Finding Life: An Organic Model of Renewal for Existing Churches

Thomas E. Rester Jr.


Statistics reveal most existing mainline churches are small, declining, and unable to minister effectively in their current environment. Rising stress is the result for these congregations. For mission and ministry to continue in many of these places, the stress must become an opportunity to release a deeper organic understanding of identity and ministry within the fluid postmodern context.

Chapter 2 presents biblical materials from the book of Acts. Focusing on Acts 15, we discover that in a moment of great stress and confusion, the church was able to change and evolve to find new life in the midst of conflict.

Chapter 3 presents materials from Christian history and thought demonstrating how the church flourished in many different cultures throughout history, adapting its approaches to ministry while maintaining a clear vision of the hope of the gospel for its age. The primary focus is on ministry models, methods, and mindset that emerged throughout modernity, particularly the early spread of the Wesleyan revival of the 181 h century.

Chapter 4 presents current materials illustrating characteristics that must be present in order for significant change to occur within organizations. If they are present, the ability of churches to reclaim their identity as a center of viable Kingdom mission can become a reality.

Chapter 5 investigates specific images and metaphors that provide alternatives for ministry in the current context, allowing churches to move past stress and toward new life. We further explore the postmodern context and how these images will enable churches to reclaim their primary mission.

The conclusion integrates the findings from scripture, history, the importance of metaphor, and foundations of change with the understanding of the context and ethos of the church. These findings will help churches return to health and wholeness, as they begin to reconnect with their local culture and context.