It is common practice in today’s organizational structures to create metrics; things by which success of agreed upon goals can be met. The nature of the church as a spiritual body, concerned with often-unseen results makes the development of measuring metrics difficult if not impossible. Presbyterian pastor, Harry Reeder, in From Embers to a Flame, is concerned with showing the church leader what the church can do to achieve its mission; but shows that the metrics for the church are best measured not by particular achievements, but by always coming back to where the church draws its strength. Building success in the church is always linked to the concept of returning to a Biblical source. Innovations come and go, and can be important as tools, but a living church is always marked by how close it is to its source.

In today’s Western world, much of the church has slowed not only in numerical growth, but in drifting away from its mission. Even in conservative churches, it is not uncommon for needs other than centering the congregation on grace, or evangelizing and serving the community to be addressed. Sick churches, with focuses on personalities and programs (the seen things) often lose the heart for the gospel that grew them in the first place. Revitalizing a dying church body forces the members to be active and to take ownership of the ministry that the whole body has been called to. When a church gets to the point where a pastor must be the one who leads, but does the work; then there has been a terrible disconnect among the membership and the pastorate about the necessity of communal ministry.

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Reeder’s solution is one of remembrance and repentance. His emphais is to point out how a lack of vision can be deadly for future endeavors, but so is a lack of perspective about the past. Any church that believes its history began 50 to 100 years ago when the body was first organized has at best a myopic view of its past. It must see the wide scope of church history, the great cloud of witnesses who teach truth from their graves. The long gone must infect zeal towards those who are among the living dead. Repentance of the past and desires for future man-centered ministry must be done away with. No body can survive unless it is honest about the information it gathers about itself.
Church revitalization, a major concern for Reeder, always begins with the ending and beginning of the Christian faith in refreshing people in the gospel. It is impossible for an effective ministry to operate; from ruling to teaching elder to deacon, unless those charged with leadership know the Bible and how to apply it to the specific needs of their people.

Reeder’s purpose in this book, to encourage and motivate Christians for the work of revitalizing dwindling and lethargic congregations, is done through reminding those who desire to revitalize their churches what their first principles are. The metrics for church revitalization are not necessarily accomplished through visible achievements, like new structures, programs or large numbers of people, but more actively accomplished through increased faith by congregations that shows itself in visible actions towards each other and the surrounding community.

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