The secret to church renewal

February 10th, 2021

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to church renewal. First, the good news: it’s going to be simpler to address than you thought. Next, the bad news: you won’t find the answers, or even the source of the decline, in any of the most obvious places.

The dictionary defines renewal as replacing or repairing something worn out, run-down, or broken. It’s easy to look for what seems broken — like giving, worship attendance, level of participation, building repair or layout, or disciple-making systems — and then seek a series of fixes. All of the above issues will respond to a process of renewal. Yet none of them are the source of the decline. 

The source of decline is hiding in plain sight. Want to know the secret to church renewal? And the three underlying principles?

Here’s the secret: renewal begins within. I don’t mean within the congregation. No, the answer is even closer to home than that. Church renewal starts within you.

Hidden-in-plain-sight secret

I was reminded of this hidden-in-plain-sight secret at a recent Creating a Culture of Renewal retreat. Participants designed a worship service that incorporated Romans 12:1-2. They reminded church leaders of some Christian faith basics,  including this: You can’t align your mind with God’s consciousness if you’re too conformed to the patterns of this world.

Patterns of the world

While there are many patterns in this world, one of them is to pretend like nothing is wrong. The other is to pretend that everything is wrong. The first leads you to a constant state of denial; the other to a continual state of lament, outrage, or resignation. Either way, you can’t discern God’s will for you when your mind is caught up in the patterns of the world.

Another pattern is to be dominated by fear. The potential concerns that leaders are subject to are endless. Fear of what others think of you. Fear of getting it wrong. Fear of conflict. Fear of telling the truth. Fear of saying no. Fear of saying yes. Fear of not getting things done. Fear of losing influence or authority. Fear of looking bad or of not looking good.

Breaking free of these patterns

Breaking free isn’t easy. Jesus did it by getting away from the crowds — even his friends — to be alone with God in prayer and communion. The same is true for leaders today. It’s essential to spend time away from the world’s constant drama, to reconnect with your own body, mind, and soul. It’s also important to connect with people who feed you instead of drain you.

Too simplistic?

In some ways, this answer to renewal seems simplistic, misguided even. How can your relationship with God bring revival to the church? How can your prayer life or physical fitness impact congregational giving or worship attendance or someone else’s leadership? You can find the answer in the three principles of renewal.

Three principles of renewal

Underlying the hidden-in-plain-sight secret to renewal — that renewal begins within — are three guiding principles of renewal.

  1. Your people can only go as far as you can lead them.
  2. You can only go as far as you’re willing to let God lead you.
  3. Your fears, worries, and concerns, i.e., the patterns of this world, are holding you back.

If it’s true that your people can only go as far as you can lead them, then they’ll never experience renewal if you don’t. This statement isn’t a judgment; it’s an invitation to see where you’re physically worn out, emotionally run-down, or spiritually broken. And to attend to the needs of your own body, mind, and soul so that you can lead others more effectively.

How to create a culture of renewal

Want to learn more about how you can create a culture of renewal? I invite you to attend a free seminar. You’ll learn the three stubborn barriers to achieving renewal, three life-giving miracles that renewal brings, and how to take the next step. Email to register.

In the meantime, if you’re a leader, remember that it’s essential to be kind to yourself, to be courageous, and to spend more time with God.

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