#25: Revitalization with Larry Davis and Dan Wilson

Many churches are in need of revitalization. But what does that look like? Listen in as Pastor Larry Davis and Pastor Dan Wilson talk about their church revitalization story at Grace Seaford in Delaware.

Transcript

 

Mark Dooley:
Hello. Today, I’m joined by Larry Davis, who is the pastor of Grace Baptist in Seaford, and we’re also joined by Dan Wilson, the executive pastor of Grace Baptist, and we’re going to have a conversation today about church revitalization. I want to jump right into it and give you guys an opportunity to start by just telling us a little bit about your background, things like your family, where you’re from, where all you’ve served, those kinds of things. Larry, maybe if you could go first, and then Dan after Larry, if you’ll jump in and let us know a little bit about you, that would be great as well. I want everybody to know who they’re hearing from today and what their connection to revitalization is. Larry, why don’t you start for us?

Pastor Davis:
I grew up in a small town, a town of about 700 people on the eastern shore of the Delmarva Peninsula, so Delaware, Maryland, Virginia on this one peninsula. I think one of the things that growing up in a small town that gave me a heart for revitalization is just seeing how intimately connected the church work with even our local school back then. I was born in ’72 to give you context. It was a great partnership, and you saw that. I am married. I’ve been married for 29 years. We have two amazing kids, Seth and Brittany. Brittany is the oldest. She’ll be 22 this month, and Seth is 19. We’re in the season of life where we’re just trying to kick them out of the house. For those of you that have been in that situation, you know exactly what I’m saying, is to get them moved on to the next context.

Mark Dooley:
We’ve done that with three so far, and we’re in the process of doing it with a fourth.

Pastor Davis:
Amen. I’ve been honored to be a part of three different revitalizations in my season of ministry. I’ve been in ministry for about 20 years, in vocational ministry. One was in a smaller church in Hebron. And then I saw how a transition in pastor there really wrecked the momentum of that church. It was a bad timing of the transition. And then I was a part of Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Salisbury for 12 years. And then I arrived at Grace in 2015, and we began working with that church to help them navigate revitalization. That’s a little bit of history. Is that enough, Mark?

Mark Dooley:
Yeah, that works great, thanks. Dan, tell us a little bit about your background.

Pastor Wilson:
Sure. My background is… I was a very young age, introduced to church. My mother brought me to church. My father still is an unbeliever today, so we’ve been praying for him for almost 50 years now. I went to church, grew up in the church, really enjoyed my time in the church. Then I graduated from high school and I found a church with me and my fiancee, who is now my wife. Then we started going there, and really started to be a part of their leadership team. My fiance at the time did the youth, and I helped out with the worship ministry and saw that church grow. And then we left that church shortly after that, and I started attending another church, and eventually became the worship leader and pastor there after a couple of years of just serving as a volunteer. And then we ended up having our fourth child, and we just decided we couldn’t live off of the income we were making, so we actually moved to Maryland, because we’re from New England originally.

Pastor Wilson:
That’s when I met Larry at Oak Ridge. We were part of that. It was pretty amazing experience that we saw, really, from a church going forward a couple of hundred to almost a couple thousand within just a few years of ministry and just saw God really bless that church. I was with them for about seven, eight years, I guess, and then migrated with Larry over with Grace, and really are seeing and working with that. It’s been a great ride. God has been very gracious to my family, and my wife, and my six children now.

Mark Dooley:
Amen. You’re from New England. Does that make you a New England Patriot fan?

Pastor Wilson:
It does. It does. They haven’t done that great this year, but…

Mark Dooley:
It’s not the unforgivable sin, but it’s kind of close. And so now, all the New England Patriot fans are just going to tune us out for the rest of the way here.

Pastor Wilson:
The issue is that people have to realize, is that New England was really bad for a long time.

Mark Dooley:
They were. I can remember that. Yeah.

Pastor Wilson:
I know that everyone says, oh, you’re a New England Patriot fan, but I was a New England Patriot fan when they were horrible.

Mark Dooley:
You deserve this run. They have really done well, no doubt about that. Larry, let me go back to you. And then I want to come back to you, Dan, after Larry, but Larry, since you’re the senior pastor there at Grace Baptist, why don’t you take just a little bit of time and tell us about the Grace story. I know, as you said, you’ve been there since 2015, but what kind of church did you find when you arrived, and how did you go about determining what needed to be done, and how did you go about doing it? Maybe some of the battles you fought and won, some of the battles that you fought and lost as well. How long before you really started seeing turnaround?

