It’s Wednesday after our first Set Free Retreat this past weekend. Something significant, something different, something only the Holy Spirit could orchestrate is happening in our church. This weekend, 47 people experienced new freedom in their lives as they dealt with sin and invited inner healing. This weekend happened two years after a phone call from Brian Derksen of our District Office.
As I think back to what was going through my heart and mind before Brian called and invited me to a Church Renewal Weekend conference, I can honestly say that there has been a transformation of my heart for kingdom ministry. One image I have of pastoral ministry before October 2016 is of a shotgun, and now I would characterize it as more of a rifle. Previous to Church Renewal, I seemed to be taking care of the latest crisis or thing that was affecting us while not really having time or tools to be proactive. I was running around trying to do everything and accomplishing little. Busy, which felt good, but not making much headway.
When I experienced the Church Renewal Weekend including the Set Free Retreat, things began to shift. For perhaps the first time in pastoral ministry life, I could see a way forward that had a realistic plan, a mentor to walk with, and a group to journey with. The incredible thing is that it isn’t anything new. Church Renewal is about recovering the practices of the church that have been lost and or neglected for years and years. The genius of Church Renewal is that it helps recover these and place them in the life of the church in such a way as to make a difference in lives. The key is the practice of the disciplines. As is mentioned regularly in mentoring, we know way more than we are doing. Church Renewal teaches and then provides a place and tools to practice what is taught.
Before ever implementing anything new, my heart needed to be renewed. Church Renewal emphasizes that in order for a church to be renewed, the lead pastor must be renewed, and this is what is happening to me. Out of that, I am able to lead staff, elders, other leaders, and our congregation into renewal using the tools and strategies of Church Renewal under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit. So far, we have begun a new emphasis on prayer by adjusting our service time to provide for an hour of learning about prayer and practicing, a seminar called Hearing God where our people learn about the ways God speaks to us, and the aforementioned Set Free Retreat. We are at the beginning of our journey of renewal and are experiencing God move by His Spirit in ways we have not. We give Him all the praise and credit for beginning to inhabit us, grow us, and change us.