“Jesus, my prayer for this post is that it would empower and encourage our church to be moving towards vitality in the church. Lord, I realize that church vitality is not something that can be achieved by the efforts of the staff, lay leadership, or any individual alone in a church. For this reason I ask that you will help readers consider this post seriously for their lives. We want to look, speak, and act more like you Jesus, but not one of us are there yet. May this post challenge us all towards change and renewal. Sanctify us daily Lord, to look more and more like you.”

     I found this post difficult to start without including this opening prayer. As human beings we often want to jump right in with our agendas and thoughts, but as Christians we ought to prayerfully invite God into each conversation. My hope is for this to be an open conversation about renewal and vitality in our church family. After all, none of us is perfect, and neither is our church; we should always be looking for opportunities of growth and long lasting vitality. Naturally, this should start with prayer. True renewal and vitality will come when Jesus is central. When Paul wrote to the church of Colossae, he starts his letter by emphasizing the centrality of Jesus.

    “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church … through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.” – Colossians 1:16-20 (paraphrased, with emphasis added)

Renewal

     Paul says that all things are held together by Jesus. Trying to hold our lives/the church together with something other than Jesus is like using a weak glue to fix something around the house. A glue stick will not hold up the heavy, important object. A water based glue will be weakened by the elements. Some glues may leave toxic odors. Still others may leave a residue that gets in the way of a better glue working in the future. The glue may hold for a short time, but the results will not last.

     Jesus is stronger than ‘Gorilla Glue’. Gorilla Glue can fix and hold that cabinet knob in place; Jesus wants to fix and hold our lives firmly in place of His grace and love. THIS is the personal renewal Paul is talking about. When we find ourselves in the mess of life: when we have messed up, and when others have hurt us, Jesus speaks a far greater truth that can hold us together. He says, ‘I came so that you may have abundant life’ (paraphrased John 10:10), and “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). What this means is that Jesus has the recipe for an abundant life; no matter how badly we may be hurt from our mistakes or others, His recipe (of grace) will work. Other recipes for glue in life will eventually fall apart, they will leave bad/smelly residues, and will not weather the storms of life.

Vitality

     When Jesus is central to our own renewal, vitality will begin in the church. Looking at the verse from Colossians 1 once more, Jesus is the head of the church. Even before He said “Follow me” to the disciples, He has been the cornerstone. He is the catalyst of our personal faith and of the global church family.

     As the “head of the church”, Jesus is the one to set vision. Imagine a corporate company being led by the employees; a house divided cannot stand, and neither can a church that does not seek the guidance of God. A corporate company founder is flawed, the employees may truly have better ideas, but Jesus is perfect. He has ultimate foresight, and say over what is best. So how do we get to church renewal and vitality? How can we know the will of God? Through the tools God has given us:

1) We are equipped with the Bible. It is filled with stories of how God has worked in the past, and commands how we can live fully.

2) We are equipped with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can help us understand the stories of God and His will.

3) We are equipped with Prayer. Our way of sharing (our joys, thankfulness, frustrations, confusion, questions,) with God.

“Jesus We Love You” from Bethel Music.

A great reminder of the renewal God can bring to our lives, but His love that never changes.

Click here to read the short letter (from a church family member) that inspired this post. It is from Amy Nicholson to Pastor Brad and his wife Roxi. Thank you Amy, for this encouraging letter and the permission to share it here.
“I just came home from the council meeting, and as I washed the dishes, I had some thoughts on the church and vitality and wanted to share… As we delve into the vitality process, I hope we will reflect on our identity. Who are we? What do we believe? What is our mission? If we remember Whose we are, the answers to these questions should become clear. I started to wonder this: If I weren’t a member of FCC of Litchfield, would I want to be? What would attract me to the church?

 

I reflected on the interim between the sad departure of the Rocknesses and the happy arrival of the Bergfalks. I left FCC during that time … our family attended Valley Community Baptist in Avon. The pastor preached the Gospel. People spoke freely and sang loudly about Jesus and the joy of salvation. The word was living and active, and people were passionate about Christ and serving Him. When you accepted the call to serve us, we returned to FCC. You preach the Gospel. You live it. And you are truly a breath of fresh air in our church.

 

Monday night I was so exhausted. I didn’t have work lined up but sure was feeling weary. A two week assignment came up. I grabbed it, begrudgingly. I asked DJ to pray for me. He did. Then I read the Scripture about not growing weary of doing good. The next day, I was filled with the Spirit and energy beyond myself. I was joyful heading out to work. Surely the joy of the Lord was my strength. How do we make that contagious?

 

I liked what Danny had to say tonight about bountiful giving beginning with passion and pouring out to serve our community. I think the missing element for us is passion. For Christ. Prayer, praise, the reading and living of the word. All the things you preach and live out in your own lives.

 

So I will continue to be in prayer for this church, for the stirring of the Spirit. For renewal and revival. And I will continue to pray for you, my dear friends in the Lord. Thank you both for blessing my life.”
     Just as God implores the people of Israel in Joshua 1:9, let us also be strong and courageous people. I believe God wants to do new, incredible things in our church family, and He wants to see the outpouring of His spirit to impact our local community. See God is doing a new thing in our church family! I encourage you to be a part of it. You can start today. Pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, renewal in your life, and vitality in our church.

 

     I would love to hear from you on this. What are some ways I can pray for you for renewal in your own life? What areas is God challenging you to be more like Jesus so that His awesome plans for your life can come to fruition? How do you feel about church vitality, and what can our church do to seek after Jesus and his renewal for this (almost) 300 year old foundation?