Mark Dooley:
Give us a bit of the chronology of the revitalization story. And I know just in conversations that we’ve had, that the Grace story involves the BCMD’s Tom Stolle, who served as interim there for a while. He had a critical emphasis for the church that I think set the tone for what followed. You and I have talked about that. I want to make sure that you include that for everybody listening. If you will, talk to us a little bit about that.

Pastor Davis:
Yeah. Grace was a church that was established in 1959, and like a lot of churches in America, it was established around an industry. Industry in Seaford Delaware was the nylon industry. Seaford is still called the nylon capital of the world, and DuPont was the biggest industry that was there. As people would move into the town, they would, of course, want to find people that were like them, had the same culture as them, background. One of those backgrounds was people that came that were Southern Baptist. And so, as they came into town, they began to get together and put together a Southern Baptist plan. There’s a lot of really cool people had a part in that plan. Walter Agnor, if you remember him, was actually one of the folks that actually helped Grace become a church. Walter was actually on my ordination council.

Pastor Davis:
I thought that was humorous, years later, to think, gosh, God was putting those two things together, or us together, even back then. Grace went through several pastors, and as far as churches went, they were doing very well. But again, it was very much connected to the life and vitality of that industry. As DuPont died, the church began to slowly die with that industry. In fact, all the churches, regardless of their denominational background, had the same experience in Seaford.

Pastor Davis:
As they slowly went downhill, as far as their weekly attendance, it got down to the twenties and thirties on a typical Sunday. A lot of the folks that I get to do ministry with are still there that remember that. They even say they remember how hard that was coming in and then doing their count. They had, really, just one family, and family ministry at the time. When I arrived there, I stepped down from my appointment at the previous church, knowing that God wanted me to revitalize, this is the impression I got from the Holy Spirit, a dead church, somewhere on the eastern shore.

Mark Dooley:
Just to jump in, that was Oak Ridge Baptist that you were at prior to Grace, right? You were on staff there?

Pastor Davis:
Yes. With Dan. Yeah. We served a lot together in there, learned a lot together. Dan’s being humble. He has two other churches he was a part of in revitalization prior to Oak Ridge, so he has a wealth of experience there too. When I arrived there, you’d asked me, how did we know what to do? One of things that we noticed was that Tom Stolle had been appointed the interim in ’14. Tom told him, he says, I’m not going to be your pastor, but I want to help prepare this church in a healthy way, and I know that prayer is a part of that process. That’s the tilling of the soil, I think, in a lot of ways, if you want to a biblical illustration. Tom said to them, really bold, he said, look, if you have to make a choice between making Sunday, hearing me preach, and making our Wednesday night prayer meeting, make the Wednesday prayer meeting.

Pastor Davis:
He began to teach church how to pray less inward and more outward. And so they began to pray less about their aches, pains, ohs, and woes, and they began to pray about the community around them. The potential death of this church. What did God want to do with the church? That happened for almost a solid year before I arrived. They began to really seriously look at resumes. A lot of pastors gave them specific plans, but I told them I wasn’t going to give them a plan, that I thought that they were a part of the plan, that the leadership team that was there, and I needed to know what the issues were. What we initially did, Mark, is we began to meet and just disciple the core leaders of the church. And I want to remind people, the core leaders are not the people in title. They’re the people that have influence.

Mark Dooley:
Right.

Pastor Davis:
Once I figured out who the real influencers of that church were, I began to meet with them and just go through some biblical principles of what the church is supposed to be, which challenged, for many of them, what the church is. Another critical component in that year was they read Autopsy of a Deceased Church. I would say two critical things that happened to prepare that church, really, the easy way for me, was their prayer life was great, and they had come to a point of repentance. They began to ask for forgiveness for the ways that they had led the church to decline that were not connected to the Great Commission, or the Great Commandment that really lacked humility. There was a humble spirit when I got there, which really made revitalization easy. I can go through a lot more details, but I’ll let you lead me through some good ones. There’s plenty of war stories that are fun.

