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Someone pointed out that “truth is elliptical.” An ellipsis (i.e. an oval) has twin foci compared to the single foci of a circle. Christian doctrine, this person noted, is based on several theological twins: truth & grace, fully God & fully human, knowable & unknowable, sovereignty & free-will (just to name a few). Similarly, church renewal is elliptical.  Renewal only happens when churches invest in the following twins.

Here are six sets of renewal twins:

Prayer & Planning

Renewal demands the work of the Spirit and the creation of new structures. Renewal congregations spend equal time on their knees in prayer and standing at a whiteboard in planning. The Benedictines described their ministry focus as “Ora et Labora” … prayer and work. Renewal congregations, like the Benedictines, are committed to submitting and doing, listening and working, being inspired and inspiring.

Gospel & Justice

Renewed congregations pulsate with the energy of John 3:16 & Micah 6:8. In other words, renewed congregations are communities of grace focused on the Gospel and communities of blessing focused on mercy and justice. God’s renewal work is about redemption (redeeming everyone He has called) and restoration (restoring everything He has created).

Culture & Strategy

Renewal congregations are committed to “changing the atmosphere” (a cultural shift) and “journeying to mission” (a strategic plan). A church’s culture and strategy must be aligned or it will soon become obvious that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” Culture and strategy must walk hand-in-hand.

More & Better

Renewal congregations place equal emphasis on disciple-making and faith formation. They are concerned about reaching those who are disconnected from faith and faith family while also maturing the connected. They have a heart for unbelievers and believers with both an outside and an inside vision.

Past & Present

Renewal congregations acknowledge that God’s grace has shaped their congregational story. That story should be recalled and celebrated. Most importantly, the missional values that shaped the congregation’s past should become fuel for next-step congregational investments. Still, even as renewal congregations learn from their past their focus is always on the present and the future. They are formed by the past without being anchored to the past.

Leadership & Ownership

Renewal congregations understand that “as leaders go … so goes the church.” They empower leaders to lead (granting them unusual levels of trust and permission) while also understanding that renewal demands ownership of the entire congregation. Renewal happens when leaders lead and congregations invest. 

In multiple ways, church renewal is elliptical. Are these renewal twins flourishing in your church family?

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