I get very excited when I talk to a congregation or a group of church leaders who are in the process or at least exploring the idea of working toward some type of revitalization effort in their congregations. It’s fun to see the eagerness in their eyes and desire and passion they have to recapture something of the “glory days” of their congregation’s mission and ministry. This is a great place to start in the process as you have all sorts of energy and enthusiasm. It really reminds me (especially this time of year) of those crowds gathered outside Jerusalem cheering on Jesus’ entry. To be sure, not all of their motives were in the right place but they were excited to see the king coming and knew something great was going to happen.
Early in any stage of revitalization, reorganization, reinvigoration or whatever you want to call it, it is easy to have that sense of excitement. There is urgency in your work and little victories seem like great triumphs. And then, time wears on. The steps forward become clouded by backsliding. The once energetic crowd starts to lose the luster of the day and night creeps in upon our work. Satan sifts us and our work for the Kingdom often become contentious or at least burdensome and wearying. The crowd dissipates and we are left like the lonely 2 on the road to Emmaus.
Or at least it seems that way. But as we know, we are never alone. Our Savior promised to never leave or forsake us. This is true even when the going gets tough working in our congregations. It is then that we need to remember that we can “double down” on what He gives to us. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
In the presence of the Incarnate Word, crowds cheered, hearts burned, sinner’s called for death, God delivered Life! Remember that when we work for the good of Kingdom, regardless of what we are trying to do, it isn’t about us. Dive deeply into the Word, study it together as leaders and as a congregation. Be regular in worship for there is the place where we are forgiven, fed and nourished. Pray, then pray some more, then pray some more. Pray for the process, pray for those who desire to hinder it, pray for guidance, pray for humility, pray for forgiveness, pray for your pastor, pray for the leaders of the congregation, pray for joy and pray for peace. And celebrate! Celebrate what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do in and through us lowly sinners all for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.
I’m certainly not saying here that if you will do this it will be a smooth and easy road. The work can be hard, tedious, exhausting, sometimes thankless and often frustrating. But there is no greater calling for us than to be about the work of our Father as He has gathered us together to do.