Forget TikTok trends. These youth want religious revival

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Forget TikTok trends. These youth want religious revival

Asbury University students showed up to their regular Wednesday chapel service on Feb. 8, and they haven’t left since. While groups of students have filtered in and out for classes and the dining hall, the ordinary chapel service has sparked an extraordinary “revival” that has drawn thousands of visitors and students from dozens of other colleges and even high schools.

Bennet Ellison, a seminary student at Asbury Theological Seminary (unaffiliated but next door to the university), says he showed up on Wednesday afternoon after a friend texted him that “something special” was happening.

“Some people were quick to say revival was happening. A lot of us, though, were very hesitant,” Ellison told the Washington Examiner. “How do you quantify revival? But we knew something was happening. It wasn’t revival in the sense of people running up and down the aisle and getting rowdy. People were weeping, praying together, confessing things.”

The dayslong service remained underway as of Feb. 15, with participants praying, singing, and dancing to worship music and sharing testimonies.

According to reports, the atmosphere is difficult to explain. “We would say there is just a spirit of the Lord in this place. Really, [it has made] its way into the hearts and minds of our students, staff, faculty, and our community,” Kevin Brown, the president of Asbury University, told a local news outlet.

Even initially hesitant students have joined in. “I was definitely skeptical at first because growing up with my church, we never had anything like this, and so I wasn’t used to the idea of revival,” 19-year-old Asbury student Breanna Prevett told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “But the longer it’s gone on, I realize that if God wants it to happen, it’s going to happen.”

A private, Christian university founded in 1890, Asbury has seen revivals before. “Asbury University has been known through the years for its history of great revivals,” the Kentucky university’s website notes, citing eight events from 1905 to 2006. In February 1970, “classes were cancelled for a week during the 144 hours of unbroken revival.”

What may be most notable about this event is its demographic: Filled with Generation Z students, the Asbury revival is hyping up religion for a group of people who are supposed to want nothing to do with it. More than a third of Gen Z identify as having no religious affiliation, more than any other age group. While young people are increasingly irreligious, many of them at Asbury are finding faith in community.

Now, it’s not just about the students. As the story has spread through social media, visitors have arrived from all over America. “The energy of this awakening has shifted,” Ellison said. “It’s not necessarily good or bad. We believe at first it was very concentrated to God wanting to do something specifically for the Asbury community. And now it’s shifting into more of a nationwide and global scale.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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