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As a church family, we’ve been calling 2020 a year of renewal…but this year has been a weird sort of “new,” hasn’t it? With all that’s going on in the world, it’s hard to imagine what renewal really means for any of us right now. But no matter what our experience may look like and feel like at the moment, God is in the business of making all things new…even if we don’t see it yet.

1. Be with Jesus, and be renewed.

Isaiah 40:31
Leader Notes

  • God invites all of us, at every time, to live upward, inward and outward. That means, God wants to do a work of renewal in our hearts. As we trust God and walk with him (upward), he transforms how we love ourselves (inward) and how we love others as well (outward).
  • That’s why, when we wait on the Lord, he renews us in a unique way. He doesn’t renew us in the same way a good night’s sleep or even a good conversation with friends can be restorative. He is interested in total renewal.
  • In a time when we are encouraged to spend more time alone than we would like to, it can be easy to see this as lonely isolation. However, for believers time “alone” is an invitation for more time with Jesus.
  • Intimacy is communication over time. Our strongest relationships are found with people who have spent the time with us. It’s a slow growing process, and one that is easy to try and rush. In a time where our circumstances aren’t what we want them to be, this is an opportunity to grow in intimacy with God.
  • Sometimes we forget that God is a Father who loves to spend time with us! We are his kids. Often, our time with God can become fractured by our busyness. For many of us, it’s been a long time since we came back to God and just said, “I’ve missed you.”

What do you need to do to grow in intimacy with God? How are you waiting on the Lord right now? What are the ways God is currently renewing you?

2. Be the Church, and work together.

Isaiah 40:31
Leader Notes

  • Because we can’t gather in our church buildings in the same way we always have, some people are afraid this will be the death of the church. In reality, the church is the people of God across all times and places.
  • If we don’t recognize what the church looks like right now, it’s because we need a little perspective shift. The church is not just a building or even a gathering. The church is the people of God partnering with his Spirit to bring his kingdom on earth.
  • Even at a physical distance from one another, we can be the church and work together. We can talk to each other (thanks to technology) and encourage one another. One of the most important things we can engage in right now, from wherever we are, is to pray for one another, for our churches and communities and for our world.

What does it look like for you to be the church right now? How can you better work together with your brothers and sisters, even at a distance?

3. Be on mission, and transform everything.

Isaiah 40:31
Leader Notes

  • God is still on mission in the world! Nothing will change or stop that. God’s mission is to bring people into right and saving relationship with himself unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. He has invited us to be a part of that incredible work by sharing the love of Jesus with a lost and broken world. That mission might look a little different right now, but the purpose is the same.
  • As the church, we take part in God’s mission by default. God’s children have always been “priests.” In the Old Testament, the priests were the people who stood before him and talked to God on behalf of others. This is now our role in this time, to stand before God and intercede on behalf of our communities and our world.
  • National crises reveal to us what really matters. Not only that, but they create the space and form the context for renewal. God is bringing a renewing work in the lives of his people, and he can use our current situation to do it. As we prioritize in the way God does, he brings us back to his heart and to the identities he’s called us to.

What are your personal next steps in the mission God has given you? How is God reshaping your priorities right now to match his own?

Optional Follow-up Questions:

  • What makes you say that?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
  • Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
  • What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
  • Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?