About The Church Renewal Lab

The Church Renewal Lab is a two-year renewal kick-start helping congregations refresh their mission focus as they seek to make more and better disciples.  In short, the Church Renewal Lab’s goal is to help congregations “Change the Atmosphere” (renewing culture) and “Journey to Mission” (strategic planning). First Church has joined the Renewal Lab in a hope to set the vision for our future!

The Lab is a hands-on learning opportunity for pastors and their teams.  The Lab takes a multifaceted approach to church revitalization and includes: Cohorts of 10-12 churches journeying together, quarterly renewal courses (learning labs), a three-step process: “Listen…Imagine…Do”, peer learning environments, renewal Lab team formation to help guide the renewal process, and congregational involvement.

The Church Renewal Lab objectives include:

  • Identify a congregation’s unique mission and vision
  • Develop strategies for making more and better disciples
  • Change the atmosphere through congregational health
  • Become Gospel-centered in all aspects of ministry
  • Implement the priorities of the Acts 2:42-47 New Testament Church

1 GOAL –  Joining God on Mission

4 ESSENTIALS – Abiding, Vision, Leadership, Health

3 STEP PROCESS – Listen, Imagine, Do

Weekly Renewal Challenge

We having been challenging our members to participate in the weekly Renewal Challenge. We hope and pray that each of us will be challenged to look deeper, to gain insight, and bring together renewal within.

February 18, 2018: Fasting

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that reminds us we “do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
This week choose 1 or 2 things (food, hobby, entertainment, something you’d “miss”), to intentionally fast from, using your hunger for those things to seek God more deeply.
Couple that fasting with prayer, specifically that God would reveal a clear and compelling vision for our church moving forward. Please pray for the leaders meeting on Sat. February 24th!

February 4, 2018: Happy Anniversary

It’s First Church’s 84th anniversary this week! We are here because of God’s faithfulness, and the faithfulness of those who’ve gone before us.
Spend time this week reading through Hebrews 11-12:3.
Look up the stories of the people mentioned, and reflect on God’s work with them through challenging times. Reflect on/discuss the following questions with a friend:
What experiences has God used to shape your faith?
Who’s in your “cloud of witnesses”? Who has helped grow and develop your faith?
Whose life can you invest in? Where might God want to us you to help nurture someone else’s faith?

January 28, 2018: Be the Church

“There is never a time when you are not the church.”  Reggie McNeal, Kingdom Come

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-20 and then look for ways to be the church this week: to your neighbour, at work, in the grocery store, to your friends, to your kids, to your spouse

January 21, 2018: Look around

1. Open your eyes to look for God at work in Sarnia this week
2. Record what you see (write it down, take a picture, etc.)
3. Tell someone else about what you saw.

Where is kindness on display?
Where are people helping people?
Where is justice being done?
Where is unity being pursued?
Where are barriers being taken away?
Where are social problems being addressed?
Where are wrongs being righted?
Where is love winning?

Extra Challenge:  Engage in a (friendly!) contest with one or two friends/family to see who spots God at work the most this week.  Share the stories!

January 14, 2018: At the heart of Renewal are the prayers of the heart.

Each day this week, carve out time to talk to God using the simple and common way to pray using the ACTS prayer model.
Adoration: Spend significant time worshiping God.
Confession: Spend significant time confessing our sins to God
Thanksgiving: Offer up a ton of thanks for all the Lord has given and done.
Supplication: Lay out our needs to the Lord, and pray for others.
When we pray through this model, we ask ourselves, “Have I remembered to thank God? Have I remembered to acknowledge how good God is? Have I remembered to confess my sins? (I don’t think anyone ever forgets the supplication part.)

Kids Challenge: Memorize the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) NIV

January 7, 2018: Sermon on the Mount

Read through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) once a day for 5 days. Pay attention to phrases that jump out at you. Examine your life and ask God to show you where you can live out Jesus’ principles better.

December 31, 2017: Goals

Spiritual growth happens best when it’s intentional, so make some (measurable) goals for 2018 and commit to achieving them (with God’s help!)
Here’s some ideas to get the ball rolling:

Read through the entire Bible at least once
Spend 5 minutes in prayer every day (increase as needed!)
Volunteer at least 8 hours a month (outside of First)
Make at least 2 “soul friends”–people with whom you can read Scripture, pray and discuss your faith
Fast at least 1 day/month
Increase your giving (by 3%, 5%…)
Host different people for a meal once/month

December 24, 2017: Celebrate and Party Hard!

