About J Generation movement
Pete Greig is on the leadership team of Revelation Church. Over the past few years he has planted two youth churches, become a dad, written a book called ‘Awakening Cry’ and accidentally kick-started ‘24-7 Prayer‘ – a worldwide, non-stop prayer movement.
He is now 32 and married to Samie – he has two children. Through the experience of his wife’s serious illness over the last eighteen months, Pete says he’s reluctantly learning to “celebrate weakness.”
In this interview, he talks to Huw Lewis, Director of Multiply and part of the apostolic team of the Jesus Fellowship.
Huw: Pete, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to faith in Jesus?
Pete: My parents were Christians and dragged me along to the local Anglican Church. I didn’t really have any choice until my teens when I realised I had to make a decision about which way my life would go. I began something of a spiritual search with a few school friends, looking for what was real in terms of faith. God met me in a powerful way soon afterwards and there was no looking back.
How did you join Revelation Church?
I spent a year working with Jackie Pullinger in Hong Kong. While I was over there I felt a clear call from God to return to England. I did a Theology Degree in London and during this course recognised that I needed to put down roots somewhere spiritually. I signed up for a training year at Revelation Church, but fell in love with my wife and the church – so I stayed!
How did the time with Jackie Pullinger change you?
It completely re-wrote my life. I’d heard about the miracles and wanted to see how revival worked, then bring it back to this country. But when I was out there, I was truly convicted and I realised that I needed a real change of heart and for Jesus to do a deeper transforming work within me.
What is your role now in Revelation Church?
I’ve helped to plant out two congregations and now operate as part of the leadership team with oversight for our various churches. I’ve passed on responsibility for leading the churches we planted so that I can continue to pioneer.
You went through a personal tragedy with your wife last year. How are things now?
Yeah. We suddenly discovered that Samie had a brain tumour just seven weeks after our kid Daniel had been born. The operation to remove it was successful but one year later the road to recovery is still long and painful. We’re so grateful – beyond words – to God and all those who lifted us in prayer.
Obviously, the whole 24-7 Prayer initiative is what you are best known for. How did it all begin?
It was something of a divine accident back in September 1999. A group of us knew God’s call to pray and we wanted to do it a bit differently. We were desperate to mobilise people and see something happen. We arranged a month of continuous prayer in a specific room, with a focus on young people in the church praying and releasing their burdens to God. There was a history behind this – we were aware of the ‘grand canyon’ divide between intercessors and evangelists and sensed that God was wanting to unite them together.
Through this month of 24-7 Prayer, something new was released and people were mobilised to pray and this, in time, inspired outreach and greater church planting. What happened after this was just incredible as the whole thing took off and began to spread. It has gone beyond our wildest imaginations and spread to many nations, denominations and age-groups. Hundreds of non-stop prayer meetings now link up on the web to form a unique chain of prayer.
Why has it been so successful?
Basically because God is in it! It’s not our own idea and seems absurd when you look at it on paper. It’s not for experts but for those who can find prayer a struggle. Locating the prayer season in a specific place also seems to be one of the keys to its success. Continuous prayer is effective because it changes us, firstly, and then it changes the world. The way it is still growing is also amazing. I’ve just heard, for example, that the Salvation Army in Australia have decided to pray for an entire year!
It has been something of a first Internet revival. How do you see that?
Technology has been very important, but in reality all we are basically doing is telling stories. We have an excellent means of gathering stories and sharing these over the Internet, spreading what God is doing over a wide area. For some years people have been talking about the enormous potential of being able to communicate across the globe and how we live in a shrinking world. We haven’t really seen that harnessed until now. It’s been absolutely incredible to see how this global communication is happening at present, networking like-minded people.
And all sorts of people are involved – it’s not just young people?
Absolutely! I’ve heard of a 96 year old man in Bournemouth who says that 24-7 is the most exciting thing that’s happened in his church in ages! In our ‘Monastery’ in Reading we have all types of people from every sort of background involved. The great thing about 24-7 is that anyone can do it. That’s why it has triggered off effective prayer in many different types of churches.
What is the vision for the Boiler Rooms?
These have really grown out of the Prayer Rooms. They are more permanent places or houses of prayer where we aim to see communities transformed. We call them ‘Millennium 3 Monasteries’! There are five key aspects to Boiler Rooms: Community, Mission, Pilgrimage, Justice and the Arts. Above all, a Boiler Room is about friendship and intimacy with God. This becomes contagious and a contagious Christian is an effective one. Boiler Rooms are committed to preaching the gospel – they aren’t ghettos.
Our vision is to see 50 of these open up in the next few years. The first one in Reading has been the most fruitful evangelism scene I have ever been involved with. The police called in there recently as someone who had been shoplifting was seeking sanctuary there! We had to hand him over, but it shows the reputation it has gained.
