Tag Archives: Revive

Forward Today: Discipleship and citizenship

Dear friends in Christ,

Yesterday, I was invited to join a conversation about discipleship on a regular series called Pew & Beyond. It’s run by Neil Mancor and Lisa Vaughn, friends who work on congregational vitality in the Anglican Church of Canada. We had a good time talking, and there were lively comments from the viewers. If you have an hour to watch Neil, Lisa, and I talk amongst ourselves and interact with viewers, I commend the video to you.

During the conversation, we talked about lots of things, most especially spiritual growth. How do we move from being spiritual couch potatoes to being spiritually healthy? We also talked about a new offering from Forward Movement, Revive for Lent. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to engage spiritual growth using a video-based series this Lent.

Someone asked about the relationship between discipleship and citizenship. Given recent events, in which violence was perpetrated by people claiming to be Christians, I thought it was a timely topic. It wouldn’t be hard to write a book on this topic, but in today’s email, I just want to share a few quick thoughts.

Discipleship is about the journey of individuals in following Jesus, but it can only be done in community. In other words, for a disciple there is always personal accountability and accountability to a wider community. So too it is with citizenship. There is work I must do as a citizen, but I must also attend to the well-being of my community.

It strikes me that this balance of individual and community is something that we often get wrong with disastrous results. In the church, if we fail to teach personal ownership of our spiritual journey, we end up with churches full of people who do not have a prayer life or an immersion in the scriptures. Conversely, if we fail to emphasize community, we end up with a selfish focus on personal spiritual achievement, which is quite the opposite of the sacrificial love that Jesus taught and lived.

So too it is with citizenship. If we fail to emphasize personal accountability, we effectively abrogate our leadership to any number of people who would hijack a nation for their own personal interests. And if we fail to emphasize community, we see a selfish view of citizenship that does not care for those at the margins.

In the coming weeks, I hope we can all reflect on our work as disciples of Jesus and as citizens of whatever nation we inhabit. We have many blessings to enjoy, but we also have much work to do.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director



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Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!


In case you missed it…

New release: With Gladness | Forward movement

Spiritual Truth in an Age of Fake News | ChurchNext

Use REVIVELENT discount to purchase Revive and supplemental Lent material for $50 | Revive

Looking ahead to Lent? Here are some ideas. | Forward Movement

Submit a prayer | Christian Prayers from around the World

Join us on January 13th, 7pm est for RenewalWorks: Connect, featuring guest presenter: Dr. Lisa Kimball from Virginia Theological Seminary

When can I start Revive?

You can start Revive right now!

Our suggested start-up for your Revive small group is October, with the three, six-week modules rolled out over the program year: one in the fall, one during Epiphany and the final after Easter. Generally, this works well with the yearly momentum of the liturgical cycle. However, this ideal timing might have passed, and you might be worried you have to wait a whole year to begin.

Never fear! Start Revive whenever you can. The important thing is to just get started.

You will quickly realize the significant privilege of helping to revive the spiritual connection within you, between your people, and with God.

Here are some other scheduling options for Revive:

January Start-up Schedule

  • Invite Participants: End of November-early January
  • Start with opening retreat and Module 1: early-mid January
  • Module 2: possibly during Lent or after Easter
  • Module 3: possibly after Easter, over the summer or in the fall
  • Considerations:
    • If you live in the northern hemisphere you will likely have to contend with inclement weather. You might think about adding one or two extra “snow day” sessions.
    • Depending on when Lent occurs in the calendar, you might have to start the small group sessions early January in order to fit them all in.


Lent Start-up Schedule

  • Invite Participants: during Epiphany
  • Start opening retreat and Module 1: during Lent
  • Module 2: after Easter
  • Module 3: possibly over the summer or in the fall
  • Considerations:
    • It might be a challenge scheduling the Opening Retreat and all six sessions into the five weeks of Lent. Possible solutions might be to modify the program down to five sessions or simply meet a week or two before Lent.
    • Module 2 and 3 will roll out over Eastertide or into the summer and fall.


