Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Renovation of the Church

The book by the same name (authored by two pastors; Kent Carlson and Mike Leuken), really hit "home" for me on several fronts, not the least of which is my former church and our family there. During my tenure as an Elder (sitting) on Session, we engaged in not just one, but two expensive and extensive evaluation processes to identify where we needed to improve as a church. Ironically (Godincidentally?), both processes identified the same primary issue or weakness in our church. While they used different terms for this weakness, the focus was a lack of discipleship (sic. spiritual formation, passionate spirituality, spiritual development, etc.) Sadly, we didn't really respond to either of these processes in intentional or successful ways. And, we didn't engage in another (third) process to remind us where we needed help. It's been ten (10) years since that time, but the book really brought things back to the surface for me. And, I began to realize that the identified weakness the processes identified continues to be an issue for my former church and our beloved family there. During those ten years we "tried" to engage in spiritual formation, but never more than about 30 or so people (out of an enrollment of over 1,000) participated. Program, events, etc. seem to "headline" each week at my former church and many others. But, intimate discipleship groups (two or three gathered together) continue to be scant or absent.

Change is always difficult, and never something we tend to embrace positively. But, change is inevitable and if we embrace positive changes as God leads we will avoid painful changes down the road. The church in the western world in general is struggling with recapturing the vision and commands of Jesus . . . make disciples! We have become an entertainment producer catering to our consumer base and it's wants and desires. Discipleship (spiritual formation and transformation into likenesses of Christ) has suffered or disappeared altogether! But, there are people, faithful disciples who are taking up the "call" once again within their churches, who are leading the charge back into discipleship and spiritual formation, AND often in spite of a lack of leadership and support from denominations and individual church leadership and structures. That's the way revival always happens anyway . . . among the people with the Spirit leading the way.

So, I'm hopeful . . . for discipleship and for Jesus' Church!

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