Monday, October 08, 2007
I have just finished one of the best books I have read in a long time. From Embers to a Flame by Harry L. Reeder III is a biblical study in how God can revitalize a struggling church. The strength of this book is that it is not another study in worn out church growth principles, one size fits all church programs or warmed over Rick Warren principles. Embers to a flame presents a biblical and theological approach to Church revitalization. This book is timely and needed. Reeder quotes Kirk Hadaway, a SBC research specialist in chp. 1 "The typical church in almost any American denomination is either on a plateau or declining in membership and participation. Rapid growth is atypical, and among older congregations the pattern is even more pronounced - plateau and decline are the rule; growth is the exception."
What is most refreshing about this book is the emphasis Reeder places on the basics of Church life in revitalization. He builds his chapters on the biblical paradigm of revitalization, the Gospel of grace and its power to bring life to a church, the role of prayer, the ministry of preaching the Word, leadership multiplication, mission and vision, and discipleship.
The chapter on the Gospel of God's grace is worth the price of the book. Understanding the Gospel and the story of redemption that runs throughout the Bible is necessary for the life and health of the church. The focus of the church must Jesus Christ, the hero of the Gospel. A struggling church often finds itself overwhelmed with financial and staff issues, and at times conflict management. Our eyes must remain firmly fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He is the one who builds His church and His power is the true source of new life for a dying congregation. The gospel must be believed, preached and fleshed out for the world to see. Paul tells us that it is the power of God unto salvation. What this means is that there is hope. No church is too far gone for Christ to revitalize. What we must realize is that no amount of programs or organizational theories can revive a dying church. Only the power of God can accomplish this. Now that is a message all of us pastors sorely need to hear!