Saturday, June 18, 2005

Installment #6

Perhaps my last (for now) thought about working for renewal in an established congregation, is the idea that renewal can't be copied.

What I mean is that renewal is an authentic response by believers to the movement of God's Spirit. Therefore, it cannot be, by nature, the calculated response of those seeking pragmatic ways to accomplish their desired goals, even if those goals are admirable and theologically-driven. The latter is by nature not renewal. It can't be.

To illustrate, one cannot be like Thomas Edison by inventing the light bulb. Thomas Edison, when he invented the light bulb, was creating something new. There is a difference between mimicking Edison (creating a light bulb) and being like Edison (inventing something new).

Renewal cannot be mimicked, though that is often attempted. We cannot copy the faith of others (though the Christian heritage I grew up in tried desperately to do just that) but must live it out ourselves.

What this has to do with congregational renewal is that a community must faithfully seek renewal according to the movement of God's Spirit in their time and place. We can learn from other examples of renewal (in scripture, Christian history, or our world today) but we do not gain from those stories techniques and strategies (as if renewal can be brought about on human terms) but indications about how to connect with God's prevenient Spirit. We can be inspired, we can see what faithfulness looked like for others, but in the end we must ask God anew to stir us with his Presence.

So if you take what I am saying seriously, I have almost completely nullified everything I've been talking about in these installments! I have . . . if anyone has been sifting them to discover a "plan" for renewal. It is about new wineskins, and about believers being bold in their faithfulness so that God may redefine their relationships with him, with each other, and with the world.

I hope that the experience of the gathering of believers I journey with daily will entice others to hunger and thirst for a similar adventure. If they seek, they will find . . . and another story of God bringing renewal will be written . . . in order to lure others to bold abandon.

1 comment:

Ken Haynes said...

Great series of posts----
We too often "settle" for human driven counterfiet/substitutes for renewal. May God continue to challenge my weak and shallow categories of his renewing work. Thanks again for taking time to post this series of thoughts.