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Renewal that Lasts

How God's church- -- once awakened -- can keep from dozing off again.

The more we talk about revitalizing the church, the more questions we seem to raise. Some of the most central ones are these: Is renewal totally in God's hands, or do we have a part to play? How does God renew the church? And is "renewal fade-out" inevitable?

Renewal, like the church itself, is a mystery. But the study of Scripture and church history does tell us much about how renewal has come-and stayed-in the past. We begin to see that renewal has more than one dimension. Here are five:

Personal Renewal

This is our usual definition. Many of us have experienced individual renewal at some point in our Christian lives. Our spiritual life was deepened; God became closer and more personally real. Personal renewal may be a dramatic, decisive experience or simply a deepening that gives us greater peace and joy.

A few years ago, a friend reported that more or less on her own she had come into a new peace with God and a richer sense of his presence. She calls this her "rise"; that's the best way ...

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