Archives For Steve Childers

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The key to church renewal is learning how to develop a healthy church by strengthening the corporate renewal dynamics needed for the church to be an effective sign and instrument of God’s kingdom.
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In this video, you’ll learn:
  • The primary source of power for church renewal is found in God’s Spirit at work in and through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • The heart of church renewal involves restoring people to God, one another, the community, and the world – through the gospel.
This transcript will help you understand how to develop a healthy church by strengthening the corporate renewal dynamics.

Dynamics of Church Renewal

Earlier, we learned that a biblical vision for renewal includes a vision for the renewal of individuals, churches, and communities through the transforming power of the gospel. Now we’re taking a deeper look at what the Bible teaches about church renewal.

Like personal renewal, the primary source of power for church renewal is found in God’s Spirit at work in the local church through the person and work of Jesus Christ (the gospel). The good news is that God graciously gives all who repent and believe in Christ, not only a new status, a new heart, a new Spirit, and a promised new world, but also a new community – the church.

When the Holy Spirit unites us to God in Christ individually, he also unites us to Christ’s body, the Church, corporately. The Church is God’s new humanity on earth through which he carries out his mission to redeem and renew all things. Jesus refers to the Church as a new society on earth that is like a great city on a hill. It’s a new and better society that stands in stark contrast to the oppression, injustice, and brokenness on earth today.

In Christ, this communion of believers builds itself up in love to bring honor to God as they pray and work toward seeing “his kingdom come and his will be done” through their lives, individually and corporately.

God’s will for his church is their oneness with him through abiding in Christ. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). So it’s only by abiding in Christ that he will bear the spiritual fruit of renewal in and through our lives and churches.

So how did the first century church build itself up in love and abide in Christ to honor God and see his kingdom come in and through them?

Acts 2 tells us they prayed and worshipped God (42, 47), they learned the Apostles’ teaching (42), they had all things in common and broke bread and received their food with glad and generous hearts (44, 46), and they sold their possessions and gave generously to those who had need (45). What was the result? They had “favor with all the people” and “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (47).

One of the keys to renewal is for a church to experience oneness by abiding in Christ through alignment with God’s purposes. In Acts 2 we learn that some of these essential purposes include prayer, worship, learning, fellowship, mercy, and evangelism.

These biblical purposes should be seen as vital signs of healthy individuals and churches. The goal of church renewal should not be seen as growth in numbers, but growth in spiritual health by developing and strengthening these purposes as vital signs of church health.

These purposes should also be seen as the primary means Christ uses to build his church and fulfill his mission by restoring people to himself, one another, their community, and the world. To understand the biblical dynamics of church renewal, it’s helpful to integrate the biblical purposes for the church, with God’s mission of restoration:

  • Restoring people to God includes developing a God-centered vision, biblical worship, Christ-centered preaching, and kingdom prayer.
  • Restoring people to one another includes developing effective discipleship pathways and healthy community groups.
  • Restoring people to their community includes developing effective evangelism, acts of mercy and justice, and integrating faith and work.
  • Restoring people to the world includes developing world missions and church leaders who will lead ongoing renewal movements.

To help us deepen our understanding of church renewal, let’s briefly examine some of the essential biblical purposes for the church as a means of restoring people to God, one another, their community, and the world.

Restoring people to God

Vision: Developing vision includes helping people lift up their eyes to see how their life stories are meant to converge with God’s unfolding story of creation, redemption, and the restoration of all things in Christ. The vision is all about God: God’s glory, God’s kingdom, God’s church, and God’s gospel.

Worship: Developing worship includes helping people learn how to worship God with their whole being – understanding, affections, and behaviors. It also includes learning the importance of the biblical means of grace in worship and the essential elements of God-centered worship.

Prayer: Developing prayer includes helping people understand the nature and importance of prayer and the connection between prayer and the kingdom of God. It also includes equipping people to pray God-centered, kingdom prayers persistently and in faith.

Preaching: Developing preaching includes helping people understand the essential marks of biblical, Christ-centered preaching as a primary means of grace for individual and church renewal. It also includes helping people understand how the gospel applies to unbelievers and believers.

Restoring people to one another

Discipleship: Developing discipleship includes helping people learn how to become fully devoted followers of Christ by applying the truths of Scripture to their hearts and lives in the community of believers. It also includes learning intentional discipleship strategies and pathways.