Eastertide Start-up Schedule

        • Invite Participants: during Lent
        • Start opening retreat and Module 1: during Eastertide (6 weeks after Easter)
        • Module 2: during summer or fall
        • Module 3: possibly in the fall or winter
        • Considerations:
          • There will likely be a summer break between Module 1 and 2 which could give participants leisure time to rehearse the various prayer practices.


Read more guest posts from Revive here.

To learn more, visit the Revive website.

The downloadable program materials may be purchased here.

Pre-printed Participant Guides are available here.

Who should lead Revive?

Typically, the facilitator of the program is a ministry leader of the congregation, such as the rector, lead pastor, senior minister or another clergyperson. This is not a requirement, since anyone can lead Revive. We have purposefully used the word minister to signal that the facilitator can be ordained or lay.

However, our feedback surveys say that Revive has greatest impact in changing culture and equipping spiritual leadership when the facilitator is the senior minister and the participants hold leadership positions within the congregation.

Our surveys also indicate that the strongest reason why people were willing to participate in Revive was because their ministry leader personally invited them. If you want further evidence of the effectiveness of this model of discipleship you may want to examine Jesus’ call and spiritual formation of his disciples.

By the way, facilitators do not have to be advanced masters of spiritual direction, but they should be intentional about their own spiritual growth and open to a relational connection with God.

-Dawn Davis, Revive creator

Read more guest posts from Revive here.

To learn more, visit the Revive website.

The downloadable program materials may be purchased here.

Pre-printed Participant Guides are available here.

What do you receive when you download Revive?

Dawn Davis, creator of Revive

Revive is a one-time purchase that gives you access to all the materials you need to run the program. The only restrictions are that you not share the materials and passwords with others, and not use the program as a “consultant” with many churches and institutions.

When you purchase Revive you will receive an email with a link to download the program materials.

That download includes:

  • Introductory Letter
  • Facilitator Guide
  • Participant Guide
  • Revive Promotional Flyer


Within the Introductory Letter you will find the link and password which enables you to access the 30 videos presentations. We recommend you download each video to your local device, to avoid streaming challenges during a session.

The Facilitator and Participant Guides are both in the form of a PDF that you can download, print, and copy. If you’d like to avoid the copy machine, we do sell pre-printed participant guides, but those are optional since you already have all the materials.

You also have access to this blog, other resources and a community of Revive facilitators and participants who share their experiences and insights about Revive and spiritual growth.

Ultimately, what you get from Revive is a community of leaders that are excited, confident and spiritually growing in their love for God and others. Here are a few comments from former Revive participants:

“Revive gave me the yearned for opportunity to share my spiritual experiences, my doubts, to question and to listen. It challenged me out of my comfort zone and helped me be open to new experiences. It gave me a deepened spiritual relationship with God. I now seek to recognize God in the everyday stuff of life.”

“Revive has given me the confidence to share my faith with others. I now feel I’m better equipped to learn, engage, teach and lead in my church community as well as in the community at large. Thank you!”

Read more guest posts from Revive here.

To learn more, visit the Revive website.

The downloadable program materials may be purchased here.

Pre-printed Participant Guides are available here.

How do I get started with Revive?

Dawn DavisDawn Davis, creator of Revive

So, you and your congregation have decided to start Revive. Now what?

Typically, the ministry leader invites up to 12 lay leaders to join the Revive group. Here are a few simple steps the ministry leader can take to get started.

1. Book when and where you want to meet for Revive
The meeting space for the Revive sessions should be a private setting where conversation will not be overheard or interrupted by other groups or church activities. The room should be large enough to accommodate the group size and be comfortable and inviting. Chairs should be placed in a circle, with a central table for displaying flowers or sacred objects. A screen, projector or TV will be needed if you are showing the videos. Smaller groups are able to use a laptop for this purpose.

