See Revival Highlights from Journey into Mission Details of mission adventures in 20 countries, given in historical order. It includes early days as a single and then married teacher in Papua New Guinea and teaching in Australia and other countries.
God led Randy Clark into global revival ministries, particularly from the Toronto Blessing of January 1994. “The Lord said, ‘They’re not wanting you. They’re wanting Me.'”
Revival blessings continue to explode worldwide in evangelism, healing, miracles and signs and wonders as in the New Testament.
Randy Clark reads from his personal journal, recounting the events that lead up to the Toronto Blessing. Before revival comes, it starts with a group of people pressing hard after God, crying out for His presence to come.
Randy Clark wrote:
From the very beginning, the ministry that God gave me and my team has demonstrated that everyday Christians can operate in the supernatural. Today, the power of the Spirit is flowing everywhere from mission fields and shopping malls to grocery stores and even aboard airplanes.
Join me as I read from my personal journal on November 8, 2019, at Global Awakening School of Supernatural Ministry, recounting the events that led up to the Toronto Blessing. Up to that point, I had never journalled before in my life.
THE MEETING ON OCTOBER 27, 1993 IN MISSOURI, JUST WEEKS BEFORE THE TORONTO BLESSING (January 1994), WAS A VERY STRATEGIC TIME IN MY LIFE. MOVING IN THE POWER OF GOD WAS A DREAM COME TRUE. I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE ABLE TO PRAY FOR PEOPLE AND SEE HIS POWER COME ON THEM. THAT NIGHT WAS AWESOME. IT WAS LIKE WALKING IN ANOTHER DIMENSION. I ONLY HOPED THAT IT WOULD NOT BE A RARE OCCASION, BUT THAT GOD WOULD ALLOW ME TO VISIT THAT DIMENSION FREQUENTLY. I THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE HEAVEN.
Before revival comes, it starts with a group of people pressing hard after God, crying out for His presence to come. I believed God wanted to touch the leadership – the pastors and the wives – of our region. I prayed in general for the Spirit to fall on the meeting. The great theme of my prayer time beforehand was, “Come, Holy Spirit.”
The meeting was drenched in prayer ahead of time. At the meeting, I shared on “those who are thirsty may come to Jesus and drink” from John 7:37, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Revelation 21:6 and Acts 2:15. It was obvious that the Holy Spirit was at work among the pastors and their wives as well as many others who attended the meeting.
In total, I shared at the meeting for about 40 minutes telling a story of how God had come again into my ministry in a wonderful way and how He was touching people in my church. I also told a story about how far I had fallen from the work in the Spirit that had characterized my earlier ministry when I had first gotten involved with the Vineyard Church in Missouri and how I had repented of that to the church.
The first person I and a team member prayed for was a woman. She came and stood right in front of me. She was very hurt and nothing happened to her initially. She later finally broke through and was touched by God about two hours later.
The next people I and this team member prayed for at the meeting fell quickly to the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit. Some began to cry. Others, laugh. And others were just quietly ministered to.
Interestingly enough, I wrote of these occurrences in my journal: “I anticipate this may occur in my ministry in the future.” But I concluded: only time will tell if those were isolated sovereign incidents or whether they will be the beginning of a ministry of revival for the church.
The next two hours of the meeting were like stepping into another dimension, or like living in a dream. I kept thinking to myself, I need someone to pinch me to know this is really happening. (Be sure to watch the video to this point in which you will hear about some of the more notable incidents that are still deeply impressed upon my memory today.)
In the video, I recall a story from the 1980’s in which the whole choir at a Baptist church in southeast Missouri was being “wiped out” by the power of the Holy Spirit while they were singing a worship song. I point out how you could hear the wind—literally, “like a mighty rushing wind”—and the church service went until mid-afternoon. I will report how within a few weeks, every miracle you can think of that you would see in the New Testament—including raising the dead—happened.
