The Ministry of reTURN

I serve on two ministry teams – PRISM Leadership Group (with Kevin & Suzanne Springer) and reTURN (a sub-ministry of CRM, with Dave Miles and a few others). A few weeks ago we met for a team meeting and came up with several “deliverables” that I wanted to pass on here. It will help MPVCC know what to expect in the next several months…

What is reTURN? reTURN creates pathways of hope and reconciliation for churches that find themselves in the middle of some kind of transition or crisis. The transition could be positive or difficult.

What can reTURN do? reTURN  gives churches the opportunity to become what Christ created them to be by:

Working towards biblical community.

  • As we develop godly communication skills and practicing the one another commands, dealing with triangulation, gossip, and other communication issues that undermine the spiritual life of the church.
  • As we focus on resolving conflict within the congregation.
  • As we develop small group life focused on building community.
  • As we equip leaders by creating church wide leader development systems as needed.

RESULT: Greater sense of peace and connectedness in the church

Working towards surrender to Christ as we make him the center of church life.

  • By preaching gospel oriented Christ centered sermons.
  • By pondering Christ’s vision for the church through a planning process.
  • By asking, “What is the Spirit saying to this church?” and intentionally seeking to discover that.

RESULT: Sense of moving towards God’s preferred future.

Working towards spiritual, emotional, organizational, and relational wholeness.

  • As we address issues related to anger, fear, grief, or historical issues that keep a congregation from being what it could be.
  • As we introduce and practice the spiritual disciplines (silence, solitude, Daily Office, etc.) related to spiritual formation.
  • As we attempt to set in place important organizational systems that make for the smooth and effective operation of a church (example: financial systems, training systems, etc.).

RESULT: Sense of personal, spiritual, and corporate stability amidst the presence of God.

Working to live out the Christian life in culture via a missional life-style.

  • By defining what living a missional life style is for the church and creating an awareness of what that looks like in the situation a church finds itself in.
  • As we encourage people to activate their gifts and skills to serve each other and the community at large.
  • As we encourage and model what it means to live out our faith in Christ in culture among friends and relatives at work and in our neighborhoods.
  • By encouraging and identifying opportunities to serve the greater community; aligning the needs of the community with the strengths and assets of the church

RESULT: Service in the community and people often coming to Christ.

Working to identify and deal with the obstacles that hinder the ability to embrace all that Christ wants the church to be.

  • By doing diagnostic assessment that asks and answers, “What is keeping us from being what God wants us to be?”
  • By activities that lead towards changing its mind (repentance) about destructive sin or behaviors that keep the church from being what God wants it to be. (Examples: Sacred Assembly, public reconciliation, etc.)
  • By addressing negative power, conflict, relational, theological, organizational, or material obstacles.
  • As we identify and tear down (through repentance) the idols that fight for dominance over Christ

RESULT: Sense of spiritual and emotional wholeness

Will reTURN grow our church? People must surrender to Christ for the ministry of reTURN to work. We do not focus on church growth. We focus on Christ. Without surrender to Christ, there is nothing we can do. We cannot force people to change or grow or repent or be reconciled or become what God wants them to become. Nor can we make a church grow or increase in size. We lift up Christ and let God grow his church naturally and on his time line.

Sometimes churches that should grow don’t because they don’t care deeply about lost people. They are self-centered. Sometimes churches that grow in numbers need to grow in maturity. They are so outwardly focused they fail to mature. We seek to serve congregations so that they will become what God wants them to become.

Where does reTURN work? We have worked in urban, suburban, and rural churches around the US. We have worked in multi-ethnic and mono-ethnic churches. Each environment is different and demands its own culturally sensitive practices. reTURN team members have worked with larger churches (several thousand members) to smaller churches (under a hundred). The size of the church effects how the ministry is done. We work across denominational lines with congregations who are willing to adhere to the great truths of the Christian faith-the deity of Christ, authority of the Word, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and eventual return of Christ. We do not seek to undermine the doctrinal distinctives of a congregation.

How does reTURN work and what do you do? reTURN team members work as interim pastors, as consultants, as coaches, or as interim staff members in congregations in transition. We are more hands on and directly involve ourselves in the lives of the churches in which we work.

We have worked with congregations that have been severely conflicted or in deep decline. We have worked with churches that are in transition between lead pastors or churches that have lost pastors to moral failure. We have worked in environments where people struggled with the cultural changes that come their way or that have been split or lost a large number of attendees due to events surrounding their church life. We have worked with churches that have schools connected to them or who have had leaders who have abused their power. We have also worked in churches that simply needed an organizational tune up.

Hope this helps…

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