For the past 30 years churches all across Canada have been in decline. None more so than the United Church. Many factors have contributed to this trend but at Southwood we’re taking steps to ensure our congregation is spiritually healthy, vibrant and growing. That’s the impetus behind our goal to have church-wide renewal.
Renewal in any church always begins with individuals. Let’s be honest, most Christ followers can go to worship, read their Bibles, pray and serve but not experience change in any significant way. But what if people experienced real ongoing transformation where they became more loving, joyful, grace filled and peaceful as they participated in the life of Christian community? This really can happen and it’s the heart of Church Renewal.
When that transformation happens to more and more people in a congregation like Southwood, renewal takes hold and God blesses us in so many incredible ways. Those changes in the depths of our souls and church life enables God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Spiritual transformation is accomplished when our efforts are combined with the power of God’s Holy Spirit moving in our lives. And the conditions for renewal are increased when we regularly engage in key practices of our faith. Here are six practices I believe will enable everyone to experience real life renewal:
- Daily practice of prayer, scripture reading and listening for God to speak
- Everyone finding their place to serve
- Worship experiences that reveal the beauty and diversity of God’s people
- Seeking to live out our faith in Christ every day in the world around us
- Seeking innovative ways to extend God’s kingdom into the world
- Connecting with others in life transforming small groups
Although Church Renewal begins with individuals, it grows deeper and wider when more and more people participate together in the regular activities of our church. Small groups, church wide prayer gatherings (Arise), special weekend events (Encounter God), Bible studies, serving together in outreach activities and regular corporate worship are all essential to drive Church Renewal across every sector of life at Southwood.
Over the next few years, we will be taking new steps to ensure that everyone who wants to participate in the renewal of our church has the opportunity to join in this adventure. We believe it will take time, prayer and a new openness to God’s Spirit guiding and empowering our efforts. As we do these things we will be following the path of those who have gone before us and be living out Paul’s admonition:
“Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention of God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.” Romans 12: 2 The Message Translation
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to send them to Pastor Ed: email@example.com