Healthy Endings Book Blog 4 - Renewal Too?
Can this book be used for church renewal as well as help others experience healthy endings?
The simple answer is yes!
My first interim role after the experience with Chamberlayne Baptist Church was with a small, rural church in Virginia not far from the hustle and bustle of the US Route 95 corridor. It is tucked away enough, though, that it is a beautifully quiet farming community. It is a delightfully typical country church.
Their plight was similar but not identical to that of CBC's. When I first arrived, most everyone in the congregation of 25ish almost universally told me, "We need more young people." "There are only a handful of us left, so we have got to get younger or we won't survive." This is the typical language of churches facing legacy transitions. It is the painful arrival of a congregation that begs the ultimate conversation of whether or not they will continue to exist.
Naturally, my first instinct was to use the same approach I had used with such great success at Chamberlayne. All of the leadership principles and explorations I had previously utilized served me well. The result of what I learned, however, was quite different than my last church.
What was present here was a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the midst of their anxiety. These people were afraid but also filled with hope. It did not take long to discover that this component might help them take this similar situation and produce an entirely different outcome. My approach remained the same with them, but as this flower began to slowly bloom before my eyes, what changed from my perspective was the content.
The grassroots conversations were open dialogue about how to capture a strong sense of ownership to the identity of the church and how God could use this specific small band of believers to revitalize. We embarked upon a quest to a new church vision, but not following the typical pattern you see in renewal processes. In fact, what I developed may become another book, all of it learned through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our group coaching sessions. It was dynamic and an obvious kingdom growth experience.
As I write this, Upper King and Queen Baptist Church is in the process of calling their next pastor. It was so exciting to have partnered with them in a ministry of restoration and new approach to living into God's mission as opposed to trying to survive. I believe with all my heart that they have an extraordinary season ahead of them.
How can this book lead to renewal for congregations? Read about the process and leadership closely and see how God could use this approach to lead to facing hard truths head on. What you will discover is how this can lead to potentially opposite outcomes. I'd say more here, but this is something you should experience for yourself in the book.