This Lent, don't give up being the church

March 14th, 2018

There’s a lot of institutional despair these days. “The church is dying, it’s in decline, it’s done for, it’s over. The best days are behind us.” But what if all that’s just a story? And not a very good one at that? The church is only done-for if we say it is.

Here’s what I say: This Lent, don’t give up being the church. The truth is, there’s nothing to worry about. Worry doesn’t solve problems anyway. Trust, faith and positive action do. So here are some ways to increase your faith and trust in God.

Take positive actions

Make a list of all the things your church provides to the community and get loud and proud about it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Count up the number of people you have helped in the last six months and publish it. Count up the number of prayers you have prayed and publicize it. While you’re at it, count up the number of meals you have served, food baskets you have given out, flood buckets you have compiled, walks you have shoveled, hugs you have exchanged, cups of coffee you have served, stranded travelers you have aided, sick people you have visited, schoolkids you have tutored, funds you have gifted, Bible studies you have conducted, protests you have attended, “isms” you have surrendered, prayer shawls you have knitted, blankets you have blessed, quilts you have sewn, books you have donated, trespasses you have forgiven, neighbors you have assisted, letters you have written, mission trips you have taken, public acts of witness you have undertaken, kids you have taught, scriptures you have proclaimed, grieving families you have comforted, celebrating couples you have blessed, worried people you have calmed, PBJSs you have made, homeless people you have befriended, persecuted people you have comforted, acts of injustice you have interrupted, wounds you have healed and songs of praise you have sung. Tally the numbers and write up that report!

Got it?

Now, let it sink in. Doubtless, your congregation has generated a treasure trove of blessing which has radiated out far beyond your comprehension. You have packed love and care into the stream of life. You have partnered with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to channel extravagant blessing into the world. Allow yourselves to be touched and inspired by the knowledge that you are in fact making a difference. Why would you ever want to stop being the church?

Trust and trust some more

Reinforce the good that you are already doing in the following ways.

  1. Have church council meetings where you focus on all that you have accomplished rather than what isn’t going well. See if that doesn’t shift the conversation in a positive way. 
  2. Thank God for the good that has already been manifested through you, and all that God will continue to do through you. 
  3. Refuse to worry about kids that aren’t coming, generations that are missing, funds that haven’t shown up yet, and committees that aren’t filled. Trust that God has already heard and is answering your prayers. Then refocus on what is going well and right. Be delighted and surprised when what you need shows up. 

None of this is to say that there aren’t ways we can be more responsive, and things we can’t improve. We absolutely can. But taking positive actions and trusting God is far more likely to strengthen and empower you to take those steps than is indulging in worry or blame. When you are ready to take next steps to create a culture of renewal in your congregation and community, please be in touch.

Creating a Culture of Renewal is designed to empower you to take a quantum leap of faith into dreaming like Jesus, manifesting the kingdom in miraculous ways, and creating a world that works for everyone—with no one and nothing left out! You’re farther on your way than you imagine. If you’d like to be part of a worldwide movement to shift the conversation about the value of church, please join us! We’re here to empower and serve you. Early Bird rates are available through March 31.

Curious about the other things not to give up for Lent? So far, I encourage you to not give up your voice, or your neighborhood.

Rebekah Simon-Peter blogs at She is the author of The Jew Named Jesus and Green Church.

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