By Dawn Davis, creator of Revive
Do your lay leaders seem tired? Do you yearn for a deeper spiritual connection? Do your laity lack confidence engaging in spiritual leadership, such as leading a public prayer?
Is your congregation experiencing change and you are not sure what to do about it?
At one point I answered yes to all these questions. That is when I began creating Revive.
I had just been appointed to a parish that found itself in the midst of unexpected demographic changes (parishioners were aging, the community was changing, and attendance was beginning to decline). I was also recovering from a decade of leading a demanding program ministry at the diocese which left me feeling depleted. To top it off, my husband and I had just started a family, which brought insurmountable joy, but was shaking our ordered life to its foundations.
Both at home and in the parish, I sensed excitement laced with exhaustion and confusion. Up to this point in the church, we had mastered all circumstances with self-reliance, ingenuity, and good old elbow grease. Now we were uncertain, and our efforts seemed inadequate. All typical solutions to fix the problem seemed in vain. We were being brought to our knees and—consequently—to a deeper relationship with the living God.
I was trained as a pastor, liturgist, and theologian, and later in human resources and management. What did I know about how to facilitate another person’s spiritual growth? That kind of thing was supposed to happen privately and discreetly through good worship. Anglicans operated with the assumption: “Come to church and you will grow.” This passive approach to discipleship—the core mandate of the church—might have been good enough when we were building the empire but in this secular, post-Christian context, it was woefully inadequate, and suitable resources were few.
It is often at these emotionally depleted moments that the most profound spiritual encounters happen. God actually has a fighting chance of being heard through the cacophony of distractions, anxiety, and self-interested ego. I found I was being called back to my ministry beginnings, to my original love of God. As a congregation, we were being asked to encounter Jesus anew so as to pattern our lives after his. We were being invited to trust in the renewing and life-giving energy of the Spirit.
Your story might not be exactly like mine. It might be less, or even more dramatic. But there is no denying it; our church and our communities are in the midst of enormous change where the old, easy answers don’t work anymore. Maybe this is the space where truth, discovered in mystery, emerges, and a new call together begins.
My prayer is that Revive may serve you, not as a silver bullet to save your church, but as a relational way for lay leaders and clergy to find their way to God together, following Christ, and being healed, renewed, and enlivened in the Spirit.
May you be revived!
The downloadable program materials may be purchased here.
Pre-printed Participant Guides are available here.