I have spent the last few months becoming a #churchnerd. Yes, that’s right. A church nerd. How, you may ask, does one become a church nerd?
It begins with reading. Lots and lots of reading. Blog articles. Web sites. Books. Lots of books. It continues with more reading, listening to podcasts devoted to church leadership, church health, pastoral care, preaching and church renewal. It involves prayer and a good bit of talking with others in ministry, those entrenched in the muck and mire of the everyday shepherding of their flocks and battling the darkness of culture.
I have soaked myself in data and research reading. The Barna Group and Pew Research Data are like my BFFs for information.
And you know what? All of the information, all of the current studies and books and research depresses me. It frustrates me. It saddens me.
We live in a world that is increasingly more secular, and our culture is shifting dramatically towards it. The words “unchurched” and “dechurched” are become daily parts of our vocabulary. As someone in the trenches, it is easy to get sucked into a woe-is-me attitude, especially seeing it from the perspective on this side of ministry.
I was reminded recently, however, that it is not all doom and gloom. After all, as believers, we know who wins in the end. We know that Jesus will be victorious. His kingdom will reign. (Can I get an amen?)
The hubs and I went to Tennessee recently to attend a ministry conference. It was a foretaste of heaven, to be surrounded by so many believers raising up their voices in prayer and song. It felt like holy ground.
photo courtesy of Seedbed
Prayer and revival were among the themes of the 3 days. We worshiped together, we prayed. We listened, we worshiped, we learned, we prayed, and we worshiped again. With every speaker, my soul was convicted of the bitterness and sadness that has taken root. In tears, as I confessed to my sins, my heart broke. The hard shell of disappointment shattered and fell to the ground as I released the burden of it to the Lord. Something happened within the conference and in the travel time with friends. Something holy. Something good.
You see, even in the midst of reading, and writing, and spending time becoming a church nerd, it was all in my head. I was learning, but I wasn’t growing. Knowledge is a good thing, but knowledge is best when it transforms the heart and soul, when it stirs one to action.
My heart is in revival. I have come to the realization that revival begins in each of us, when we open our heart to seek after the Lord with a hunger that we haven’t known before. This is where I am now. It is a hard, and a holy, place of transformation, of growth. No longer am I just seeking information, but I am seeking after the heart of God, desperate to have His heart for His world.
In a journey of faith, we must seek to be revived over and over again. The world will do its best to wreck us, to make us angry and bitter. The world and its despair will harden our hearts to the cries of the needy, the hurting, the marginalized. The world will do its best to destroy our peace and shake our faith. The world will overwhelm us and the only way to not succumb is to trust in the One who has overcome the world.
All the data, all the reading, all the information in the world will do nothing if we do not use it to stir up revival in us.
Information needs to lead to transformation.