Time of Meetings: Revive sessions can be held during the day or evenings. Consult with a few people you invited, check your calendar and make your best decision about a time slot. There is no perfect time for Revive, so you will likely miss a few leaders because of the day and time of the meetings. Remember, there is always next year!

Opening and Closing Retreats: The opening and closing retreats typically take an evening and a day (e.g. Friday and Saturday) and are most effective when they are scheduled as closely as possible to the running of the modules. The retreats can be held at the church or at a retreat facility that is within reasonable driving distance. Participants can return to their homes on Friday evening or arrangements can be made for them to stay overnight. Saturday lunch can be a simple sandwich and fruit meal. If the Friday and Saturday time slots are impossible, then here are two other options: 1) All day Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.—cut out worship and make storytelling shorter by using smaller breakout groups, then turn the spiritual preferences exercise in session C into homework. 2) Two nights from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.—eliminate worship and focus on storytelling and turn the session C spiritual preferences exercise into homework).

2. Create a leaders list
Write down the names of the people in your congregation who attend the church’s governance meetings (vestry, session, boards). Add to the list others who lead particular ministries such as church school, youth, pastoral, music, worship arrangements, property, stewardship or outreach ministries. Finally, add one or two names of people who may not presently hold leadership roles but who serve as informal or up-and-coming leaders in the congregation.

Form a shortlist: Now sit back, take a deep breath and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to provide insight, grace and discernment as you begin to decide who will join you on this spiritual journey. The maximum number of Revive participants for the small group should be 12, therefore you might want to invite as many as 20 people from your leader list and indicate that participation is on a first come, first served basis. It is important to cap the number of participants at 12. Our experience has shown that the small-group process on which Revive is based does not work with beyond this size.

Small parish: If you have a small parish, your leaders list may be fewer than 12 people. This is fine! The smallest Revive group I know of was made up of two participants and it went very well. My personal preference is six participants, since this size gives everyone ample time to speak and get to know one another.

Safe, non-judgmental space: It is essential that a trusting and safe environment be established in the group in order to facilitate spiritual growth. If there is a person on the leaders list who is gifted in ministry but would struggle to maintain the safe space for others, then you should reconsider inviting them, especially for the first year or two of Revive while it is getting established.

Concerns: If you are worried that some people might feel excluded by not being invited to Revive, simply tell them that you were trying to form a particular mix of people and there will be opportunities to do the program in the future, if you believe this to be true.

3. Invite
Open the Revive facilitator’s guide to the Sample Revive Invitation Letter (page xiii). Copy and paste it to a word processing file, insert the date and times of the retreats and sessions and modify it as needed. Put the letter on parish letterhead and send it out to the people on your shortlist.

4. Recruit
Reach out to those you have invited asking them if they have received your letter, have any questions and if they have considered becoming a participant. Track their responses as you may need to follow-up. If you have administrative assistance, you may want to amend the invitation letter asking people to reply to him or her. This way, your administrative assistant can track the responses to the invitation and update you as needed.

Email Follow-up: After a couple of weeks you may want to send out a follow-up email to remind those invited of your interest to have them participate in Revive. See the Sample Revive Email Invitation Follow-up (page xiv) in the Facilitator’s Guide.

5. Download the guides and videos.
When purchasing Revive, it is really important you use the links provided to download the Facilitator and Participant Guides and all 30 videos to the hard drive of your computer or a storage device you can easily access. Church Wi-Fi services are notoriously unstable, so it is best not to rely them when leading a session. Instructions for downloading videos can be found in the Read Me First welcome letter you receive after purchase.

6. Begin reviewing the material in the Facilitator Guide
Open the Facilitator Guide and read the Table of Contents, Introduction and Course Overview. Then start in on the Opening Retreat and the first couple of sessions. The retreats and each session start with a preparation list that conveniently informs you of any material you need to gather before the session.

7. Participant Guide
Make a copy of the participant guide for each participant.

You are ready to begin Revive!

Read more guest posts from Revive here.

To learn more, visit the Revive website.

