Forward Today: Renewing the church

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

In the last two weeks, I’ve been traveling quite a bit. As I mentioned in last week’s Forward Today, I went to Vancouver to talk with folks about how our church does well to get back to basics. In this post-Christendom era, we shouldn’t assume that people magically know how to pray or to use a Bible.

Bishop Doug Scharf asked me to come speak at the annual convention of the Diocese of Southwest Florida last weekend. He is seeking to guide the diocese toward congregational revitalization efforts. What I appreciate about his approach is that there are no gimmicks. Renewal of the church comes from the renewal of lives, and THAT comes from a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ.

In my keynote address, I spoke about the reality of decline our churches are facing. And I shared some RenewalWorks data to show that many of us in the church are in need of spiritual growth. We’re all always in need of spiritual growth, but our church has some folks who are stuck in a spiritually early stage of growth. The point of this isn’t to shame or blame anyone, but rather to encourage practices that lead to growth.

We all need to get unstuck sometimes. Read the Bible, and you encounter a whole book full of people who almost never followed a straight-line journey of faith. That’s one of the beautiful things about reading God’s word. We can realize that when we stray or mess up or doubt, we are in excellent company. And we can also read the scriptures to know how to get unstuck.

First, getting unstuck requires God’s grace and mercy. Good news: they’re never in short supply! And the practices of daily prayer, regular scripture reading, and weekly church attendance are the foundations of a healthy spiritual life.

If you want to watch my whole keynote to hear what I had to say, the diocese has made the recording available online. It’s about 90 minutes, so I won’t expect you to sit through it all! But in the talk, I hope you’ll find some encouragement both for you individually and for your church.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. I mentioned two books in my talk. You can find both my book, The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus, and Jay Sidebotham’s book, Signs of Life: Nurturing Spiritual Growth in Your Church at Forward Movement or your favorite bookseller.

More from our ministry:

Revitalize your spiritual life with daily prayer: Forward Day by Day

Get ready for Advent with our new devotional: Preparing the Way

Scripture to support spiritual practices: The Way of Love Bible Challenge