By Rev. Phillip Leo, Church Communications Director
What’s the cost of church renewal?
It depends on the type of cost, right? Fees for renewal programs range from hundreds to thousands of dollars; but there’s also the human cost of soul searching, prayer and repentance.
Which cost would you rather pay?
It’d be nice if throwing money at church renewal actually worked. Cash may be king most places, except it’s not Kingdom currency. Only King Jesus makes ministry fresh again.
No proof is required here, but I call King Joash to the witness stand. Remember him? He’s the king who climbed up onto Judah’s throne at the tender age of seven. Relying almost entirely on the high priest Jehoida for decision-making, Joash undertook a massive revitalization program for the blighted temple.
Few worshipers attended weekly services there anymore. Most people left the city and went out to the Baal shrines where worship was cooler and more relaxed. Joash hoped fixing up the temple would re-establish the legitimacy of its worship and the people would return. So, he directed almost all monies received by temple authorities to be applied to temple repairs instead of regular ministry expenses and upkeep.
What was the cost of church renewal? Nothing money couldn’t cover.
Except it couldn’t. Two decades after restoration began, King Joash discovered temple repairs still hadn’t been made. In desperation, he took the money out of the priests’ hands and paid it directly to remodeling contractors. Even if church renewal didn’t happen, at least it would look like it had!
In the end, the entire project was nothing more than throwing good money after bad. Worshipers never returned and the temple upgrades were eventually stripped off by King Joash himself.
So much for renewal.
But fast forward 350 years to the rule of King Josiah, who led a truly transformational movement. Worshipers in Jerusalem turned away from the Baal shrines and instead celebrated the Passover Feast.
So, what made the difference? Josiah began with the Book of the Law, after it had been accidentally discovered in temple storage. He read it aloud and called his hearers to follow its instruction. The game plan was simple: trust, obey and leave the rest up to God.
In real time and place, this is easier said than done. There’s no argument there. But let’s make sure we’re clear on the true cost of church renewal. As long as there are dollars and cents to be thrown, these will always be seen as a viable solution for ministry transformation. Except its true price tag is repentance.
Although this cost can’t be calculated, one thing is for sure – it doesn’t cost a penny.
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