Mark Dooley:
Yeah, but those spiritual emphases I think, are so critically important, because, especially the prayer. One of the big knocks on Southern Baptist prayer meeting, and we’ve probably all experienced this, is that typically it’s a who’s who in the hospital. We come together and we say we’re going to focus on prayer, and we spent 50 minutes going over prayer requests and talking about prayer, and then oh, we got 10 minutes left. Let’s say a quick prayer. That’s not really prayer meeting.

Pastor Davis:
One of the things I did that Dan can speak even more to, because he got there pretty early on in the revitalization, but before he got there, I took the choir director, who had been there 50 years, and the organist who had been there longer, and I sat down and I actually took them through the theology of worship. That worship is not about a style. That worship is about an offering, which we give to God, which is unique among each church based on their giving. As they learned that, they became more open to different expressions of worship.

Mark Dooley:
So you discipled them. Imagine that, following what Jesus said, to teach them to observe all things that I’ve commanded you, and to understand the truth of the Word. Dan, let me jump over here to you. I would love to hear from you a little bit about what revitalization looks like from the perspective of somebody who’s not the senior pastor. How intentional would you say a staff person needs to be in the revitalization effort? And throw in there too, if you would, not just the staff people, but what about the laypeople of the church? How involved do you think they need to be in revitalization? Let me just give you one example. I’ve known some guys in leadership who, their attitude is, I’m in charge. I make all the decisions and the church membership is here to follow what I say we need to do, so just shut up and just listen and just follow me.

Mark Dooley:
Personally, I’ve never found that to be a helpful paradigm, because I don’t even think that’s leadership. I think that’s more dictatorship. Leaders lead people, real, living, people who breathe, and whose lives are impacted by what we do. And they have ideas of their own as well. Sometimes they’re wacky ideas, but sometimes those ideas are great. Talk to us a little bit about your perspective of lay involvement when it comes to revitalization, and how you saw that playing out at Grace.

Pastor Wilson:
I honestly think everything centers around love. Leaders lead people, but leaders can’t lead people, really, to the gospel and to Jesus and what his mission is for that church until they love them. The success stories and the failures that I’ve seen in churches really culminates in that, is that if your people, your leadership in your church, does not love people, they love their institution, and if you have a pastor there that does not love people, he may love his title, or he was there and has not fostered that within his community. That’s what you’re going to see. You’re going to see us against them. It’s a sad state when a church gets to that, because it really is dead, because it doesn’t beat the heart of Christ anymore.

Pastor Wilson:
All the times and the experiences that I’ve had, what it boiled down to was when the leadership of the church and the senior pastor were in unity together, that doesn’t mean that they believed that they were in the same mindset on every aspect, even on doctrine, but they believed that God had called that man. And they also believe that God had called this church for this community and for the people who come through the doors or outside the doors. Again, if you have no love, you have nothing.

Pastor Davis:
Just a resounding gong, huh?

Mark Dooley:
Yeah. That’s exactly what I was thinking of, Larry. While Dan was talking there, my mind was going to 1 Corinthians 13, now abides faith, hope, and love. These three. You could have a pastor, a staff member, a church member who are people of faith. They can have great hope in the gospel, but where’s the love? What’s the condition of the heart? Now abides faith, hope, and love these three. And Paul said, the greatest of these is love. That’s a phenomenal word, Dan. I hope that we’ll all listen to that and love our people, because that’s what God has called us to do, is to love the sheep.

Pastor Davis:
The problematic thinkings I’ve found in the churches, we’ve tried help to other churches with revitalization, is their thinking sometimes centers around things like, we just need a different pastor, a different leader, a different worship leader. We need new staffing.

Mark Dooley:
We need a new program.

Pastor Davis:
We need a new program. Our finances need to be shored up. These are the things they focus on, but they’re not the critical metrics, because they’re very difficult to measure, love.

Mark Dooley:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great.

Pastor Davis:
I’d have to say, I noticed that about Grace when I visited, because their worship was deplorable. Their process was horrible, but they did have a love for one another, and it was cultivated by genuine prayer.

Mark Dooley:
You talked about helping other churches, and either of you can jump in here. Do you think it’s possible for every church to be revitalized, or are there just sometimes, maybe some cases, where we just need to say, you know what? The ends is here. This church has been on life support long enough. There’s no use prolonging the inevitable. Let’s just let this church die its natural death.