At Christmas we celebrate the angel’s “good news of great joy”. Christ’s birth was the beginning of the end for sadness, despair, evil, brokenness, and all that’s wrong with the world. Christian celebration shakes a fist at the darkness saying, “You can’t win, you won’t have the last word!”

As you celebrate with family and friends this week, do so out of your hope in Christ, intentionally party with joy, despite all that’s wrong in our world! Celebrate this joy and bring joy and be joy for others! For Christ has come, and Christ will come again!

December 17, 2017: Peace, Hope, Joy and Love

 “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, The Message) During Advent we celebrate Jesus entering our world to bring peace, hope, joy and love. We also celebrate his giving of that mission to us! “You are Christ’s body” (1 Corinthians 12:27, The Message)
This week, intentionally go out of your way to share peace, hope, joy and love to others, preferably strangers! Be generous, creative, ask God for ideas, and listen to the Spirit’s promptings!

December 10, 2017: O Come Let Us Adore Him

While gratitude says, “How good of God to give me this!” adoration says, “What must God be like to give me this?”
This week:
1. Keep track of the pleasurable things you experience each day.
2. At the end of the day, spend time reflecting on what those pleasures
tell you about God.
3. Offer prayers of adoration and praise to God for who he is.
4. Share your insights with a friend!

December 3, 2017: Isaiah

Isaiah prophesied a lot about Jesus’ first advent 700 years before he arrived. Spend some time this week reading and reflecting on those prophecies–what they meant for the people waiting for Jesus then, and what they mean for us waiting for Jesus to return now.
Monday: Isaiah 9:1-7
Tuesday: Isaiah 11
Wednesday: Isaiah 35
Thursday: Isaiah 40

Friday: Isaiah 61

November 26, 2017: Saved  

What does it mean to you in the way your life gets lived to say “I have been saved through grace by faith?” Write a response and then pray a prayer of thanks to God for his working in your life. Share your response with at least one other person this week, then ask at least one person for their answer to this question.

November 19, 2017: Go fast!  

For centuries, Christians have sharpened their faith and awareness of God through “fasting” (“deny yourself”), using their physical hunger to focus their spiritual life.  This week, try some of these different fasting ideas, asking God to make you aware of his presence in and around you.

  1. Fast from one meal per day, Mon-Fri.
  2. Fast for one full day.
  3. Give up something you’d miss for the week (coffee, internet/TV/screentime, sweets/sugar, alcohol, other)

November 12, 2017: Vision Night

Vision Night Edition!  This Friday, November 17 we’ll be gathering as a church to eat pizza and dream about God’s future for us. In preparation for that, please pray each day this week for a different piece of: “What’s true of First’s Faith Journey?” (middle page of ‘Reveal Survey Results booklet’ on the table in the church lobby)  

  1. Strong Foundation–people here are committed to First
  2. High approval of pastoral leadership–leadership has a strong voice among the people
  3. Many lack a vibrant personal faith and many are in early levels of faith development
  4. Members want to be inspired and equipped–they want more from faith/church
  5. Our path forward means reclaiming our “first love” (Rev.2:4-5)

As you pray, write down any thoughts or ideas God gives you–and then please bring them Friday for us to talk about/pray through! 


November 5, 2017: Be Prayerful!

We dare you to pray the following prayer at least 1x/day, over the next week! 

Father in heaven, we confess to You that we don’t pray as we ought.
Ignite our hearts with the fiery darts of Your Spirit to enable us to pray.
Create in us a life of unceasing prayer.
Stoke the fire of prayer in our church to a new intensity so that we are changed, as well as the people around us.
Jesus, we lift up Your name; we plead with You to draw people to Yourself.
Turn this church around for Your glory, now and forevermore!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Extra challenge: Take one line of this prayer per day, and spend some extra time praying through it, asking God to show you his will through it.
Kids Challenge: Pray for renewal in one ministry of our church every day (ie: worship, council, hospita
lity, prayer, Sunday school, etc.)