April 30, 2015
I read this article this past week by Ed Stetzer. Ed Stetzer is the Executive Director of LifeWay Research, a prolific author, and well-known conference and seminar leader. Stetzer has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. I hope this encourages you and helps us understand what we are trying to do.
"I fell in love with church revitalization early in my ministry when I served a church of senior adults during a brief stint teaching at a seminary.
The median age of the people was 68. It seemed like there was an oxygen tank or a walker at the end of most pews.
They came to me and said, “Dr. Stetzer, help us reach the young people.”
Leading a church in revitalization has taught me some invaluable lessons. While the process is often difficult and slow moving, if approached correctly it can reinvigorate and empower God’s people to produce lasting fruit.
You Will Meet Resistance
Leadership, especially with church revitalization, is a long and slow labor of love in the face of resistance. Not every member will be on your side during revitalization.
If you want everyone to love you, go sell ice cream, don't revitalize churches.
No matter how difficult, look past the resistance remembering that revitalization is like basic physics.
Momentum results from movement against the inertia.
Love Your People
In revitalization, you need to love, not drive people. Talk to them. Listen to them. Get them excited about God’s mission for their life and their church. Love your people, and not just as a means of getting them to do what you want.
I've led a few churches through revitalization and found that, in each case, when we took the time to love one another, people became excited and were more ready to go on mission.
They wanted to love their neighbors and engage the community around them.
Any disconnected church that seeks to reengage with their community will find the experience to be messy.
There may be physical messes like mud on the carpet, smudges on the walls, dirty bathrooms, or broken vases. The way of church life to which your people had grown accustomed will suddenly change.
But, there are also relational messes—things changing that some do not want to change.
In revitalization, it’s hard to transition to a missional mindset. Kids will break things. Life will change.
Church revitalization is an opportunity to lead God’s people to a renewed focus on God’s mission.
But in the end, it’s worth it all.
Church revitalization is an opportunity to lead God’s people to a renewed focus on God’s mission. Such an endeavor will undoubtedly change lives, communities, and have a gospel impact on generations to come.
In that first experience, I fell in love with church revitalization. The church recalibrated its sense of mission and reengaged in the growingly diverse community.
I also learned that strong leadership was not driving but loving and empowering my people to make the necessary decisions to live on mission in their community.
The fact is we need a mass movement of revitalization across our context. When we do, the mission force will engage the mission field and churches will be refocused on their mission."
God spoke to His people through Jeremiah, "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness." Jeremiah 2:2
Are we as spontaneously passionate about God as we used to be?
Is our relationship with God like a newlywed couple?
Are we writing poems and love stories about God?
Are we daydreaming of secret acts of kindness toward others just out of shear love for Jesus?
Are we planning generous acts of common care for family, co-workers, friends and even strangers? (Like free coffee, doughnut, a word of encouragement, letting them in during traffic, etc)
Jesus asked the woman at the well, "Will you give me a drink?"
Jesus needed a place to sleep after so much ministry towards people that He found a place at the bottom of a boat.
Jesus had needs when He walked on this planet. Jesus still has needs right now.
Maybe you need to go take a 15 minute break and take a walk with Jesus to let Jesus reveal the condition of your heart. "Godly sorrow produces repentance." 2 Cor7:10
Maybe God has brought to mind someone to serve right now in order to meet Jesus' need.
Maybe God is saying...
How can we fill Jesus' heart with so much love He beams with joy because of how we listened to Him right now?
Praying that Jesus' needs are met through us this week.
Humbled and honored,
1 Peter 3:15 "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
What is this hope that is in us, as Christians?
What is the difference between the hope of the world and the Christian hope?
Worldly hope seems to be more like wishes; it may or may not happen. As we read Scripture, is this the Biblical definition of hope?
Rom 8:24-25 "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
Here we see, hope is what saves us. Hope is not seen. Hope is something in the future.
God taught Paul to pray Eph 1:18 "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."
We see in this prayer the two part hope; the current hope of great power and the future hope of glorious inheritance.
The idea of enlightened is a picture of the sun shining brightly. The prayer is that we would be so saturated with God's hope that it shines out of us so that others see it and experience it.
Trying to pull this together, it seems like God wants us to be so saturated with hope that no matter what happens to us at any given moment, even if it is bad or hard or painful, we have this present and future confidence in the presence of Jesus in us.
Jonathan Edwards said this about Christian hope...
1. Your bad things will turn out for ultimate good. (Like Jesus suffering on the cross.)
2. Your good things can never be taken away from you.
3. The best things are yet to come.
God, I pray that you, the God of hope, will fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in You, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13
Still so many memories to ponder and process about the Holy Land trip, even after being back for over a month. Two events stand out. One event was seeing an archaeological discovery of a tomb believed to be back during the era of Jesus
The other was actually being inside a possible tomb that was Jesus' tomb.
Experiencing these two photos, caused me to re-read the four Gospels as they record the actual burial event of Jesus.
"Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds."John 19:38-39
We see two prominent Jewish religious leaders risking their lives, reputations, families and ministries to honor Jesus by giving Him a royal burial fit for a King. After the illegal trials that the religious leaders held and the public torture and murder of Jesus by the Roman soldiers, two Jewish religious leaders took a stand to serve, care and honor their King. They had been waiting for the Kingdom of God. Unlike their colleagues, something changed in them about their view of Jesus. While their colleagues continued their plan to get rid of Jesus, this fake Messiah figure, they discovered that Jesus was the Messiah; the true King of the Kingdom of God they had been waiting for.
Joseph used his own tomb, which was newly carved, meaning that it was brand new and never used. Nicodemus brought an enormous amount of spices to help bury Jesus. The four Gospels tell us that these two Jewish leaders took the body down and away to the tomb and wrapped Jesus' dead body. Does this mean they lowered the cross? Does this they pulled the nails out of His hands and feet? Does this mean they gently removed the crown of thorns? Does this mean they carefully put their religiously clean hands on a dead corpse?
It reminds me of the gifts of the Magi and the anointing of the very expensive oil by Mary. Jesus was and is a King. Even though He was born in a barn to a peasant, blue collar family and lived frugally day-by-day, He had a royal burial. And rightfully so.
Thank You, Jesus, for all of who You are and all of what You have done. Thank You that each year we are reminded of the greatest work You have done and have ever been done during Easter week. May You help us be in awe of You again. May You help us take a public stand for You like Joseph and Nicodemus by inviting our friends and family who are distant from You to meet You. May You answer our prayers and respond to our invitation by adopting our friends and family into Your family this Easter season. May Your will be done not ours.
Praying for Jesus to continue to accomplish His mission this Easter season,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.