Groups: Developing groups includes helping people understand the biblical vision and nature of a new community as God’s means of building up his people.  It also includes equipping people to lead healthy community groups and raise up and shepherd group leaders.

Restoring people to their community

Evangelism: Developing evangelism includes helping people understand the essential beliefs of the gospel from both the personal salvation and cosmic restoration perspectives. It also includes helping people learn the biblical goals, motivations, and methods of effective evangelism.

Mercy: Developing mercy includes helping people gain a biblical view of the nature and priority of mercy in ministry. It also involves developing ministries to the poor, in and outside the church, and equipping people to do acts of mercy and justice in their spheres of influence.

Work: Developing work includes helping people learn how to integrate their faith with their work by gaining a biblical understanding of work as a calling from God. It also includes helping people understand how their work relates to God’s mission and why work matters forever.

Restoring people to the world

Missions: Developing missions includes helping people learn a biblical, theological, and practical perspective toward Christian missions. It also includes helping people understand why missions is an issue of Lordship and the relationship between joy and missions.

Renewal: Developing renewal includes helping people learn the biblical foundations for individual, church, and community renewal found in God’s Spirit at work through the gospel. It also includes equipping people to apply renewal dynamics to their personal lives and ministries.

Leadership: Developing leadership includes helping people understand the biblical purpose, nature, and role of church leaders. It also includes helping people learn the biblical qualifications for church leadership and the principles and methods for equipping church leaders.

Since the goal in renewal is oneness with God and his purposes for the church, a local church must always be aligning and realigning its purposes to be one with God’s purposes. Healthy churches are marked by continually striving for greater alignment with God’s purposes so that God will be glorified, his kingdom come, and his will be done through them.


Sign up for the New Gospel Renewal Course!

Registration closes July 15

Help under-served church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.
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Read the New Transcript Below

Watch the Video

The key to personal renewal is understanding and applying the gospel as God’s ultimate solution to all problems of life. In this video, you’ll learn how personal renewal dynamics help us to:
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  • Embrace the gospel as God’s ultimate solution for our guilt (new record), corruption (new heart), and all problems of life, personal and social (new world), and
  • Walk in obedience to God by continually repenting and believing in the gospel in reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Through our ongoing repentance and faith in Christ, God means for us to tap into the powerful victory of our risen King, so we will be transformed by his Spirit into true worshippers of God and authentic lovers of people.
_____________________________________________________________
This transcript will help you understand how to experience lasting change through the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Personal Renewal Dynamics

In the last lesson, we learned that a biblical vision for renewal includes a vision for the renewal of individuals, churches, and communities through the transforming power of the gospel. Now we’re taking a deeper look at what the Bible teaches about personal (individual) renewal.

The key to personal renewal is understanding and applying the gospel as God’s ultimate solution to all problems of life. In Mark 1:14-15, Jesus teaches how to apply the gospel to our lives:

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”

Repentance and faith are two dynamics of a spiritual combustion cycle that God means to be at work in our hearts at all times, renewing and changing us into the image of his Son. To experience the transforming power of the gospel, we must be walking in obedience to God by continually repenting and believing in the gospel in reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.

To help us better understand what it means to experience personal renewal by living a life of obedience through ongoing repentance and belief in the gospel, let’s take a deeper look at the meaning of the gospel. Earlier we saw that the gospel is the good news that the Father’s creation, ruined by the Fall, is being redeemed by Christ and restored by the Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God. This is a broad, sweeping overview of the good news we are to believe.

But as we go deeper into the biblical meaning of the gospel, we learn how God redeems fallen humanity and creation in the person and work of Christ. The Bible teaches that this redemption is through the gospel events of what Jesus did in his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension to his heavenly throne. But the good news of the gospel is more than merely the proclamation of what Jesus did.

The good news is also about who Jesus is because of what he did. The Bible teaches that, because of what Jesus did, God affirms and declares who Jesus is – he is Savior and Lord. This means that as Savior, God has given Jesus the authority to bestow salvation. And as Lord, God has given Jesus the authority to require submission.

But the gospel is about more than the proclamation of what Jesus did and who Jesus is. The good news is also about the astonishing gospel promises God makes to all who will repent and believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. What are these promises God makes to all who will follow him by repenting and believing in Jesus Christ as the resurrected and ruling Savior and Lord?

