Renewal                            

by John James

What a gem of a book! John is the first pastor of what was Helier Church, Birmingham UK, that had fallen on hard times and was in danger of closing. It tried to serve a deprived housing estate but the members were elderly and lacked both energy and resources to turn it around.

Whilst church planting is considered ‘cool’, seeking to revitalise a declining congregation might seem a lost cause. But not to John. And not to John’s God. Here is a very warm, honest and humble account of the church’s journey.

John writes in a very readable style as he recounts the churches experience over the past five years. He does not shun exposing his own doubts and shortcomings but through it all his love for God and his people shine forth. His constant refrain is ‘people not programmes’, church revitalisation is God’s work and only in his strength will it succeed.

The work is long-term, low key and hard and he was without any real encouragements during the first year. He invested in relationships and helpfully describes evangelism as just talking to people about Jesus.

John reminds us that there is also an enemy at work. Taking a stand against Satan means solid, tenacious perseverance is the order of the day, a daily ‘plod for God’.

John includes five other encouraging examples of church revitalisation. The book is thoroughly recommended to all Christians but especially to those leaders of declining congregations. There’s hope in these pages!     (Phil Walter)