by Byron Pellecer, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Texas Based)
Contrary to popular belief, through the work and presence of the Holy Spirit, God can plant, replant, revive, refresh, renew and recommission the church. Christ’s Spirit is real, not just a ‘Christian doctrine’ or an insert in church worship liturgy.
“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62 NRSV). Among the many theological interpretations for this text, in my opinion, this is God’s call to enter, live, and share his kingdom with others. Entering, living, and sharing should not be disassociated from each other.
The Church, whether it is emerging or established, is not just an institution or an organization or a club for good deeds. The Church is a living entity, an organism, and a sign of the Kingdom of God.
Despite being a living entity, some research suggest that the Church in North America faces a critical juncture regarding church plateau and decline.
Amid this challenge, it appears that the church could use a vibrant ministry to experience a revival and a renewal. However, revitalization, like church planting, is a process, it does not happen overnight and it demands changes, prayer, and a solid biblical foundation.
One might be tempted to blame the declining of the church on post-Christendom, post-modernity, the emergence of technology, lack of theological identity, social-economic changes and yet, one is also challenged to consider the spiritual health condition of the Church which is rarely addressed.
On the one hand, I affirm that the church is called to holistic witnessing. In part, its social purpose is to be devoted to assist people in need and to be a prophetic voice announcing the good news and denouncing ‘sin’ in any form or shape. The Church is also instrumental in providing pastoral-spiritual care. Thus, the church needs to be reminded that salvation, peace and justice and human holistic welfare are part of its business.
Can the church provide sustenance to mitigate both the physical and spiritual hunger of the soul? Departmentalizing and program developing to address those challenges are common to the church. One challenge does not supersede the other, the church needs to address them as one and as second nature.
On the other, the church needs to be spiritually healthy to provide spiritual direction to its parishioners and to the community that attempts to witness. An altruistic approach alone is not enough! Any social club or non-religious organization with means can do that.
If part of the answer lies in revival and renewal, then I will argue that the church should consider earnest prayers and serious biblical foundation experiences like the ones found in texts like Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:1-11; Acts 6:1-7; John 5:39; Joshua 1:3-9; Jeremiah 29:7 and Nehemiah 2:17 just to name a few. Hence, I think we need the resurrection -life giving- experience in our daily lives, as individuals and as a church.
Church revitalization and Church Planting are spiritual endeavors. Thus, primarily we need a spiritual approach and then, a good strategy, the missional approach. Likewise, it is also key to wrestle with the dream-vision and ministry-purpose of emerging and established congregations.
It is not just an organization; the church is an organism because of God’s sustaining breath of life, not because of human effort. Through the work and presence of the Holy Spirit, God can plant, replant, revive, refresh, renew and recommission the church.
I pray to God to continue pouring out his Spirit, for a Pentecost experience, and for the fivefold ministry in our WDC congregations.