"The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). With this guiding biblical text, we come to the 10-year anniversary of Springs of Living Water in Church Renewal. Meeting with the Ministry and Mission Planning Council in 2004, we were encouraged to go out to develop this vision. In faith we went with a sense of urgency.
Now 10 years later, our hearts are filled with humble gratitude as we see renewal using the mission statement, “To provide and embody a spiritually oriented, servant-led ministry to assist churches to be spiritually vibrant congregations with an urgent Christ-centered mission.”
Three aspects of this vision have proved to be what churches find most helpful, with the primary being spiritual thrust, then the servant-led manner, and then developing vibrant Christ-centered congregations in mission.
The heart of the Springs work is practicing spiritual disciplines. Folders for the church have a daily Bible reading for meditation and prayer. Using folders, people have a daily encounter with Christ and live out of the scripture as the guide for daily living. People’s lives change. Congregations gain new energy, become more united, and feel that they are on a faith journey.
Brethren have stressed reading scripture and following its guidance daily. Pastors can preach on the spiritual disciplines and people have a folder to read scriptures on that discipline. Parents have discovered their young adults reading the scripture of the day. Bible study groups form and delve into the scripture. This filters down to children, and families converse about spiritual practices. This is a total immersion in spiritual growth for individuals and churches.
A second aspect of Springs is servant leadership, which grows out of the spiritual walk. Having our feet washed and our lives renewed in the name of Christ, we wash the feet of others. In serving, we hold the needs of others in trust and are entrusted with leadership--servant leadership. From that, authentic leaders come, spiritually nurturing people in Christ, calling forth their strengths, and building healthy churches with an urgent Christ-centered mission.
The new Springs Academy for pastors, carried out through telephone conference sessions, has been well received. Pastors practice spiritual disciplines, have leadership training in church renewal, interact with peers, have a group from their congregation walk along, and receive shepherding calls between sessions. Pastors go deep into the disciplines and learn how spiritual formation is central in their ministry. They learn the biblical basis of servant leadership and how to practice it in renewal.
Third is developing vibrant Christ-centered congregations in mission. A renewal team helps a church have moving congregational gatherings. Rather than find out what is wrong and fix it, people identify what is right and build upon it. Congregations ask, “Where is God leading our church?” In other gatherings they explore how their church touches people spiritually, their church’s core values and identity, and discern a scripture to guide a vision and a plan.
More spiritual transformation comes as churches implement their ministry plan. Creativity abounds as churches reach out into their communities. New people are attracted to renewing churches. This happens as churches become intentional about their mission.
In this tenth year of Springs, we are focusing on developing a closer walk in Christ and celebrating new life in churches. As Brethren join together with many efforts in renewal, let us celebrate new life in Christ.
In gratitude to God and to many people who have helped in many ways.
-- David Young and his wife Joan have founded and developed the Springs initiative for church renewal. Contact 464 Ridge Ave., Ephrata, PA 17522; firstname.lastname@example.org ; 717-615-4515 or 717-738-1887. More information is at www.churchrenewalservant.org .