Pastor Davis:
When I was asked this question first, was by Randy Millwood at the BCMD, and he heard that I’d stepped down with no place to go and was looking for a dead church. I’m sure his heart was like, poor guy. Took me out to lunch, and he said, do you think every church has a natural lifecycle? At that point in my life, I didn’t know the answer. I really didn’t. So, he put me in a deep prayer, meditative mode, and two critical passages came back to me, Revelation 3, especially two and three. You look at these churches, and you realize they no longer gather in their current form, but those people went somewhere to keep spreading the kingdom and the gospel. And then you look at Revelation 3:19-20 which evangelists will use to say Jesus is the door of your heart knocking, but that’s not the context of that passage. That passage is he standing outside the door of the church knocking.

Mark Dooley:
Yeah. Wanting to come in.

Pastor Wilson
Yeah. So I would say that’s a critical component of looking at the church and answering the question, do they need to die or not? Because if you’re just going to let Jesus remove his lampstand and go somewhere else, he’s going to do that. The other one is John 12:24, which is where Jesus himself says, unless a grain of wheat falls and dies, it only remains a single, but it can be multiplied. And I think he was referring to his own crucifixion in the context of that passage, which means I began to put those together and say, every church has got to die. They have to.

Pastor Wilson
They will either die to self, or they will die with an excruciating, Hospice kind of death. They get to choose which one, but they don’t get to choose whether they’ll die, they’ll die one way or the other. Spiritually, in surrender to Jesus, which then mirrors his death, his burial, and then a resurrection, or they will die physically. And then there still can be a birth there, potentially, of a new plant or different situations. But I would say the answer to that question is every church must die one way or the other.

Mark Dooley:
So much of the gospel is counterintuitive. To be first, you have to be last. To live, you have to die. I just wonder how many people are listening right now, thinking to themselves, I thought we were going to be talking about revitalization, new life, and here you are, Larry, talking to us about death? What sense does that make? Well, it makes about as much sense as some of the other things that Jesus said. But you’re absolutely right. We cannot live unless we first die.

Pastor Wilson:
When a church is at that point, it’s also an understanding, and we talked about humility, is that, listen, when they’re asking for help, or they’re asking for a new pastor, they’re asking for a new worship leader, they have to realize that it’s either because there’s expansive growth, or they think that they’re just needing some other element to help them achieve a goal. But if that element isn’t understood with extreme humility, saying, listen, Lord, when we bring this new element in whether it’s a pastor or another staff person, if the church is in decline, there has to be, with the elders of that church, with the leadership of that church, as a real humble spirit to say, you know what? God, what are You trying to teach us? How is this person that we’ve prayed for going to help implement that?

Mark Dooley:
Amen.

Pastor Wilson:
Instead of us trying to tell them how the church should be run, it’s, God, what movement are You trying to do?

Mark Dooley:
That’s a great word. Go ahead, Larry.

Pastor Davis:
No, I was just saying, one of the things that Dan sparking in me, which is so beautiful, is some people will read a book and then they’ll say, let’s copy this model of revitalization. What I’ve learned is you can’t do that with revitalization. Every community is unique. Context is unique. The struggles are unique. The leadership issues are unique. And it really does require the humility that Dan is saying, to come before God and say, lead us biblically through this unique revitalization of this church, into what You want this church to be, whatever that is. We surrender it to You.

Pastor Wilson:
The idea of revitalization, yes, there is a point where you’re on life support, or you’re dead.

Pastor Davis:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pastor Wilson:
I think every church should periodically be revitalized. I can’t tell you how many churches, they get to a 200 mark and they can’t grow anymore. Or they get to the 500 mark. Or they get to the thousand or the 2000 mark, and all of a sudden, it just seems like nothing’s working. They’re not seeing what they feel is growth, or what they feel is a good metric for which to grow. [crosstalk 00:20:16] And what happens is God has said, okay, I’m waiting for you to actually have that humble spirit. I’m waiting for you to be weeping at the chair of that person that you used to weep for, but now you’re too busy, because you’re in a process planning meeting. I think God does that, and that America’s church has to realize that we all, personally and corporately, need a revitalization.

Pastor Davis:
Yeah. I think, Dan, one of the things you’re bringing up, which is so key, sometimes we’re not even aware of it, but we start trusting processes and systems and finances, and even a leader. We can even make the church centered around a specific leader. And what happens is we forget to come back all the time and say, what is it You want to do new, Lord? What is it You want to do new? Because He does. He takes us through seasons of revitalization as He expands His kingdom. Some of those require a lot of humility. What if God wants to replant? You’ve mentioned that, Mark, within your church, a whole new movement?

