"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. ”
The demands of congregational ministry are many, the rewards sometimes seem few, and burnout becomes a real possibility. Small wonder, then, that churches become stuck in a state of arrested spiritual development. When the pastor is functioning in a survival or maintenance mode, the church's vitality is often the first casualty. Yet Wills's own experience demonstrates that churches can turn around; the wind of the Spirit can be felt anew. This happens when the congregation is infected by the vision of what God is doing in their midst--a vision which the leaders, particularly the pastor, must bring before them.
In Waking to God's Dream, Richard Wills shares the spiritual disciplines and insights which he believes account for the transformation of the congregation he serves from a large church in decline to one that is growing and reaching out to its community in a variety of creative ministries. Detailing the steps and initiatives that led to this turnaround, Wills demonstrates how personal commitment on the part of the congregation's leaders and ministers have been the key to the work they have accomplished.