Church revitalization is the essential and perpetual practice of Christ’s church.
When Adam and Eve doubted, rebelled, sinned, feared, hid, and engaged in their fig-covering ritual, God pursued and restored them. Following Israel’s sinful worship of the golden calf, Moses called his foolish congregation to repent and recommit themselves to God-honoring worship. Throughout the Old Testament, priests, judges, and prophets called God’s church to return to God and renew their spiritual vows.
The messages of John the Baptist and Jesus were the same. God’s covenant community was to repent and walk in obedience. Consider the letters of Paul to the churches of Galatia and Corinth. Are not they a summons to recommit to Gospel thinking and Gospel living? In Christ’s Revelation to his seven Asian churches, he walks among his lampstands and holds his ministers in his hand. He stands at their doors knocking, and his call is for them to “remember, repent, and recover.”
Throughout history, Christ’s congregations have experienced revival. And oh how thankful we are for that glorious period in church history called the Reformation. It was a tremendous work of God’s Spirit as church after church was revived, renewed, revitalized, and reformed.
This same holds true for you and your congregation today. God’s Law sets the standard; it outlines Christ’s will for his church. Therefore, there is no righteous church, no not one. There is no church that fully lives out her calling. In the areas of worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and leadership development, there are always sins and shortcomings needing to be addressed. None of us should be ignorant; none should be indifferent; none should be arrogant. All our churches are unhealthy in one area or another, and Christ is standing at the door knocking. Today he is calling all our churches to “remember, repent, and recover.”
However, there is something which must precede church revitalization. Do you know what that is?
Prior to church revitalization there must be personal revitalization.
Ministers, elders, deacons, and church leaders, let’s remind ourselves of God’s good Law. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. Externally, we are to be men of pristine reputation. Internally, we are to have pure character. Our minds are to be fully transformed by the Word of God; they are to be humble after the mind of Christ. We are to perpetually pray; we are to constantly keep step with the Spirit; the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are always to be evident. There are to be no exceptions in desire, thought, word, or deed. We are not to commit transgressions of commission or omission. This is the good expectation of Christ and exhortation of his Law.
That being said, as leaders in the church of Christ, where do we stand? We are all guilty! All of us are unhealthy in one way or another. All of us need to experience revival, revitalization, renewal, or reformation. All of us need to “remember, repent, and recover.”
We are the leaders of Christ’s local assembly. We are the spiritual fathers. We are the ones setting the pace and shepherding the flock of God. Is there any wonder our congregation struggles so?
Therefore, as important as church revitalization is, we must take care of self first. Just as the airline associate tells mothers to put the air-mask on themselves first before attending to their younger children, so ministers, elders, deacons, and church leaders must engage in Gospel repentance first. Perhaps then our fellow leaders and congregants will follow suit.
Weary elders and deacons, we know:
- We can often construct and lead a worship service without actually worshiping.
- We can counsel others to overcome sin while committing the same transgressions.
- We can better maintain a holy reputation than holy character.
- We can better shepherd someone else’s family than we can our own.
- We can preach and call people to faith while being men of faithless anxiety.
- We can consistently waffle back and forth between legalism and licentiousness.
- We can talk about humble unity while arrogantly fighting for personal preference.
- We can read and write on prayer much more than we engage in it.
- We can teach on God’s sovereignty and whine when our perfect plans go awry.
- We can give the Gospel to others and not apply God’s mercy and grace to ourselves.
- We can worship the theology, the pulpit, and the church and not worship Christ.
- And the list of sins can go on and on ….
Oh friends, what your church needs is for you to be revitalized. What your family needs is for you to be revitalized. Christ is standing and knocking. He is calling you to “remember, repent, and recover.” He knows how Satan is desiring to “sift you like wheat,” and he is praying for you. Now it is time to “turn again … and strengthen your brothers.” (Lk. 11:31-32) Could the Lord be using this blog to rekindle the fire in your soul. If this be the case, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit — remember, repent, and recover. Do not be a blind leader leading the blind into a pit. Take the beam out of your own eye, then you will be more equipped to work on the sins of your congregation.
Personal revitalization must precede church revitalization. Now, run back to the Savior. Run back to your Heavenly Father. And as you do so, you will find he is already coming your way. It is a glorious privilege to engage in “Semper Reformandi.” How sweet it is to enjoy refreshed communion with our ever-loving Lord and Savior! And then it will be sweet to take our church down the same Gospel road we have recently trod.
For twenty years, Embers to a Flame has been encouraging church leaders and congregations to “remember, repent, and recover.”
If you are a church leader and need a fellow pastor to converse with you, pray with you, and warm you with the Gospel, please give me a call or send me an email.
Joseph Franks (205) 533-2396 Jfranks@briarwood.org
If you are a church leader, and you and are ready to learn more about the teaching, coaching, and mentoring provided by Embers to a Flame, please make contact with us.
We exist to encourage and equip church leaders to build healthy churches that make healthy disciples. How can we serve you?
Embers to a Flame