Phil Miglioratti of The Reimagine.Network Interviewed Sam Rainer on Church Revitalization
"If God can save any person, he can save any church. The gospel embodies a movement -- bringing people out of spiritual darkness and into eternal light.
What Jesus does for individuals, he also does for the church, the assembly of saved individuals. The Good news is both personal and corporate."
Phil >>> Sam,these are the very first words you write as you introduce your book. Why begin with this statement? What are we missing if we do not comprehend this concept?
Sam >>> I believe every church is worth saving. Each church address and location is sovereignly selected by God. Every church should continue doing kingdom work until Christ returns. The work of church revitalization is critical to the expansion of God's kingdom. Imagine if just a small portion of unhealthy churches became healthy again. A major gospel movement would occur!
"Cultural Christianiyt might be dead or dying. Maybe that's embarrassing for some. But I'm not embarrassed.
We need more faith contenders and fewer church pretenders anyway.
The Christianity I see in the New Testament I see is lean and determined.We're called to work out our faith while running a race. We're called to gird our loins with truth."
Phil >>> Agree/Disagree and explain why . . . Our problem with "cultural Christianity" is not the ability to see how culture impacts other ethnicities or ministries but an inability (unwillingness?) to assess how it has influenced our own church culture.
Sam >>> Each community has a culture. Each church has an organizational culture. The problem occurs when church culture becomes an island in the broader culture. Local churches are not meant to be walled fortresses keeping the community out but rather vehicles sent into the community to share God's grace.
"I titled the introduction "Leading Your Church into an Era of Renewed Optimism" to draw a clear distinction between my outlook on the future of the church and the more somber tone of other recent books on the subject."
Phil >>> Why is optimism essential to church revitalization? Are we to ignore the rapid and radical changes taking place across global cultures?
Sam >>> Just because national trends point to a decline in the North American church does not mean your church must decline. Leaders cannot resign themselves to negative influences and outcomes. Your role as a leader is to translate the message of hope in your own context. Leaders move people to the other side of tomorrow. And that requires optimism. Optimism at its most basic simply means seeing that something better is possible. Optimism assures us that we don’t have to stay stuck where we are. We can move, we can hope, we can take action.
"The Kingdom of God knows nothing of pessimism. Pessimism in leadership leads ultimately to tyranny.
Describing reality is the job of the historians and journalists, not leaders.
Historians look backward. Journalists report what's happening today. Leaders move people to the other side of tomorrow."
Sam >>> Unfortunately, some church leaders assume the worst. When you believe the worst will happen, you will do one of two things: Retreat or destroy. Retreating is disobedient. We are called to charge the gates of hell with the Great Commission. The church is to move outward, not inward. Worse, some church leaders will simply speed up the process of destruction with pessimism. For example, I heard of one church in which the pastor was determined to let the church die so the denomination could have the building. When taken to the extreme, leading people towards death becomes a form of oppression rather than freedom.
"We must start exploring now."
Phil >>> Many are hesitant to use terms like "explore" or "reimagine" for fear of compromising the scriptural truths we build our church ministry and experience upon. Should we fear exploration or fear more what happens if we refuse to explore?
Sam >>> The Bible is clear. There are more places to go and more people to reach. The exploring church has a culture of wanting to go to these places and people. There is nothing to fear about a passionate pursuit of the Great Commission.
"Far too many churches hit the pause button when what they really need is a full reset.
Depending on whos' counting, somewhere between 65 and 90 percent of churches need some form of revitalization.
Every church has a reset button. Don't wait...The church is supposed to change the world.
Stop lamenting our increasingly godless age. Let's build God's Kingdom"
Phil >>> Please unpack the difference between a "pause" and a "full reset."
Sam >>> Pausing is the status quo. A full reset enables a church to do that which has never been done.
"As average Sunday attendance grew to more than 125...most of the newcomers had no idea this had been a struggling church of only a few dozen people not that long ago."
Phil >>> What made the difference in this glory-story you detailed in the book? How could a pastor, church leader, begin to find the path toward revitalization?
Sam >>> The first step in a revitalization is almost always evangelism. In our research at Church Answers, the biggest problem at most churches is a lack of outreach and evangelism. Church leaders must begin with themselves. Evangelistic churches have evangelistic pastors and church leaders.
Phil >>> Sam, please write a prayer church champions can pray that leads to a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed revitalization of their congregation...
Sam >>> Lord, give me a heart for my neighbors and give me a heart for the nations. Please give me more opportuntities to share your good news. Place people in my life who are receptive to the work of the Spirit. May I give you glory through sharing the gospel. Amen.
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