In my last article titled, “5 Renewals Required for Revitalization” I wrote: “One of the most helpful bits of information about church revitalization that I learned at one of the many conferences I have attended over the years is, “that when God wants to revitalize a church he takes them through 5 types of renewal. These NEVER happen out of order.” That’s a pretty bold statement but I’ve found it to be true. The five types of renewal are: 1. Personal Renewal, 2. Relational Renewal, 3. Missional Renewal, 4. Structural Renewal, and 5. Cultural Renewal.”
In this article I want to address the first renewal, Personal Renewal. And specifically, how you can experience personal renewal both individually and as a congregation:
Individual Personal Renewal
1. Be Born Again. Just as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:5-7 NLT) You can never be spiritually re-newed if you’ve never been made new in the first place! So, make sure you have believed in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sin and have received the Holy Spirit into your life. If you’re not sure if you have been born again and you’re not sure how to be, talk to your priest, or feel free to give me a call.
2. Be Baptized in the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus commanded his disciples, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized withwater, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5 NLT) Now, this was after the resurrection and after the disciples were born again. Remember, they had already received the Holy Spirit in the upper room when Jesus first appeared to them. It says in John 20:21-22, “Again he said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’ Then he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (NLT) Yet, he commanded them to wait. Wait for what? For this baptism with the Holy Spirit still to come. If they needed this baptism to have the power to spread the Kingdom of God, then why should we think we can grow the church without having this baptism ourselves? So, make sure you have received this infilling of the Holy Spirit.
3. Be Bold in Your Witness. Just as Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT) Having and enjoying a personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit and experiencing the life transformation that he brings is wonderful; however, it is never ultimately about you. We must experience it in order to share it. The mission is by both demonstration and proclamation to bear witness to the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. So, make sure as you experience personal renewal you let it overflow out of you to the world around you.
1. Preach & Teach Personal Relationship with Jesus. There is a leadership principle that says that you get more of what you focus on. If you focus preaching and teaching on giving, giving will increase. If you focus on serving you’ll see more people serving, and so on. If your congregation needs more personal renewal then take a season, or a year, or however long it takes, and focus on it in sermons and classes and small group studies. Make sure to give “How To” instructions, not just “Ought To” instructions. Teach about how to practice the personal spiritual disciplines. Yes, this is “basic” stuff, but if you don’t have the basics in place you’ll never see the church revitalized. All the knowledge in the world “about” Jesus doesn’t have nearly the impact as actually doing life “with” Jesus.
2. Provide Programs on Personal Renewal. Prayerfully find good church-wide programs that will help renew everyone’s personal relationship with Jesus. Many churches utilize Alpha or Christianity Explored for this as well as evangelism. My previous church used a lot of 40 Day Spiritual Growth Campaigns like the 40 Days of Purpose Campaign.
Knowing how important personal renewal is to a church’s revitalization process, we at the American Anglican Council are now offering a spiritual renewal weekend called, ReNEW. We bring a small team to your church for a weekend of teaching, testimonies, and most importantly experiencing renewal in the Holy Spirit. This could be a great jump start to your revitalization efforts. If you’d like more information, please contact me directly at email@example.com. God knows your congregation better than anyone, so ask him to guide you to just the right program(s) that will fit your congregation’s renewal needs in 2019. He wants you and your church to be passionate for Jesus and filled with the power of the Spirit, so he will lead you to just the right thing!
Canon Mark Eldredge is the Director of Church Revitalization and Coaching at the American Anglican Council