Mark Dooley:
Right.

Pastor Davis:
Would we have the humility to say, yes, Lord?

Mark Dooley:
I think you’re absolutely right, Dan. Every situation is unique. We are the body of Christ. Just looking at the three of us here, none of us look the same. We all look unique. Praise God, you guys don’t look like me. The world doesn’t need any more mes. The world doesn’t need any more yous. God has made every one of us unique. He’s made every church unique. And so every story, every revitalization story is going to be unique. I agree with you. We can’t just look at how another church did it and copy it and expect the same results. But with that said, I do think we can learn from one another. What about either of you, as far as conferences or books or things like that, did you attend those? And if so, what did you find particularly helpful?

Mark Dooley:
I know as we were saying, you both came out of Oak Ridge and Salisbury having served on staff there, so I assume that you’ve probably been a part of their Dream Conference, which I think is a great, great conference. I’m certainly glad to recommend that, but what about any other conferences? Were there any that you found particularly helpful? Larry, earlier, you mentioned Rainer’s book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church that Grace had been going through. Are there other books like that, that you would recommend and say, hey, guys who are looking at revitalization efforts really need to check this out. Really, two questions in one. Conferences and books, what would either of you share about that?

Pastor Davis:
Definitely Autopsy of a Deceased Church. That’s a book that’s going to help you to diagnose and see what the common things are that lead churches to death that Dan was describing. The other things, I would say, one of the best conferences I went to was renovate type of conference down with NAM. When they first started doing it, it was Legacy Replanting, or something like that, at that time. Networking with some of those individuals was really helpful. There’s a lot of pastors out there doing revitalization. And then, I read a Shannon Odell book early on, which a lot of people don’t know about, which was about the rural church in America.

Pastor Davis:
Here’s a guy who had left the larger church context like me, and he had gone into a small Arkansas town. His perspective has to change. And I think that’s one of the things that was helpful for me. You need to understand the context of your community. Like Dan was mentioning different sized churches, we’re in a town of 4,500 people, about, the city. You can’t expect the same type of evangelistic results if you’re in a town like Salisbury, that’s 65,000. It’s a bit different.

Mark Dooley:
Absolutely. You mentioned renovate. Let me just mention this, and then I have one question I want to make sure to get to, because I think it’s very critical in this day and age that we’re living in. We’re talking about books and conferences. Let me just jump in and let everybody listening know that the BCMD Network is focusing this year, heavily, on revitalization. We have a series of webinars that are going to be taking place through June. There are eight separate webinars in that six-month time frame. You can learn more about those by visiting bcmd.org/revitalization. In addition, from August 29th through September 5th, Dr. Kenneth priest, the Director of Convention Strategies for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and a great partner with the BCMD, by the way, he’s going to be in Maryland and Delaware that whole week to be available for church consultations.

Mark Dooley:
I don’t know if you know Dr. Priest or not, but he’s one of the church’s thought leaders on the topic of revitalization. If you’d like more information about having him come to your church for a consultation on revitalization, leadership, building projects, or any other area of church life, if you’ll just reach out to me at [email protected], we’ll be glad to discuss with you how to arrange that.

Mark Dooley:
You were mentioning renovate, Larry. I want all of you to mark the dates October one through two on your calendar for 2021, because the BCMD is going to be sponsoring our Renovate Conference. We’re going to partner with the National Renovate Organization to host that Revitalization Conference at Riva Trace Baptist, which is just outside Annapolis, and that event is going to feature keynote addresses, breakout sessions, dynamic worship. And in addition, if you come, you’ll be able to browse a bookstore and a display area to be exposed to and to purchase numerous revitalization resources.

Mark Dooley:
Originally, we were supposed to do it this past year, twice, actually, but COVID interrupted those plans, but we’re excited. We’re going to be able to do it this year. Be listening for more information about that conference, as well as registration details, and plan not only to participate, but even more importantly, bring your church leadership to participate as well. Because it’s not just a conference for pastors, but for all. Speaking of COVID, that’s really the last thing I want to mention and get you guys’ input on. I can’t close our time without asking you about this, that we can all relate to.

