As a kid, do you remember the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme? Let me refresh your mind: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” (Do you need a Kleenex?)
In many ways, the church I helped start and pastor for twenty-one years was full of Humpty Dumptys, me being the lead, Reverend Dumpty. We are all hanging out on the same wall, and we’ve all taken a sinful fall or two or three or…, and we’re left with broken, shattered lives and dreams. Let’s be honest. Church is messy because people are messy (even pastors are messy and broken).
Ultimately, God wants to do more than repair our broken pieces or patch us up. He wants to make us new. We know this. Jesus’ payment for our sins through His death and resurrection makes new life possible. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
We have a new life in Christ, but how do we work out this new life in our daily lives, repairing the brokenness in our lives? Discipleship. It’s following in Jesus’ footsteps, learning from Him and obeying His commands and principles. It’s taking steps to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus.
So, when Watermark Community Church offered our church the opportunity to be a host site for a Christ-centered, twelve-step recovery program called re:generation three years ago, the Humpty Dumptys of Heartland Community Church jumped in and began the journey of experiencing what this new life in Christ could be.
Now, three years later, how has God used re:generation in the lives of our church?
- God changed me, Rev. Dumpty. When I went through Step 4 (Inventory) God revealed some personal life-long sin patterns and misplaced worship. The people I hurt, attitudes and actions I had spiritualized away, and untamed pride were exposed and addressed (Ouch!).
- Masks came off. As I stopped hiding my sin, so did many others. We stopped masquerading as spiritual phonies and Heartland became more authentic. We confessed our brokenness and now openly shared our hurts. Sure, it’s messier (embrace it!), but as a church family we became healthier spiritually and relationally.
- Miracles happened. I’ve seen God do miracles in hundreds of lives. I had hoped after 33 years of ministry to say I had walked on water, moved a mountain, or changed water into Dr. Pepper. But now I can only say, that I am just one of God’s walking miracles. The stories of radical life change at Heartland are off the charts. I’ve found that a “church success” isn’t measured best by attendance, square footage or budget, but rather by the miraculous stories of life change through God’s power at work in people.
- Leaders were developed. As participants found freedom and discovered their new life in Christ through these biblical twelve steps, their response was to then lead others as mentors or group leaders of other Humpty Dumptys who had also fallen off the moral wall. Our leaders began to grasp Jesus’ Great Commission of Matthew 28 to go and make disciples—to tell and lead others to a new life in Christ. In many ways, re:generation became a leadership factory, cranking out fully devoted leaders for Jesus.
But remember this, re:generation is only a tool—a catalyst for change in churches that are willing to change. Every step of the curriculum directs people to follow fully the One who does the changing—Jesus Christ. Christ is the one who makes us new. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.