Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Resurrection vs. Regeneration

Once again, I have run across something that made me go hmm...and it actually clarifies something I have struggled with for a while.  Current "churchese" talk circles have said that the United Methodist Church needs a resurrection to happen.  I understand the point they are trying to make, but the term has bothered me.  So I looked up the definition in my Webster's dictionary and here's what it said:
"the act of rising again, after death"
So, are we saying the church is dead?  I don't buy that!  If you look at what Wesley wrote in the sermon that I posted yesterday, he said that there was a remnant or "seed" that remained, and it sprouts and it grows and it matures.

This morning I was reading in Wesley's Christian Library a piece from John Arndt's True Christianity.  He talks about following the pattern of Christ and he uses the term "regeneration".  Regeneration-it is a very interesting term!  Here's the definition:
"to give new life or vigor to-a spiritual rebirth" 
This is a term I can relate to-it makes sense!  It also illustrates exactly what I was seeing in the Book of Acts (which I posted about last Thursday).  The Spirit is not dead!  The church by extension is not dead because a remnant or "seed" remains!  Let's apply it to the model that I noticed in Acts.

The Apostles were the first "spiritual generation".  They planted seeds in the Disciples (the second spiritual generation) and they followed the pattern of Christ-they grew, they matured, they became leaders.  Stephen and Phillip and Barnabas became "seed planters" and Christianity spread.  They did their apprenticeship at the feet of the Apostles, then they were sent out as leaders to continue the process.  Regeneration was built in to the system right from the start!

Here's the modern day lesson for the church.  Discipleship done well has regeneration already built in to the system!  Our members need to spend time at the feet of good leaders, listening, learning and seeing how things are done BEFORE you put them in to leadership roles.  They need time to mature.   But once they reach that level of maturity, they can then become leaders themselves and they can plant the seeds and lead others through the same process.  The individuals that they Disciple can then become leaders as well, once they reach that level of spiritual maturity.  And the process continues.  Active regeneration.

Regeneration does not start from a dead place.  It starts from a living place.  The Holy Spirit is alive and well! It does not need to be resurrected.  The only thing that needs work happens to be "us".  We need to embrace regeneration in ourselves.  Then we can start the process of regeneration in our churches.

I'm liking this idea of regeneration!  :-)


  1. Great distinction.

    Our bishop preached a sermon a couple years ago at a conference event about the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel. Even then, he had to dance around the notion that the dry bones were dead bones.

  2. Thanks John! When we talk about the church I really do like the definition that goes with regeneration better. I really think it is a better description! And the fact that it was used historically, that's even better! :-)