The Church Renewal Journey is a disciple-making process that helps a church grow their members into On Mission Disciples. The laity of the church with pastoral involvement leads the Journey rather than another program that the pastor has to push.
The Journey has three major steps or phases that are accomplished in church weekend events, each one building on the previous step. They are:
The Church Renewal Weekend is the first step in the Journey and is called the Awakening Stage. It is a weekend of family building among the church members and is referred to as an inward journey. The main purpose of the weekend is to renew our relationship with the Lord, remembering who we are and whose we are and help us understand where we are along our Christian journey.
A visiting team of Christians from other churches come and participates with the church during the weekend, leading in praise songs and testimonies about where they are on their Journey. They are not Super Christians, just ones that are aware of their journey and are willing to testify about what the Lord is doing in their life at the present time.
The weekend begins at the church on Friday night with a church-wide meal, then a general session in the sanctuary. There are meetings in the church members homes on Saturday morning and separate men and ladies luncheon meetings. Free time is after lunch until Saturday evening when the church regroups for another meal and general session and special family prayer time.
Part of the Sunday School time in used for testimonies from home church members about what the weekend has meant to them and a special Sunday worship service completes the visiting team member’s part of the weekend. The highlight of the weekend is the Evaluation Service Sunday night, when the church as a body evaluates what the Holy Spirit has been saying to them during the Weekend.
The Lay Ministry Weekend is the second step or Activation Phase of the Journey and usually follows the Renewal Weekend in 6 to 12 months. This weekend is about understanding that we are all called, gifted and sent by the Almighty Creator, who desires to accomplish His work using us as His instruments in reconciling His creation back to Him.
This weekend deals with helping church members to realize that they are all called and gifted, not just pastors. This phase of the Journey is based around a weekend study about spiritual gifts, who has them and how the gifts are the used in ministry and how we can recognize them in each other.
The schedule of this weekend is similar to the Renewal weekend with the addition of a Bible Resource Leader, who teaches about Spiritual Gifts and ways we can discover our gifts and our SHAPE for ministry during each general session.
After the Saturday night general session, the church has a special Affirmation Service, where the church members, who have been studying about gifts and how to recognize them, get a chance to affirm and encourage each other in their giftedness and ministries or service. This is always a powerful time for the church as they encourage and build up the body as Christ instructed us to do.
On-Mission Church Weekend is the third step of the Journey and is the Advocacy phase. The weekend is similar to the Ministry Weekend but The On Mission Church Study is being taught during the general sessions.
When one realizes how we each are uniquely gifted and called to a variety of different ministries, we can understand why one person may see God working in a certain area and others may see him working in a totally different area.
We also learn that when we see Him working, our love for Him is what causes us to want to join Him in what He is doing rather than trying to do our own thing. No longer do we seek to do our own ideas of ministry in our timing, but we wait and join Him in His ministry in His timing. This study helps Christians, who want to serve, know that there is a BIG difference in doing His work His way rather than trying to do His work our way.
The next step in the Journey? By this time the church will be able to decide the direction the Lord is leading them and can choose among many options for their next step. Of course a church can start with any weekend they think they are ready for or go in a totally different direction as the Lord leads. Many other Church Renewal Journey weekends are available such as: Discipleship Weekends; Family Weekends; Life in the Spirit Weekends; Concentric Circles Weekends; and others.
For information about beginning your Church Renewal Journey contact:
Bob Brown, Church Revitalization Specialist
Carrie Smith, Ministry Assistant