence where God has placed them. That is the fruit of resurgence: it is a rising again of the same Spirit that caused the founders of our Pentecostal movement to pioneer this work over 100 years ago.
Today I pray that wherever you find yourself as a leader, this would be the beginning of a “rising again”—a fresh encounter with Jesus as you find yourself vulnerably seeking Him for your ministry and community. Let’s see a generation of youth and young adults arising together to see the kingdom of God at hand across Canada.
1. James Penner, Rachael Harder, Erika Anderson, Bruno Déscorcy, and Rick Hiemstra, Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Canadian Young Adults are Leaving, Staying and Returning to Church, 2011, http://faithformationlearningexchange.net/uploads/5/2/4/6/5246709/hemorrhaging-faith-april-4-2013.pdf
2. Ezekiel 37:1-14.
3. Casey Schutrop, “National Day of Prayer,” WOW Ministries, May 13, 2015, http://trueidconference.com/wowministriesblogs/national-day-of-prayer.
4. Acts 1:8.
Travis Holownia is the executive director of Resurgence Initiatives Society based in Edmonton, Alta. He spends his time travelling itinerantly reaching souls, reviving churches, and empowering emerging generation leaders. Check out the Resurgence website at LiveResurgence.com.
This article appeared in the April/May/June 2019 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.