Mark Dooley:
Whatever level of revitalization any of our churches might be at, this past year has been crazy. No seminary education, no practical experience could have ever prepared any of us for the COVID-19 experience. The way we worship, the way we serve, the way we experience church is completely different today than how it was one year ago. And I think it’s going to remain different going into the future.

Mark Dooley:
If we think everybody gets vaccinated and then we’re somehow magically going to go back to the way things were overnight, we’re naive at best, and deceiving ourselves at worst. The church of the future is going to look different. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that. What do you think the church is going to look like? What are some key principles effective leaders need to hone in on? What does this mean when it comes to revitalization? What are your thoughts on that, guys?

Pastor Davis:
I’ll be brief, so Dan’s got some time in there. One of the other things I would read in revitalization, or when you’re leading change, is people don’t understand the change process. Harvard Business Review has a great book on essentially leading the change process. It has a lot of examples, and what I learned by reading about John Kotter, who is the father of change management, was that he derived his stages of change management by studying the grief process. The reason this is so important, is every pastor has had to lead their congregation through grief. It will be an immediate way for them to connect to how to love, as Dan said, and lead through a change. [inaudible 00:00:27:43] are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They’re not really ready for change until they get to acceptance.

Mark Dooley:
Yeah.

Pastor Davis:
But you can pastor them through each of those phases. When they’re in denial, you got to hit them in the head a little bit and say, this is really where we are. When they’re angry, you’ve got to bring them to the table to begin the conversation. When they’re bargaining and saying, we just need some of those slight tweaks that we talked about, new pastor, new programming, different finances. Again, you’ve got to bring them through that and lead them through those pieces. And then when they’re depressed, you’ve got to bring them back to the hope of the gospel. The church’s mission has never changed.

Pastor Davis:
I think that that’s real helpful for me through COVID, because I can do that right now with our church, with our core team. That can still happen. We still need to lead them through those processes of change. And I would say Grace is about to go through a change and I know Dan senses it as well, because the reality is, we’ve got to continue to reach people with the gospel, regardless of COVID.

Mark Dooley:
Exactly. Yeah. Our mission has not changed one bit. The methods may change because of this, but the mission remains the same. Dan, what input do you have for that?

Pastor Wilson:
I think one of the pressing issues that is facing the church nowadays, is that people are uncertain. What a lot of people did is they went to church, because that’s where they got their identity. I don’t say it wasn’t because of their relationship with Jesus. I think it was part of their relationship, but they got their identity based upon the service that they did. And now that that service has been taken away, there’s a lot of depression. There’s a lot of questions being asked. I think the big thing that we have to do as church leaders in this time is tell people that you are not important because of what you’re doing. It’s because of who you are, you’re a child of the King.

Mark Dooley:
Amen.

Pastor Wilson:
You’re a prince of the Father. And it’s because you’re doing it, it makes you special. It’s not because you are doing that. It’s because you are a child of the King and you are cleaning the toilet at church, or you are helping your neighbor that can’t get groceries. It’s not because you’re getting groceries for somebody. It’s because you’re a child of the King getting groceries for someone. And I think it’s so important that we recognize our calling, that we are not orphans. We have a Father.

Mark Dooley:
Amen to that. Guys, this has been so encouraging to me, and so helpful, I believe, to others to hear the Grace story, to hear the principles that two guys who are leading their church to be revitalized, and that is exactly what you’re doing. I hope that people will hear this story and understand that this can happen in my church too. That is what I’m praying for, for all the churches of the BCMD. I know you guys join me in that prayer. If any of you would like to talk to Larry or Dan further, if you can reach out to me, [email protected], I’ll be glad to get you linked up with them. Let me just lead us in a closing word of prayer, and then we’ll wrap up. Thank you guys for your time today. Let’s pray.

Mark Dooley:
Father, we thank You for this day. We thank You for the opportunity that we’ve had to have this conversation. We pray, Lord, that as we conclude now, and as we continue to go about the work that You’ve called us to, the work that You have given us, that we will be faithful to that task. We will keep our hand to the plow. We pray for all of our churches. We thank You, Lord, for the example of grace and the way that You have worked there, and pray that You will equally work in all of our churches Lord, and that You will breathe new life as we die to self, and as we watch You raise us to the newness of life. We pray that all of this would bring honor and glory to Your name. And it’s in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.