My friend Happy watched the meeting happen for some time. He had gotten scared and hidden under a chair. At this point in the story, it’s important to know that “Happy was Mr. Control; he had to have everything figured out down to the last second.” But Happy finally approached me and said, “I’ve received things from you in the past. Now I want this. I want to drink.”
I began to pray for Happy. Happy began to bow his body backwards under the power of God and, instead of falling, Happy began to shuffle his feet backwards to keep from falling. This was not safe because the floor was covered by people who were “slain” in the Spirit. Before I and my team would begin to pray for someone, we had to find a place to position them so that when they would fall, they would not fall on someone. It was like “falling trees”!
I told Happy not to walk out from under the Spirit’s power but to stand and fall. But, not to back up to keep from falling. I prayed again, and Happy fell under the power of God. After about 15 minutes, Happy came up and said,”I want another drink.” Happy was prayed for again, and he began to shuffle backwards under the power of God again.
I and a team member pushed Happy up and continued to pray for a few seconds. Happy fell on the floor under the power of God again. This time Happy began to double up with his knees to his chest and his feet sticking up in the air, as he began to belly laugh. It was quite the sight! You couldn’t help but laugh in the natural at what God was doing in their midst. It was funny, because Happy who was “Mr. Control” had now given God the control.
Then I felt led by the Holy Spirit to kneel down beside Happy as Happy was laying on the floor, laughing. I said, “God, take control of Happy. He wants to control, and I ask that you take control of Happy.” When I prayed this, Happy stopped belly laughing and quickly grabbed his shirt at his belly button area. Happy was gripping his shirt and his hands were clenched. I knew by an unction of Holy Spirit this was a stronghold of the enemy in Happy’s life. Then I and my team member prayed for the power of God to totally take Happy and for the stronghold to be broken.
Slowly Happy’s grip began to loosen and he began to relax his hands. Then I began to pray, “Lord, birth Your work in Happy. This [grabbing of Happy’s shirt at his belly button area and not laughing] is breach. Turn it around, and let it be born.” Very soon, there was a breakthrough in Happy. The joy and laughter returned, and he was once again laughing and enjoying the refreshment of the Holy Spirit.
After about 30 minutes, Happy came up to me again and asked for another drink. I prayed for Happy again and within seconds, Happy fell under the power of God again; enjoying the Lord’s presence. At this point in the story, it’s important to realize that simultaneously others were receiving prayer and being touched by the Holy Spirit as well.
Happy later helped start two of the Vineyard churches in the Midwest. So there’s a history between Happy and me. In fact, the most powerful touch from God that I ever had was when Happy blew on me at his church in 1999 when I thought I was going to die. (You’ll want to watch the rest of the video to hear more stories like Happy’s.)
This meeting was just a foretaste of a new move of supernatural Christianity characterized by signs, wonders and healing miracles that God ignited around the globe and that He caused to transpire in my and my team’s four decades of ministry that followed.
P.S. I believe the events that led up to the Toronto Blessing are a prophetic sign to the culture that God can use everybody. Over the years, I and my team have developed two conferences that provide a solid foundation in living a supernatural lifestyle. It’s my heart that people everywhere will be empowered to see a fresh revival come to their spheres of influence.
Randy is the founder and President of Global Awakening and author of books on healing, impartation, and revival history. He spends his time writing, traveling, speaking at events, and hanging out with his children and grandkids. His life’s message is: “God will use anyone who’s willing to take a risk in faith.”
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
For information about current courses, contact the Principal,
Welcome to this Study Guide on Renewal Theology 1.
This study examines the characteristics and methods of theology from a renewal perspective including its integrative and comprehensive approach to the whole of Scripture, the relationship of the Old and New Testaments, the study of the doctrine of God, the centrality of the themes of covenant and the kingdom of God, and their application to contemporary ministry and mission.
Theology provides a systematic study of biblical teaching in historical and contemporary forms. It is the intellectual process whereby all other theological and ministry studies are related to biblical studies. This introductory study of Theology is a systematic approach to themes and teaching of the Bible placed in historical and contemporary terms with a view to practical application in ministry.
