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25 September 2017


Healthy, fruitful, giving and sending churches are a delight. We rejoice when a new church is planted to reach another community with the gospel. We also long for revitalised churches — struggling now perhaps, but refusing to give up, and ready to be transformed by the gospel for the sake of the gospel. 

John James’ excellent little book holds out hope for struggling churches. It will inspire church leaders who are humble enough to recognise they need help, to ask — and to receive what God gives. It will envision gospel workers who are ready to follow in the footsteps of the Master, as they embrace a less–than–glamorous ministry. But this is not just a book for struggling churches. It will benefit church planting teams and those in healthy churches who want to become more fruitful — and see that fruitfulness multiplied. 

James’ spiritual realism offers no ‘quick fixes’ and promises no easy path. Rather, he demonstrates from Scripture that hardship awaits any ministry shaped by the cross and resurrection. Several recent case studies of revitalisation from a range of fellow–practitioners complement the main thrust of the book. 

This is a book to read and talk about in your leadership team (you won’t all like everything in it). It will particularly benefit churches longing for renewal and prepared to sacrifice anything but the gospel for the sake of the gospel.

“Revitalisation is not about self–preservation, but self–sacrifice.” (p. 18) “Self–preservation will become self–sacrifice, as we look to a hope beyond this world. Maintenance will become mission, as we lay up our treasure in heaven. Evading risk will become enduring anything, as we live for a hope and a joy in eternity…” (p.111)

My two–word summary would be ‘hardship’ and ‘hope’ — all through God’s grace in Christ crucified.

You can buy Renewal here.

Originally reviewed in Partnership magazine by Alistair Hornal, National Co–Ordinator of Partnership and former trustee of Serving in Mission.

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