The downloadable program materials may be purchased here.

Pre-printed Participant Guides are available here.

Is Revive right for your congregation?

Dawn DavisBy Dawn Davis, creator of Revive

Do your lay leaders seem tired? Do you yearn for a deeper spiritual connection? Do your laity lack confidence engaging in spiritual leadership, such as leading a public prayer?

Is your congregation experiencing change and you are not sure what to do about it?

At one point I answered yes to all these questions. That is when I began creating Revive.

I had just been appointed to a parish that found itself in the midst of unexpected demographic changes (parishioners were aging, the community was changing, and attendance was beginning to decline). I was also recovering from a decade of leading a demanding program ministry at the diocese which left me feeling depleted. To top it off, my husband and I had just started a family, which brought insurmountable joy, but was shaking our ordered life to its foundations.

Both at home and in the parish, I sensed excitement laced with exhaustion and confusion. Up to this point in the church, we had mastered all circumstances with self-reliance, ingenuity, and good old elbow grease. Now we were uncertain, and our efforts seemed inadequate. All typical solutions to fix the problem seemed in vain. We were being brought to our knees and—consequently—to a deeper relationship with the living God.

I was trained as a pastor, liturgist, and theologian, and later in human resources and management. What did I know about how to facilitate another person’s spiritual growth? That kind of thing was supposed to happen privately and discreetly through good worship. Anglicans operated with the assumption: “Come to church and you will grow.” This passive approach to discipleship—the core mandate of the church—might have been good enough when we were building the empire but in this secular, post-Christian context, it was woefully inadequate, and suitable resources were few.

It is often at these emotionally depleted moments that the most profound spiritual encounters happen. God actually has a fighting chance of being heard through the cacophony of distractions, anxiety, and self-interested ego. I found I was being called back to my ministry beginnings, to my original love of God. As a congregation, we were being asked to encounter Jesus anew so as to pattern our lives after his. We were being invited to trust in the renewing and life-giving energy of the Spirit.

Your story might not be exactly like mine. It might be less, or even more dramatic. But there is no denying it; our church and our communities are in the midst of enormous change where the old, easy answers don’t work anymore. Maybe this is the space where truth, discovered in mystery, emerges, and a new call together begins.

My prayer is that Revive may serve you, not as a silver bullet to save your church, but as a relational way for lay leaders and clergy to find their way to God together, following Christ, and being healed, renewed, and enlivened in the Spirit.

May you be revived!

Read more guest posts from Revive here.

To learn more, visit the Revive website.

The downloadable program materials may be purchased here.

Pre-printed Participant Guides are available here.

What is Revive?

Revive is a series of small group sessions that equips lay leaders to grow as spiritual leaders. Typically, lay leaders meet with a ministry leader for an opening and closing retreat and three six-week sessions to explore their spiritual lives, deepen their relationship with God and become proficient as spiritual leaders.

In a safe, non-judgmental setting, filled with warm humour, they learn a lot about themselves and others, and connect more deeply with God.

Revive is offered as a form of thanks to lay leaders who give so much to their church. Church ministry often involves important concerns for budgets, property, and people. But these concerns distract lay leaders from spiritually growing in a relationship with Christ.

Through Revive, lay leaders become confident with prayer and scripture, and they learn to see their ministry as a vocation. They also learn practical skills that are invaluable for their tasks and activities within the congregation.

What is the structure of the sessions?
Each Revive session typically runs for two hours and includes:

  • an icebreaker
  • a presentation (using the Revive video series, or presented by facilitator)
  • a discussion
  • an exercise
  • a take-home practice


The six-week sessions (referred to as Module 1, 2 and 3 in Revive materials) are usually held in the fall, winter and spring to avoid the busy church seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.