This introductory study has the dual aim to teach methods and presuppositions of the study of theology including its hermeneutic, and to apply these methods to fundamental theological issues such as the study of God and revelation, including the seminal themes of the Kingdom of God, covenant and mission.
This study relates directly to all biblical studies, drawing on them for the formulation of theological concepts. It also undergirds all ministry and mission, providing a reference point for the development of applied theology in the practice of ministry.
Module 1: Theology and Biblical Hermeneutics
What is Theology? Why Theology?
How to Begin – Prolegomena (I)
How to Begin – Prolegomena (II)
Methods in Theology.
Module 2: Revelation and the Knowledge of God
God’s Existence and Being
The Trinity and Nature of God
Creation and Providence
Module 3: The Centrality of Christ
The Person of Christ
The Problem of Evil
The Kingdom of God
The Concept of Covenant
Module 4: Theology of Mission and Ministry
Mission : “The Mother of Theology”
Contemporary Theologies : Western and Non-Western
Doing Theology : Its Application
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares from his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education, or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses and home or church groups.
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses, and home or church groups.
Learning Together in Ministrydescribes how we all can learn together to minister more effectively. Expanded from chapter 15 of ‘Body Ministry: The Body of Christ Alive in His Spirit’ this book gives further comment and examples of Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered ministry by ordinary people alive in the Spirit of God.
Body Ministry is a popular version of Geoff Waugh’s Doctor of Missiology dissertation with Fuller Theological Seminary.
Geoff Waugh taught Ministry and Mission subjects in Bible Schools in Papua New Guinea and at Trinity Theological College and Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. He has a Doctor of Missiology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and is an author of books on mission and revival including Flashpoints of Revival and South Pacific Revivals.
An event of some significance occurred in the early years of my episcopate. I had a feeling that the church as a whole was just plodding along. There were a few bright spots among the parishes, but on the whole I thought church growth was not exciting. What troubled me more was that not many clergy were over-concerned, and if they were anxious about the situation, they didn’t show it.
At the same time as I was experiencing these impressions, I was made aware of the ‘Holy Spirit’ movement. Pentecostal churches had been with us since the beginning of the century, but in the 1960s they had been showing a lot of vitality and considerable growth in adherents many former Anglicans and also former members of a number of other historic churches. I was interested to discover the reason for this new phenomenon. Books by Michael Harper, Colin Urquhart and David Watson, Anglican priests in England, helped me to understand this ‘charismatic movement’ (charisma here refers to the Pauline list of Spiritual Gifts).
I wanted to know about the ‘Power’ ministry, i.e. the Power of the Holy Spirit. I knew God had blessed the few natural gifts I had, but there was always so much effort on my part, and I got tired. There was not much ‘resting in the Lord’.
But I had a problem. My wife and I now lived in a fine house in Taringa Parade, Taringa, owned by the diocese. My wife knew of my growing interest in the charismatic movement, but was very apprehensive about this spiritual phenomenon. She said to me, ‘If you get involved in this movement, I’ll leave you.’ So I pulled back from the charismatic movement. However, an extraordinary event was about to unfold.
I went to a clergy retreat. While I was away, my wife went, albeit reluctantly, with a friend to a house meeting to hear an evangelist and spiritual healer. I imagine the friend was endeavouring to find support for my wife, who now had cancer. During the meeting, an invitation to go forward for prayer was given. My wife, who was really a very private person, was first to step forward. Later, she told me she didn’t really know what happened except friends were picking her up from the floor. She felt weepy, and asked to go home. She cried herself to sleep, not out of grief, but of joy.
The next day she had a strong desire to ring three women from whom she was estranged. Two were delighted that friendship was restored; the third, from whom my wife had not heard for months, got her phone call in first, and there was much rejoicing. In a real sense, I found a different woman in my home when I returned from the retreat. She of course looked the same, but she seemed to have grown ten feet tall spiritually.