You’re keen on Celtic and monastic language. Why is that?
It fits in with our contemporary culture. Take a word like pilgrimage. It expresses something very important about God and our search for Him and life as a spiritual journey. God is mobile and is always moving and advancing. That strikes a chord with people today.
It’s interesting to note that the symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Bible (water, oil, the dove, fire etc.) are all about flow or movement. Every generation rediscovers this. Benedict, who wrote a monastic rule and was a key figure in the monastic movement, had as one of his core values the idea of pilgrimage. They were also very big on prayer. They would pray seven times a day. We’re not quite there yet!
And the term, ‘Millennium 3 Monasteries’?
We thought that one up in about thirty seconds! But it expresses the idea of creating centres of spiritual power, energy and drive. We have to recognise that the Celtic Christians were the most effective church planters that the British Isles have ever seen. They created holistic communities which included hospitals, schools, mission centres, preaching centres and houses of prayer – all rolled into one! We’ve really borrowed this idea and are seeing it become very fruitful.
Tell us about the book you’ve written, ‘The Awakening Cry’?
It’s about the call to prepare the way of the Lord in our churches, our society and ourselves. Everyone goes on about revival, but what do we do right here, right now to welcome God’s dreams into being? The book was inspired by a visit to the Hebrides, and is jammed with mind blowing stories of what God has done in the past while asking challenging questions about the future.
You’re also now linked up with Operation World Prayer Network?
Yes. They’ve been incredibly kind to us. The book, ‘Operation World’, which they produce, has sold 2 million copies. We’ve done a youth version which is available free at www.24-7mission.com. It’s full of vital information about the nations of the world. Every generation needs to learn afresh how to pray and have a focus for prayer. I believe in church but only if it is able to make an impact on the world and keep relevant.
You’ve also got a passion for social justice and the gospel to the poor.
Detinitely. It has to be worked out at every level, rather than operate as something that is just ‘tacked on’. We have to engage in real issues that people face and pray into these. The Boiler Room in Reading has made such an impact on excluded school kids that the Head of Education said recently that it would be great for every school to have one! We can clearly help with a whole range of issues, including sex education, drugs advice etc. It’s also important to partner with local initiatives that are tackling issues with the poor and marginalised without defining too closely what that is exactly. It could involve single mums, those with learning difficulties etc. There is a clear biblical connection between prayer and justice.
How can we create a truly multicultural church and continue to break down barriers between the races?
We must build friendships across every divide. We’re not called to uniformity, but rather to unity with diversity. The black church in Britain is so exciting and has much to teach the wider body.
How are you going to keep this all going?
We’re not! It’s vital we don’t keep it going. So often, initiatives which start with God soon become part of an institution. We’ve got to keep God central to all that is happening. He has started this and He must continue to inspire it. We don’t want to become an organisation, but keep as a movement. It has all accelerated beyond our control which is good as we have to trust in God and His hand on it all! Our greatest need is to keep in tune with the Holy Spirit and not let a system take over.
Friendship is a key to 24-7. We don’t want to make people do something they don’t want to do, but maintain those relationships which is at the heart of what is happening. It’s all about a shared vision, rather than following a strict model that says this is the way you must pray. Faith and danger are inseparable so we must keep taking risks for God. We must carry on subverting our own systems without destroying what God has given to us – break rules to build relationships.
What is your view of youth churches?
The body of Christ belongs in every culture – especially youth culture. We must reach this generation incarnationally – not just with a mouth and a book. Most moves of God began with youth churches. Integration between generations is impossible unless we first get the young people saved!
How successful have you been in changing youth culture which was part of your original 24-7 vision?
That’s difficult to answer. We want to help members of the new generation to pray radically for their friends and the people that shape the world. When you look at a secular music magazine like ‘Rolling Stone’, you begin to realise the impact that spirituality is having today. On a recent U2 tour, Bono was leading crowds of young people in worship every night. He might smoke and swear, but there is a significant impact there. You can see spirituality in our culture in many diverse places if you have eyes to see.
What is your view of worship in churches and how does it need to develop?
Worship is bigger than music! It’s about the five senses, the creative arts and social justice. The first guy in the Bible to be described as filled with the Spirit was an artist called Bezalel. Not a preacher or a prophet but a craftsman.
How do you see the way forward for charismatic churches?
This generation is charismatic by default rather than by definition. Most living churches are charismatic. The question is: where do we go now? We’ve spent 30 years saying “Come Holy Spirit”. Now the Holy Spirit is saying “Come Holy People”. It’s judgement day!
Are you optimistic about what lies ahead for the church?
Yes! Jesus promised to build His church. The prayer movement is a wonderful sign of life!
What is your own vision for the future?
The gospel to the nations. A church worthy of her groom and Portsmouth FC in the premiership!
This article was taken from our Jesus Life magazine, and was first published in May 2002.