As a broad overview, this is the good news of God’s promise to redeem and restore fallen humanity and creation from all the consequences of sin. But in a more narrow, specific way, this is the good news of God’s promises to make all things new for all who will follow Jesus in repentance and faith. This includes God’s promises of:

• a new status of forgiveness and righteousness before God to replace the old status of being under God’s just wrath and condemnation because of guilt,

• a new heart and a new Spirit from God, the Holy Spirit, to replace the old heart and old desires with new affections and desires that love God and others,

• a new community formed by the Holy Spirit from a redeemed people from every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth, called the Church, and

• a new world when Jesus returns to end all suffering, restore all things to God’s original design, and rule over his kingdom on earth with his people forever.

So what do we do to receive these remarkable benefits that God promises? We saw earlier that Jesus tells us to “repent and believe in the gospel.” When Jesus calls us to repent, he’s not calling us to beat up on ourselves or just clean up our lives. Instead, he’s calling us to a radical change of heart.

The Bible teaches that our root problem is not an external, behavioral problem. It’s a problem of the heart. And the reason our heart is not more transformed is because we have allowed our heart’s affections to be captured by idols that steal our heart affection away from God. In Scripture, an idol is something from which we get our identity. It is making something or someone other than Jesus Christ our true source of happiness or fulfillment.

The idols that capture our hearts today include things like approval, reputation, or success. For some it’s comfort, control, pleasure, or power. For others it’s possessions, sex, money, or a relationship.

Idols can be good causes such as making an impact, having a happy home, a good marriage, or obedient children. Even a good thing can become an idol if it becomes such a source of our identity that without it our life becomes meaningless.

However, repentance is only half of our responsibility in personal renewal. It’s the negative side of the transformation equation. So let’s look now to the positive strategy of “faith in the gospel.”

The reason Jesus commands us to “repent and believe in the gospel” is because faith in the gospel is the mysterious means God ordains through which the power of his victory as our King is meant to flow in and through our lives and our churches.

But believing in the gospel is not simply believing that the gospel events, affirmations, and promises are true.

Believing in the gospel involves allowing the gospel promises to keep leading us to draw near, by faith, to the One who makes these promises. Through repentance, we pull our heart affections off the worship of our idols, so that through faith we can set those same heart affections on the worship of the living Christ.

This involves renewing our minds and hearts by rejecting our beliefs in the lies of the evil one and the false promises of our idols. It means replacing our old beliefs with new beliefs in the multifaceted gospel promises of our new status, a new heart, a new community, and a coming new world.

Through our ongoing repentance and faith in Christ, God means for us to tap into the powerful victory of our King, so we will be transformed by his Spirit into true worshippers of God and authentic lovers of people.

At a great Jewish feast, Jesus called out to the crowd with a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (Jn 7:37-38). By this, the Apostle John tells us, Jesus meant the Holy Spirit.

Renewal begins when thirsty people start turning away from their idols, from drinking the contaminated water in their broken cisterns (Jer 2:13), and begin drinking deeply from the well that is Christ.

This well never runs dry. Here are the springs of personal, church, and community renewal among all nations.

In our next lesson, we’ll take a deeper look at what the Bible teaches about church renewal.


Sign up for the New Gospel Renewal Course!

Registration closes July 15

Help under-served church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.
Pathway Learning 

Watch New Video

Read the Transcript

The key to personal renewal is understanding and applying the gospel as God’s ultimate solution to all problems of life. In this video, you’ll learn how personal renewal dynamics help us to:
________________________________________
  • Embrace the gospel as God’s ultimate solution for our guilt (new record), corruption (new heart), and all problems of life, personal and social (new world), and
  • Walk in obedience to God by continually repenting and believing in the gospel in reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Through our ongoing repentance and faith in Christ, God means for us to tap into the powerful victory of our risen King, so we will be transformed by his Spirit into true worshippers of God and authentic lovers of people.
________________________________________

In this course you’ll be equipped to:

  • See a vision for personal, church, and community renewal
  • Understand how the gospel brings personal renewal
  • Explain how gospel renewal dynamics bring church renewal
  • Teach how the church facilitates community renewal
  • See how networks, alliances and movements bring renewal
  • Demonstrate how heart renewal is the heart of all renewal

This brief video (8:02) will help you understand how to experience lasting change through the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Free Preview New Course: Gospel Renewal

Registration closes July 15

Help under-served church leaders
develop churches that transform lives and communities.
Pathway Learning