With confidence now, I went to a conference in Sydney, led by Archbishop Bill Burnett of Capetown and Bishop Zulu, also from Africa. Archbishop Burnett was the Episcopal Father of the Charismatic Renewal in the Anglican Communion.
The conference was terrific and I ended up being elected chairman of the Anglican Renewal Ministries in Australia, a post I held for several years.
It was a joy to organize several Diocesan Renewal conferences at Camp Cal, Caloundra. Guest speakers at various times included Vernon Cohen and Dick Wallace, Anglican priests from Melbourne. It was a privilege to have Father Terry Fulham from Darien, Connecticut, USA, at another of the meetings.
Ecumenical Renewal services at St John’s Cathedral drew packed houses. The Rev. Geoff Waugh, from a Baptist-Uniting Church background, and a Roman Catholic priest, Father Vincent Hobbs, were co-convenors of these rallies, some of which were also held at St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Albert Street Uniting Church. These were exciting times as lives were changed, Holy Spirit power was in evidence and healings took place. A small number of diocesan priests were blessed and their ministries enriched.
Proclamation of Jesus
However, it was not all plain sailing. Some clergy regarded me as a ‘weirdo’ but one thing they could not deny: The proclamation of Jesus and God’s gifts of salvation by grace through faith became key features of my preaching. I was reminded by Scripture that the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus.
Of course, there are excesses in most spiritual movements. I have also known Anglo-Catholic and Evangelicals to go ‘over the top’, and I have experienced ‘charismatic Christians’ who have become quite unbalanced and fanatical.
I have been glad to have experienced the strong sacramental life of Anglicanism and the good order of liturgical worship. But liturgical worship need not be stiff. The warmth of the Spirit can melt the coldness of mere formalism. At times, ‘non-liturgical’ services, too, have a very helpful place in our churches.
I was invited to a conference of Evangelicals in Melbourne. I guess it was strange to have one brought up in a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition to be given this invitation. However, my role was to respond to a paper by Michael Cassidy on ‘Charismatic or Spiritual Renewal’. Michael has been well known in many countries as one of the leaders of African Enterprise an organization concerned with a two-pronged mission Evangelism and Community Social Development.
From Monday to Wednesday, the lectures had been superb, but more of the head than of the heart. I thought, in fact, that the mood of the delegates was quiet and subdued. So arrived my six minutes. The then Archbishop of Melbourne, Bob Dann, kept reminding me about the ‘six minutes’. I put away my prepared text and simply shared with the conference what spiritual renewal meant to me: how my ministry was enriched, how I came to understand and love Jesus more. The response of the delegates was very moving to me. They rose in acclamation. I went backstage and wept. God had done something beautiful.
As I had to leave the conference immediately and return to Brisbane, I could know only secondhand that the mood of the conference changed from that moment people were more open and friendly than before.
What has always amazed me is that Anglican leaders, yes, bishops, have almost acted as though Pentecostalism does not exist, especially when many Anglicans have moved into Pentecostal fellowships and especially since Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian expression in Australia. Either they are afraid to admit that Pentecostalism has ‘something’; or worse, they think Pentecostals are in some way outside the pale and not to be regarded as part of the Christian family.
Bishop Shevill once said, ‘The untaught truths of yesterday become the heresies of today.’ In other words, what the historic churches fail to emphasize, others pick up and go to excesses. Historic churches, by their partial neglect of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, have in part, only themselves to blame for the growth of many Pentecostal fellowships.
Before and after my adventure with ‘Charismatic Renewal’ I felt called to offer myself to any priest who would risk inviting me to lead a parish mission. I had no particular training in evangelism but I learnt something by doing.
During my time as an archdeacon and assistant bishop, I conducted parish missions or intense weekend teaching periods in a number of places within and outside the Diocese of Brisbane. The ‘local’ ones were at Stanthorpe, Pittsworth, Petrie (twice), Mt Gravatt (twice), Maroochydore, Bundaberg, Nanango, Ekibin, Inala, Yeronga and Ashgrove. Outside the diocese, missions were taken at Kurri Kurri in the Diocese of Newcastle, Glen Innes in the Diocese of Grafton, Stratford in the Diocese of Gippsland, Belgrave in the Diocese of Melbourne and Biloela in the Diocese of Rockhampton.
