The need and the desire to begin a conversation about the future for our churches is almost universal right now. As church communities, we have foundational challenges and opportunities to find our way through the wilderness of this pandemic. One pastor I spoke with recently noted that it is almost like starting from scratch as churches are wondering about the future of the church and ministering in this new era. “It seems like I am stuck on “re”: restyle, revamp, reestablish, remake, reintroduce, recreate, replenish, regenerate, recharge, renewal!
Here are some questions and perspectives for starting this conversation that I have found helpful.
- Are we clear about “Renewal” for what?
- Getting ready for renewal starts with God’s mission and not with customer satisfaction surveys. The church was not our idea; the church is God’s idea.
- If we seek to join more faithfully and fruitfully God’s mission, how will we define success?
- God has a mission and God’s mission has a church whose purpose is to discern and participate in God’s mission on behalf of the world God so loves.
- What happens when we move from being survival driven to being vision led?
- Can you imagine a future led by the Spirit which inspires hopes, supports hopes, and gives back to the church the capacity for dreaming?
- An important question for every church is: Are we a member driven church or a mission driven church? Consider the difference?
- Starting by asking what do members want?
- Or imagine a community of members all given unique gifts by the Holy Spirit for the sake of the whole, coming together to ask and answer, “What is God calling us to be and do in this time and place?”
Grounded in Faith and Hope, let us walk together, knowing we are not alone. I have been raising questions about what and why of renewal. Here is some help as you look to design the “how will I do this with my church?” Over the past 53 years the Center for Parish Development has been creating and providing resources, processes, and pastoral supports for a journey THROUGH THE WILDERNESS, LED BY THE SPIRIT. Here are ways to begin:
- Starting the conversation, building awareness, motivation and commitment for renewal is an important first step. We have created a set of resources titled Getting Ready for Renewal, that starts the conversation with God’s mission, helps clarify the what and the why of renewal, supports getting organized and designing the renewal process and getting started.
- Set up a 15 minute conversation with me to consider what a renewal journey might be like for your church.
- Take a look at the blogs in our website found under the title “Through the Wilderness.” Each posts offers free resources to support engaging your church leaders and members as you look to start a conversation and consider your journey through the Wilderness let by the Spirit.
By Ray Schulte