At the Center for Church Renewal, we often highlight that “culture eats strategy for lunch” (a similar statement was first coined by Peter Drucker). In other words, shared values are more important than shared plans. If, for example, a renewal congregation develops plans for welcoming neighbors but has the unspoken value of remaining a small, monocultural gathering, then their value of exclusion will suppress all plans of inclusion. Any renewal movement must place equal weight on culture and strategy. In other words, we must change the atmosphere (culture) and journey to mission (strategy).
Here are 7 renewal values (cultural passions) that foster renewal:
Value 1: Nurtured “First Love”
Jesus’ encouragement to the hard working, theologically pure, completely unfaltering Ephesians was to regain their “first love” (Rev. 2:4). A culture that daily nurtures a deep love for Jesus is the primary prerequisite of renewal.
Value 2: Passion For The Gospel
Central to renewal is the desire to tell and re-tell the story of God’s plan through Jesus’s finished work: to bring life to all those who repent and believe, and to establish a Kingdom of justice and mercy (His shalom) here on earth.
Value 3: Spirit Obedience
True renewal is the result of the Holy Spirit’s renewing winds blowing through a congregation. Only the “Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6). Congregations with a ready “yes” to the Spirit’s nudging(s) are prepared for renewal.
Value 4: Unusual Hospitality
The primary reason seekers don’t participate in a local church is that churches, in their estimation, are too judgmental. It’s our job to love sinners (including, of course, all of us). It’s God’s job to clean up the mess sin produces.
Value 5: Whimsical Imagination
Many churches are just boring. They lack both creative imagination and delight in joyful experimentation. Renewal depends on attempting new ways of being, knowing that we are perfectly structured to get the results we are already getting.
Value 6: Compassion For The Least And The Last
Nothing is more central to congregational renewal than fresh investments in the care for those who are homeless, hungry, imprisoned, lonely, abandoned, or depressed. Renewal begins when churches seek mercy before sacrifice.
Value 7: Grace-Filled Generosity
Generosity was a mark of the Spirit-born church (Acts 2:45). This must include cultural generosity that welcomes “every nation, tribe, people and language” to worship side-by-side with us before the throne of the Lamb (Rev. 7:9).