Before any church can be revitalized, you must settle one question: Who is going to revive the church, you or God?
I believe that there is no greater offense to the Spirit of God than the spirit of dependence upon the flesh. The Word of God is clear. “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5.) There is nothing that God requires of us that we are actually capable of doing. We are without strength (Romans 5:6.) We are completely dependent upon God and His mercy.
Antioch is now a healthy church that God has richly blessed. It is a “successful” church revitalization, but how was this brought about? In reality, the whole renewal of the church has come from a simple conviction, Jesus builds His own church and does not need my help (Matthew 16:18.)
The first thing I did as pastor was to begin a men’s prayer meeting. My first Wednesday at Antioch, I asked any men who wanted to pray to join me after prayer meeting. If you ask anyone in our church, this is without a doubt the thing that has brought about the reviving of our church. There is no one in our church who will attribute any change to anything other than our God Who has heard and answered our prayers.
When faced with any problem in life there are only two possible solutions. One, man must do something, or two, God must do something. We bet the farm on option number two. The Scripture is abundantly clear that we are completely incapable of fixing the least of our problems. We are totally dependent upon God.
If you were to analyze the ministry philosophy of our church you would find out we have no Plan B. Either God moves or we die. We have no other hope. Our hope has never been on earthly means or philosophies. We did not follow books or teachers. We only trusted the Living God. We placed ourselves entirely at His mercy. If He answered our prayers our church would live. If He did not, our church would close its doors.
God answers prayer! That is the foundation of our church. There is not a single thing that has taken place in our church that is not a direct answer to prayer. Every change that has taken place in our church has been brought about by God in direct answer to the prayers that have come from the men’s prayer meeting. Literally, not a single thing has taken place in our church but in direct answer to prayer.
This was the first change that took place in our church. We have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3.) We only have confidence in God. He has never failed us. Yes, He has led us through times so dark that I still cringe to remember, but He has always led us through to the other side.
In addition to our men’s prayer meeting, we have diligently protected our Wednesday Prayer Meeting. It is not a Bible study! It is a prayer meeting. Our people have become almost obsessed with prayer. It is not unusual to have an Elders Meeting, a Deacons Meeting, or any other meeting where nothing is decided except that we will pray about the matter for a month. Our people tremble to touch the Ark. God does not need the hand of Uzzah!
I cannot stress this enough. Our church is entirely dependent upon God through prayer. We have seen Him do mighty things! However, He alone gets the glory, because He alone has done these things. We have only been children who humbly petitioned our Father to move on our behalf. And He Has!
I tried many things as a pastor to get things going. I tried bringing about changes or orchestrating events to move the church forward. Everything I tried completely failed. Literally, everything; literally, completely failed. I began to notice that only one thing worked. Prayer. God was moving in answer to our prayers. That was the only thing we had going for us, and we have come to realize that that is all we need.
If you want to revitalize a church please remember that you cannot. Only Christ can build His Church. It is His job to renew and build His church. Your job is simply to pray, trust, and obey.
Yes! Our God requires that we learn to trust in, look to Him alone…’the arm of flesh will fail us, we dare not trust our own’. In the situation I am currently in, this is the lesson I have taken so long to learn. Thank you for your encouraging disclosure of your own experience. As one godly brother said,”Jesus Christ is all we have, cause Jesus Christ is all we need.” Amen