Written by Bill Whitt
November 27, 2023

The Gravitational Force of Gratitude

Gratitude has a gravitational effect, pulling church renewal efforts along when nothing else seems to work.
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Gratitude has a gravitational effect, pulling church renewal efforts along when nothing else seems to work. Earlier, when I wrote about the “Physics of Church Renewal,” I listed several principles church leaders can leverage to get congregations unstuck and back on mission. One massive force of nature I did not mention then was the simple power of saying, “Thank you.”

  • I believe gratitude might be the single weightiest item on church leaders’ to-do lists. It’s easy to skip past it, believing that other tasks are more urgent and more important. However, gratitude can transform almost every area of ministry, so it is worth the intentional investment.
Five Ways Gratitude Drives Church Renewal
Renewal 1: The Leader’s Mindset
  • Those of us who work in church renewal often focus most of our energy on what is not working and what needs to change. No wonder our minds are often discontented or even depressed!
  • The gravity of gratitude can draw us back to a healthier mindset. Intentionally thanking God for the things that are going well can pull us toward hope and peace. Thanking God for what he has done in the past will help us have faith for the future!
Renewal 2: The Team’s Mindset
  • It is easy for church staff members and lay leaders to drown in the details of daily ministry and to lose sight of the big picture. Enthusiasm can fade as each week becomes a repeated routine and little more than that.
  • The gravity of gratitude can pull team members back toward a renewed passion for meaningful ministry. By asking them to share words of thanksgiving in meetings or in prayers, you can help them focus on the eternal impact behind their weekly work.
Renewal 3: The Mission Mindset
  • It has been said that what is rewarded is repeated. In teams where nothing is rewarded, each person will veer off on their own tangents rather than stay aligned with the church’s mission.
  • The gravity of gratitude can draw people back toward the mission and vision of the church. Words of gratitude are a potent way leaders can reward hard work and keep team members focused on the right goals.
Renewal 4: The Congregation’s Mindset
  • When passion and positivity fade in the congregation, forward progress grinds to a halt. Even in churches with objectively good results, people can remain stuck in the mire of cynicism and distrust.
  • The gravity of gratitude can pull congregants toward enthusiasm and joy. Whether it’s in a sermon, a newsletter article, or a personal phone call, pastors can lead people toward positivity by expressing thanks for all that is going well.
Renewal 5: A resilient Mindset
  • Scripture is clear that Christians are called to thank God in all circumstances (1 These. 5:18) — both good and bad times. Sometimes we utter words of thanks through clenched teeth, praying that God would help us believe what we’re saying. Still, this exercise is so valuable.
  • The gravity of gratitude can draw us upward to see God’s perspective on the trials we endure. Saying thank you for suffering seems counterintuitive unless you believe that God is in control of all things and is working all things for our good (Rom. 8:28). Gratitude forces us to at least consider that God may have bigger plans than we can understand, and this can keep us moving forward in the most difficult times.

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