It was a privilege to be invited by the Bishop of Singapore, Ban it Chui, to take a mission in his Cathedral of St Andrew and also a clergy retreat. The visit to Singapore was a real eyeopener. In this diocese, the ‘charismatic movement’ has changed church life in many parishes. I saw churches filled especially with young people hungry for the Gospel. In one parish I visited, a cinema has now been acquired to accommodate the growing congregation.
One night while I was ministering in St Andrew’s Cathedral, a young man a Buddhist wandered in and was converted to the Christian faith. On one Sunday, I ministered to an all Indian congregation. For three hours, the whole congregation came singly or in family groups for the laying on of hands with prayer. A number were overpowered by the Holy Spirit and all the time I was praying over others, two women knelt on the concrete floor beside me, praying for me. With such enthusiasm for Jesus, it is perhaps not surprising that it was hard for me to leave Singapore.
Of course, it is difficult to estimate the effect of such parish missions. In one or two places, I suspect the missions were a complete failure. My own ministry may have been defective or maybe the preparation may have been inadequate.
However, in other places, according to the rectors, lives were changed, people were converted, people were physically healed. A former rector of Maroochydore, in the Diocese of Brisbane, told me that my mission was the most significant event in his long ministry in that parish. For that I praise God and give Him the glory.
Recently I met a businessman in Nambour who confessed that he had been converted at the mission in Glen Innes. I remembered this man well. He was the last to whom I ministered at that mission.
There have, however, been a few regrets. I have known people so changed and challenged by the in-flowing power of the Holy Spirit to be a real threat to parish clergy in parishes where I have ministered. These dear priests have not been able to cope with the enthusiasm of the newly converted and have found them difficult to cope with. Some of my missions have swelled the numbers going to Pentecostal churches.
It has been beautiful over the years to see wayward husbands come back to their wives and families, to see men and women freed from the burden of guilt which has plagued them for years, to see people with cancer have remission for a number of years, to know people so enthused that they form the nucleus of a new parish. I have been amazed over the years at the transforming power of Jesus in individual lives.
In January 1989 I began as minister of a thirty-five year old church at Beaumont in Adelaide that had suffered numerical decline. It had followed the typical pattern of an inner suburban church with its complex of buildings, a Sunday School of 350 children, and two packed morning services in its heyday of the boom years of Methodism in the fifties and sixties.
In those years the church was a buzz of activity. Its youth group grew as children entered their teens. Membership figures increased as the teenagers took confirmation classes. Church growth was natural and expected. It required no specific strategies. People looked for a neighbourhood church which provided worship, a Sunday School, youth program, and the accepted activities associated with church life at the time.
Gradually the neighbourhood became prime real estate. When the young people married they had to move out to newer suburban areas where land was cheaper. Predicably the congregation declined and grew older. By 1989 an average of 85 people attended the one service on Sunday and a handful of children attended the Sunday School. Many were concerned about the future of this single congregation parish, and the parish leaders had begun discussions with nearby congregations regarding amalgamation.
Regreening in the Spirit’s power
This became for me an experiment in turning a church around. Was it possible to arrest the decline and begin to build again? Would the church have a significant and effective future as well as a dynamic ministry in the name of Jesus Christ?
Early in my first year at this church I found I was also involved emotionally and could not separate my personal feelings from what I discovered and what I believed God had in store for us. Could I lead this church to new life and growth? I personally was most aware of my own need of God’s help and of my need to grow spiritually as the leader of this church.
I was fortunate to be nearing the end of doctoral studies in church growth and renewal. I had also been a consultant in the related area of evangelism for eight years. Hence I came with some knowledge and experience that I believed would help my leadership of this church. However, my experience of working at length with a declining congregation was minimal. I knew that I and they would be very dependent upon the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the interview before my appointment the nominating committee indicated they were seeking someone of my age and experience. They also emphasized their desire to be more effective evangelistically and to reach the neighbourhood for Christ. I intimated my bias for evangelism and sought to know whether they would be open to change and to embrace new directions I might initiate. They agreed, not knowing exactly what would occur in the years to follow.
