The Importance of Spiritual Renewal
When we started our replant, we had all the tools to implement structural and administrative renewal in our congregation. We read all the books, we listened to the podcasts, we went to all the conferences. We were equipped to begin the hard work of changing culture and engaging our community. We were prepared for conflict and criticism.
But we weren’t prepared for one thing– the need for our own spiritual renewal. We worked tirelessly to patch holes in what many times felt like a sinking ship– all while feeling like we, ourselves, were drowning.
Perhaps you feel this way today. Perhaps you are like the pastor Jimbo was counseling who, when Jimbo reminded him not to let a situation steal his joy, responded with, “What joy?”
I’ve been there. If I’m being really transparent, I’m still there some days.
Thankfully, the fellas at Replant Bootcamp addressed this need and gave us some keys to living a renewed life: Joy, Prayer, Worship, and Resting in Christ.
Renewed by Joy
“Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12
Do you remember the “joy of your salvation?” The moment that you realized that Christ had forgiven you of your sins and you no longer carried the penalty of death and eternal separation? I do. There was such peace in that moment. I prayed at the altar and when I stood up, I felt completely different. I was changed. The fear and anxiety that I carried with me at all times seemed to fall off; it was like a heavy coat was removed from my shoulders. I was happy and excited for the future, because I knew that from now on Jesus was in control.
When I think back to that day so many years ago, I remember that feeling of peace and joy. I find myself praying with David that God would restore to me the joy of that day, just as David does in Psalm 51, verse 12.
But we sometimes forget that verse 12 is one of 19 verses. And that Psalm 51 is not merely David calling out to God for joy– it is David’s confession to sin and his shame. David’s request for restoration comes only after his repentance.
When I find myself lacking the joy of my salvation– that feeling of awe and wonder that God would forgive my sins– it’s often because I am struggling with those very same sins. Before I can pray Psalm 51:12, I have to pray through Psalm 51:1-11, and especially verse 10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
There is a temptation for us as Christians to fail to recognize our need for continued sanctification. The sin of pride leads us to believe that we can live in the same way as the lost world and have no consequences. But in order to experience spiritual renewal, we must examine our lives and see if we have allowed sin to creep in.
Ephesians 4:17-24 tells us that the lost world will act in a certain way– they will be callous, sexually immoral, greedy to practice impurity. But in verse 20, Paul writes, “But that is not the way you learned Christ.” He calls us to something different, something new. He writes that we as Christians will experience a spiritually renewed mind when we remember to change out of our old selves and to put on our new self. It is a picture of removing a filthy, smelly old coat and instead wearing a new, fresh, and clean one. Paul is saying that we are called to look, act, and be different than the lost world
When I find myself lacking joy, one of the hardest things to do is to admit that perhaps I am not feeling the joy of my salvation because I am not seeking the things of God as much as I did then. Perhaps it is not that God feels distant, but that I have moved too far from Him.
Reminding myself to seek God and His purpose and plan brings me back into a restored relationship. When I repent and acknowledge my sins, I am able to once again experience the joy of knowing that I am never too far from God’s grace and mercy.
Joy comes not only when I remember what Christ has done for me, but also what He continues to do.
Renewed by Prayer and Worship
It seems clear, doesn’t it? When you need spiritual renewal, going to God in prayer and worshiping Him seem like obvious first steps. But I often unintentionally leave it as one of the last steps I take.
In our world as Replant pastors, there is a temptation for prayer and worship to be relegated to Sunday morning duties. My own daily prayer time can get pushed aside as I strive to complete ministry related tasks. As a Worship Leader at our church, listening to Worship music becomes less about tuning my heart toward God and more about listening for specific instruments and vocal parts.
When I feel a need for spiritual revival, I will often turn toward advice from others to help. I will talk to trusted Christian friends about it, read books about it, and even ask others to pray for me. When I’ve exhausted those options, I usually feel a little tug on my heart… God will remind me that I’ve talked to everyone but Him.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we seek God, He gives us the promise of His peace to protect our troubled minds.
Worshiping God with our lives and our actions results in spiritual renewal. My aunt used to tell me all the time that the key to fighting discouragement was to find someone to help. She’s onto something there– when I meet someone else’s needs, I am acting as the hands and feet of Jesus. And this act of worship turns my heart and mind from anxiety and worry to a renewed sense of peace and purpose.
Renewed by Rest
Man… If there’s one thing I know, it’s that there is so much work to do in a Replant. I often tease my husband that he is incapable of just resting when a project is done. He is always looking to the next thing, because there is a never ending list of things that need to be done.
Unfortunately, that is reality for many of us in this type of calling. There is always something that demands our attention and time. We could spend our days from here to eternity on the next building improvement or maintenance project, the next community outreach, the next evangelism training, the next new member’s class… (I could keep going, but I’m starting to exhaust myself!) And, if you’re in the early days of your replant, it’s likely all falling on you until you have more leaders equipped to help.
There are multiple problems with getting too little rest, from physical health risks to emotional and mental struggles. But for us as Christians, one of our biggest issues with too little rest is that we often try to find our rest in the same place we find our worth– our own selves.
When I try to find rest in myself, it can seem almost impossible. Last week I told a friend that I was so mentally tired, even resting felt like a chore that needed to be penciled into my schedule. Trying to get enough sleep while also trying to do everything that needed to be done resulted in me being so anxious that I actually woke up at 3 am in a panic because I needed to do laundry (true story). I relied on my own strength to get it all done.
But spiritual renewal requires us to rest in the right place– we must rest in Christ and in His faithfulness. When we are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, looking to the past can help us remember that Christ has been faithful and we can find true rest in knowing that just as Christ has met our needs in the past, He will continue to be faithful in the future. Think back on those times that God met your needs in the past. Was everything done on your timetable? Probably not. But God used His timing to bring His plans to fruition. He will continue to do so.
Our rest can be found in Christ. Do you believe that Christ loves your church and your congregation? Do you believe that Christ loves you? Then we can trust that He is using your present circumstances for His glory.
NAMB Replant Summit 2023- a Time for Renewal
All of these thoughts come as we at Replant Bootcamp prepare for the Replant Summit in Atlanta on August 28-29. The theme this year is “Renew.” We will have multiple guest speakers and breakout sessions to help you (and your spouse) experience spiritual renewal. It is an awesome time of refreshing words, songs, and fellowship with replant pastors and spouses from all over the U.S. If you haven’t already registered, please do so! You will not regret taking this time to refresh your spirit!