Here is a sample schedule for a typical full year with Revive, though you can customize to your needs:

  • Week 1 (mid-August): Letter invitation sent out. Registration begins
  • Week 8 (early October): Registration ends, Opening Retreat is held
  • Week 9 (early October): Module 1, Communicating with God, begins
  • Week 14 (mid-November): Module 1 ends
  • Week 23 (mid-January): Module 2, Engaging in Scripture, begins
  • Week 28 (early March): Module 2, ends
  • Week 35 (mid-April): Module 3, Called for Ministry, begins
  • Week 41 (late May): Module 3, ends
  • Week 42 (early June): Closing Retreat.


Purchasing Revive Materials
When you purchase Revive (here), you get everything you need to run the program, including the facilitator and participant guides, and access to 30 short video presentations. Everything you need can be downloaded and printed as needed. The full program costs $299 (USD).

To save time at the copy machine, we do offer pre-printed participant guides for an additional charge.

Ministry leaders invite as many as 12 lay leaders to participate in Revive. Together, clergy, pastoral ministers and lay people deepen and grow in their faith as followers of Christ. It is the journey of a lifetime as you revive!


Read more guest posts from Revive here.

Forward Today: Revive

Dear friends in Christ,

I have a confession. When new folks step up to serve on the vestry or another key leadership role in the congregation or diocese, I pray for them. Of course, I pray for God to grant them wisdom and patience as they steer the church. But I also pray this: Dear God, let them still want to be a part of the church when their vestry term is complete.

Seeing how the sausage is made isn’t pretty. Because churches are institutions with human beings, they have all the foibles and flaws of humans. We might expect (and hope and pray) that church folks will extend grace and see Christ in one another—and many times, we do. But as humans, we also have the capacity to be mean-spirited, petty, territorial, and stubborn. And when this happens in our churches—places that we hope will be a sanctuary from this type of behavior—we can become disillusioned and disheartened. I should know. After nearly two decades of working for church organizations and as the wife of a priest, I have been there, broken-hearted and soul-weary.

Small group praying

That’s one of the reasons I am so excited about the work of the Rev. Canon Dawn Davis of the Diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada. She recognized that the administrative functions of church leadership—making sure the bills are paid and the facilities are maintained—often become the focus for church leaders, and spiritual growth and nurture fall to the wayside. It’s easier to mark off tangible items on a to-do list than to engage in the messy, non-linear work of strengthening our spiritual lives.

And yet, without our connection and relationship to God, we are simply social service agencies that meet on Sunday mornings. When we don’t have the time or energy to respond to the deep calling of God, we eventually become empty vessels, unable to keep leading effectively and aching for everlasting water.

Dawn spent time with church leaders and began developing a response that she has shaped today into Revive. This small-group discipleship program celebrates the faithful service of lay leaders and offers them the gift of exploring their faith journey and discerning their calling.

Over the course of ten months, lay leaders experience different ways to pray and study God’s word as well as learn how to confidently lead groups in prayer or Bible study. The program invites participants to explore and discover spiritual practices that will feed them, so that once nourished, they might go and help others grow in love of Christ and neighbor.

Having spent significant time with the resources of Revive, I believe they can transform the experience of church leadership so that at the end of service on a vestry or diocesan committee, leaders might not feel drained and exhausted but rather reinvigorated and revived, fortified by a deeper relationship with God and with each other and ready for new opportunities to serve and be served.

Yours in Christ,

Revive logoRichelle Thompson
Deputy Director and Managing Editor

Revive is now available. 

Today’s Flash Sale: A Journey with Luke

Journey with LukeA masterful storyteller with the compassion of a physician, Luke paints a picture of Jesus as healer, full of mercy, forgiveness, and love. The Gospel of Luke features the lovely Magnificat, Mary’s love song to God, and the nativity story heard in Christmas pageants around the world. Luke includes three parables not heard in any other gospel: the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, and the unjust judge. Luke, also believed to be the author of the book of Acts, emphasizes prayer as central to the life of faith.

Join the journey with Luke with fifty days of scripture readings, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from around the world. A Journey with Luke is part of a series of fifty-day Bible studies and is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with the Word of God.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time