New goals and direction
I began by getting to know the people and by learning their corporate history. Some had been in the church since its inception. Most had been there for ten or twenty years or more. Very few, if any, were new to the church in recent years. They considered themselves a friendly church but did not have in place ways of welcoming and assimilating new people.
Obviously pastoral work was important. I was led by the Spirit to visit people in their homes. In the first year I listened considerably. I also realized that the people were ready for change and much could happen in the first year. Indeed, some significant developments needed to occur as symbols of hope and as signs of God doing a new thing.
We were to engage in a stewardship program in June of my first year. Planning for this two year stewardship cycle had to begin early. So I talked with my parish council and elders about their aspirations and yearnings for the church. It was obvious there were no common goals, no specific direction, no vision to fire the imagination and to prompt people to give freely. Therefore in the April of 1989 we gathered forty people, key leaders and interested people for a seven hour session of reflection, evaluation, waiting on the Lord and goal setting.
We met on a Sunday afternoon and evening with a shared tea. At the end of the time we had established ten specific goals that we could work towards in 1989-1990. These became strategic in the life of the church and did much to harmonize people around a common direction. It gave purpose to the stewardship program which was successful and assured the church of financial resources for the ensuing years.
In the weeks preceding the goal setting I preached on the nature of the church using New Testament imagery such as the Body of Christ, the vine and the branches, and the picture of living stones given in 1 Peter 2:410. This supported the truth that theology is the basis of renewal.
Although there are simple practical strategies that are easily overlooked, true growth is biblically and theologically founded. It occurs through the Spirit of God renewing both people’s lives and the structures that enable us to live in community.
Theology of renewal
Theology became for us the very essence of renewal. How we understood and experienced God and the covenant determined our attitudes, expectations and actions. The term ‘the body of Christ’ became important as a description of who we were. It affirmed three main truths about the church:
1. There is to be corporate growth in unity and maturity.
2. Growth occurs as the variety of gifts of the people, given by the Spirit, are used in complementary fashion.
3. The church is a living organism with Jesus Christ in authority as the supreme head of the body.
Emphasizing a gift theology, inherent in the Uniting Church Basis of Union, we held a gift workshop in the spring of my first year. This examined the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians
4. It had practical application and included a process by which the participants could begin to identify their special gifts for ministry.
In Ephesians, Paul describes a church in which all the members are to be equipped for the work of ministry. He does not envisage a church where only a few are engaged in ministry or where most are consumers rather than participants. Ministry is done by the whole church, by Christians working in concert. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Harmonious cooperation and the complementary use of gifts far surpasses the results of individual Christians working alone and independently. One of the priority tasks of church leaders is to help the members discover their gifts for ministry, to develop such gifts, and to channel them into effective areas of service.
Equipping people for ministry
To enhance the pastoral ministry of the congregation a Caring Committee was appointed by the elders council. This group believed that the ministry should be according to one’s spiritual gifts and not by virtue of the office one might hold.
We identified over thirty people gifted in pastoral ministry and called them together to discuss the ministry model we had in mind and to provide instruction on how to make effective pastoral visits. An eight week care workers course followed in the next year. The result is that we now have a team of people who visit members and others associated with the church. This provides a network of care in which no one need be overlooked. The visitors meet about three times a year to discuss their ministry and to review their list of people.
Another person, gifted in administration and with deep compassion, coordinates a special caring program whereby practical help is given to those with special needs.
In our church we no longer allocate each elder to a group of members. Some elders are not gifted pastorally but have other excellent gifts. Any elder is available to anyone according to need and relationships that are established. We work on the principle that the elders are responsible to see that visiting occurs and are there to release the gifts of those who can do it well.
