"The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “ Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven! ” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “ You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out. ”
As a result of the near-death experiences of many congregations today, denominational leaders are looking for ways to “revitalize” churches. The act of revitalization often starts with the assumption that what was once vital can be vital again, if church leaders simply do the same better. So congregations increase programs, budgets, and formulas. They look back in time, trying to recapture a period when the church’s role in society was vital. A church, seeking revitalization, typically does more of the same, but faster.
However, the central story of our faith is the story of both death and resurrection. Followers of Christ like to live out the resurrection part of our faith, but they often aren't very comfortable dealing with what must come before resurrection - death.The church must be willing to live out its entire story, from beginning to end.
The church needs to trust that God will bring to life what God wants to. This book suggests shifting away from the language of revitalization toward the story of death and resurrection. Escobedo-Frank focuses on ten specific “re-“ words to outline a strategy for dying and resurrecting again - for restarting the church:
If you are as sick of hearing clichés about leadership, strategic planning, and entrepreneurship as I am, you will love this book. A hard, candid look at the church, Escobedo-Frank calls us to death, to fail into success, to resurrection. The stories alone are worth the price of the book.
--Tex Sample, Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Professor Emeritus of Church and Society, Saint Paul School of Theology