Church revitalization requires a process, but that process cannot be separated from the personal walk of the leader who longs for congregational renewal. Below are nine reasons why spiritual disciplines matter in church revitalization.*
- The call to disciplines reveals our heart. If we don’t spend time with God daily, that choice tells us something about ourselves. Perhaps we are more self-dependent than God-dependent. Maybe we are “fixers” who try to address problems first, and then pray if necessary. Any of these realities will hinder revitalization.
- Our personal walk with God affects the corporate walk of the local church. Leaders who do not follow God intimately seldom see genuine revitalization in their church; in fact, they sometimes produce congregations that unknowingly need revitalization.
- The Bible is a book about hope and life. We know this truth – perhaps so well that we have forgotten its power. To have hope for revitalization, we need to be reminded regularly through the Word that God brings life out of death.
- Disciplines strengthen our faith. Reading the Word and praying are lifelines to the Father. Knowing that God divides seas, collapses walls, slays giants, and empties tombs strengthens our trust in Him. No task of revitalization is too big for this God.
- Prayer is an expression of relationship with, and dependence on, God. When we don’t pray, our prayerlessness is an expression of idolatry of the self. God does not bless the leadership of idolaters, even those who have great skills for revitalization.
- Daily obedience undergirds our praying. Revitalization requires the power of God. The kind of praying that results in God’s power demands obedience (Isa. 59:1-2), including reading the Word, praying continually, and rejecting temptation.
- Disciplines focus our attention on God, not on our circumstances. It’s the apathetic, dying church that needs God’s renewed touch. Unless we are regularly focusing on God via study and prayer, the obstacles to revitalization can quickly become overwhelming.
- Disciplines help to turn our heart outward. It’s hard to read the Bible consistently without seeing God’s heart for our neighbors and the nations. Leaders who live in that truth daily are best prepared to lead inwardly focused churches toward turnaround.
- Faithfulness to spiritual disciplines gives us humble confidence to lead. Revitalization often requires changing as needed to reach this generation. Leaders who live in a state of ongoing dependence on God are most prepared to lead in this direction.
If you’re leading a revitalization effort, let us know how we can pray for you.
*a version of this post first appeared at www.thomrainer.com.
Dr. Lawless, what a timely post as just this morning I continued to pray for wisdom and discernment in the revitalization effort I’m in. Also praying for reconciliation and repentance in the congregation, which it seems is a big part of revitalization. Sometimes I feel like I need a Nathan moment to help them see what I see. “You are the man.” Thank you for these pearls of wisdom, reminders and encouragements.
Blessings on your work, Russ.
I greatly needed this reminder after last nights business meeting. Thank you for your faithfulness. Please pray for Haven Baptist church.
Praying for you, Steve.