The Art and Science of Renewal
Bobbie recently gave a copy of an article on Garden Club renewal written by Donna Rauch, their Membership Chairman for their periodic newsletter. The article struck familiar notes with me concerning church renewal.
Church renewal begins with some realizations. First, is to realize that the “same” has become the “same old.” The second realization comes when we realize the same old isn’t working anymore to attract anyone new. Then, the most painful realization. Put in question form, it is “Do we want to change?” When we are happy and comfortable with our church, it is easy to think “I like it, everyone else should like it too.” Nothing is further from the truth.
Change without a focus or goal or just to do something is different is not renewal. Renewal comes when we set aside our wants and desires to discern what will draw others to us to begin a journey of discipleship. I don’t mean names on the roll, I mean disciples who are living out faith, following Jesus’ path.
A process of renewal requires us to forget about ourselves and focus on others. When you become a member, church stops being about you. When you become a disciple, you take your place working to create other disciples from those who follow. It is now all about the new person. You have not been demoted, you remain essential to the faith and the process of discipleship. It is also essential that we become the agents of renewal.
Before we start toward renewal you should pray for the greater church and for our local church. Ask for a spirit within you that wants to disciple others and is open to change when change is necessary. Then begin the path.
The first point on the checklist is ourselves. Disciples serve as a living example of faith. Our faith is out in front for everyone to see. If we are not living as a good example people don’t want any part of us or what we preach. If we expect renewal, we must first be renewed.
Second, we must be a place that looks like we care. I emphasize appearance of the building and grounds for the simple reason people will not give us a second look if they think we don’t care about how we look. Maintenance is important and for the same reason.
Our welcomes must be genuine. Nothing further need be said, you do this well.
I have obligations as well. I will preach and teach about a God of all-inclusive love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and grace sufficient for all needs. I will also preach and teach about Jesus, who gave us the path to salvation. When asked, I will offer counsel to those who seek.
Finally, we all must be mindful of what our community needs from us. The greatest way we evangelize is to serve our neighbors in ways that demonstrate the depth of our faith and our desire to follow Jesus’ example. For renewal we must discern what our community needs from a church and quickly move to satisfying those needs. Today’s generation wants to know if we are sincere in our faith. It is proven that people who are seeking a church home or are struggling with the first calls of discipleship are attracted to places where they see faith at work.
I am excited to continue this journey with you.