Other gifts have emerged under this theology. We appointed an honorary administrator who retired from the business world but who obviously brought a wonderful gift in administration. His work of about ten hours a week has involved two mornings a week at the church office. I arranged to be at the office on those mornings as that increased efficiency and communication. Opening the church office on these two days improved the church’s profile and made its leaders more accessible.
Many music gifts lay dormant in our worship. We had a very good choir and a couple of proficient organists. The piano in the sanctuary, however, was rarely used. To cater for increasing numbers at worship we added an additional morning service in August 1989. This provided more options. The 9 am service became family oriented and only on occasions is the pipe organ used at this service. Instead, an orchestra sometimes numbering seven or eight has provided the music.
Introducing new songs and installing a screen for use with overheads enlivened the worship and provided greater variety. Our work with musicians includes workshops for worship leaders. We have many unused gifts in this area that we wish to employ. The commencement of a regular 7 pm service has created other opportunities for lay leadership, especially by youth. By 1992 the aggregate number at worship had grown to about 200 and the average age is much less than it was in 1989.
We had demographic data available to us on that first planning day and we discovered that the surrounding community contained more younger people than was reflected in the church. Fifty per cent of the population in the parish area is under forty years of age. With this in mind, and trusting in God, we set about embracing the future with confidence. Now our Sunday School is growing, we operate a creche, and we have a growing youth movement.
Believing prayer is central to the renewal that is occurring. A prayer chain has operated in the church for many years. Its members, all ladies, meet over lunch once a month. Here prayer needs are shared. Another early morning prayer group has begun as a spin off from 7 am services on Wednesdays during Lent. A number decided to meet every Wednesday at that time and so a group of ten, including men, have gathered faithfully to pray for people and for the church. A focus of our prayer is the renewal of the church and for effective evangelistic ministry. Our church also offers prayer for healing, primarily during ministry time following services of worship.
Group life has also received attention. New home groups and Bible study groups have commenced to provide opportunities for people to engage in study, to offer and receive ministry, and to enhance fellowship. These meet according to needs and availability. They very from weekly to monthly gatherings.
At the heart of what is occurring in our church is our belief that God is continuing the renew us and, while giving ministry in the present, is preparing us to embrace God’s unfolding future. We understand that renewal is the ongoing renewing by God of the church. It is dynamic, never static. It is not an achieved state. It is not the end but the way. To be in renewal is to be journeying with God in the presence of believers.
The primary theological ground for renewal is the kingdom of God. Renewal is not the result of human effort although we are able to respond to God’s renewing activity in ways which appropriate such activity. Renewal is the work of God that points to the coming reign of God in the lives of persons and community.
The kingdom of God is neither entirely present nor entirely future. It is here now, is coming, and will come. This gives perspective to renewal. It enables the church to be a community of hope. This orientation points to what is to be as a reality greater than what has been. As such it is a very powerful motivator for Christian living and ministry. It creates vision which fosters hope and incentive.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we have been led to preach that the church is a community premised on the promise of what is to be. We are not simply to adjust to present reality, nor only to patch up here and there or even seek to recover what was. Renewal points to transformation, embracing the new. Hence we pray ‘Your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10).
We believe that the ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God and to be an agent of God in establishing the unity and wholeness of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:910). The church is a servant of the kingdom of God.
In witnessing to the wholeness of God’s kingdom we seek to demonstrate unity, forgiveness, reconciliation and new relationships. One of the most important factors in our witness is the quality of our corporate life in Christ lest our words be empty and our theology barren. We endeavour to be spiritually renewed, our motivation enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We seek a genuine growth in holiness that releases the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our church is on the way. In some quarters we struggle with conservatism but we endeavour to listen to one another, recognizing the Spirit of Christ in us all. We also use appropriate practical strategies that can be learned from church analysis and church growth. We are down-to-earth and pragmatic. But we endeavour to place God at the centre knowing that unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain. Renewed in the power of the Spirit we wish to be living stones, built into a spiritual house of God (1 Peter 2:5).
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 35-42.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)