Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Day of Repentance

Often, during a DTP consultation, the revitalization team prescribes for a church to have a service of repentance.  During the service, the pastor leads the entire congregation as they prayerfully ask for forgiveness for the sin of self-centeredness and disobedience to the Great Commission.  This blog outlines one of the more effective services of this nature that I have been a part of.

The Niskayuna Wesleyan Church is located in a suburb of Albany, NY.  Half a million people live within twenty-five minutes of their property.  Thousands of cars go by daily!

In 2013-14, the church averaged 68 in the Sunday Morning Worship Service.  Josh and Jess Woods, thirty-somethings, answered the call to lead this congregation.  They arrived in August 2013.  The repentance service that follows was put together by Josh, and it took place on June 8, 2014.

Just after the service, the church property was shut down to undergo a facelift.  Services were moved to the Central Park in Schenectady.  During the two months of mobile worship, the core was challenged to relaunch under an other name--Awaken (, with revitalized purpose and passion.  A neighboring church, Fusion Community Church, is sending 40 missionaries to aid in this relaunch.

Preview services start on September 21, 2014, with the ReLaunch Sunday scheduled for October 12, 2014.


The Heart of Repentance:                                                                               
June 7, 2014
Message Outline
Preached by Rev. Josh Woods


·       Matthew 5:13-16
God has called us to be salt and light. This was a completely radical concept as was the rest of the sermon on the mount. He was speaking to a group of people who hearing this for the first time did not understand their roles in Gods kingdom. Jesus laid it out very simply; you are to be salt and light.

·       He explained it another way in Matthew 28:19-20. He said you are to make disciples of all nations. You are to be salt and light and you are to make disciples of all people.

·       He also called the first disciples, who were fisherman, to follow Him. His first instructions for them were to lay down their nets, but it wasn’t to quit fishing, it was to change the scope of their fishing. They would now learn how to fish for people.

·       A man named Saul was walking along a road to Damascus and was suddenly thrown off his ride and made blind. Then he went from being a Jesus persecutor to a Jesus follower in one moment. If you are a Jesus follower in this room, how many of you came to know Jesus that way?? Didn’t think so.

·       The really cool thing about the kingdom of God is that we have been given a calling as a church. we have received a calling to be salt and light, fish for people, make disciples. Jesus didn’t have to include us in this, but He did. This is a responsibility we have to take seriously.

·       The problem is…….as a church in our location we haven’t been faithful to the calling we have received. We haven’t been these things consistently over the last 20 years and we have to understand what business we need to be in. We are in the soul winning business. We are in the business of seeing people far from God radically transformed by his grace. We are in the business of seeing hearts awakened to Christ.


Today we are here to repent for our unfaithfulness to the calling God has given us. Before we pray, let’s talk about what it means to repent before God. There are four aspects to repentance that we need to talk about before we pray

I.               We have to own our disobedience

In our culture we have a tendency to avoid responsibility for our actions. In some ways it’s almost celebrated, even in the church. We come by it honestly however. Look back to the early chapters of Genesis. God gave Adam and Eve responsibility and one rule. If you’ve been in church any time at all you know how the story goes. Check it out in Genesis 3: 7-13. (In verse 12 rewrite to where Adam says “ Yes I did and I take full responsibility for my actions, leave Eve out of this, she is innocent”.) But the reality is that He started playing the blame game. He blamed both the woman and God. Then Eve blamed the serpent.

That cannot be our posture; that is the opposite of repentance. Contrast that to the attitude David took in Psalm 51.

We have to own our disobedience, we can’t blame anyone else. It is on us.

II.              Our heart has to be in it
My kids often will get into arguments that sometime turn into fights. They are pastor’s kids. Whenever we get in that situation we often want to discuss the issue with them very calmly and try to offer what we are supposed to do when we argue. We ask them to ask each other for forgiveness and forgive each other. It turns into a quick sorry from each. And they are back to what they are doing.

Did they really mean that they are sorry it did they say it to get out of trouble?

In order to fully repent we must put our heart into it. God isn’t looking for us to say I’m sorry, He is looking for us to be truly repentant.

III.            There is Grace for us
2nd Chronicles 7:14
When we repent, God answers. God forgives.

It would be very easy for us to just move forward from this moment and take a new direction, but forgiveness must come first. We have to have grace before we can get back to our new direction.

He is faithful to forgive even when we have been unfaithful. This was Israel’s cycle throughout the Old Testament

IV.            We must turn from our disobedience
This means we are going to go a new direction.

We are no longer going to be content to be inward focused, making decisions that are best for everyone already here. We are going to make decisions with all we have to reach those who aren’t here that are far from God.

We are not content to be ok with a “good enough” mentality any longer. Our facilities and ministry have to be done with excellence from this point forward.

We are no longer content to let the thousands of people far from God in our city and community stay that way. Today we are asking God to break our hearts for these people. We are going to pray that we are broken to the point that it consumes everything that we do. People far from God need to be awakened to life in Christ.

God has called us to be salt and light, make disciples and be fishers of people. We have been disobedient to that calling. Today we take a posture of true repentance and come before God seeking forgiveness for our unfaithfulness. We turn a new direction and we are going to see hearts awakened to life through this church.


(Song sung by Carrie Hulse)... 

By: Laura Story

My heart is so proud. My mind is so unfocused.
I see the things You do through me as great things I have done.
And now You gently break me, and I cry just like a baby
You hold me as my father and mold me as my maker.

I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,
When I keep on letting you down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness abound?"
And You answer: "My child, I love you.
And as long as you're seeking My face,
You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

At times I may grow weak and feel a bit discouraged,
Knowing that someone, somewhere could do a better job.
For who am I to serve You? I know I don't deserve You.
And that's the part that burns in my heart and keeps me hanging on.

I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,
When I keep on letting you down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness abound?"
And You answer: "My child, I love you.
And as long as you're seeking My face,
You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

You are so patient with me, Lord.

As I walk with You, I'm learning what Your grace really means.
The price that I could never pay was paid at Calvary.
So, instead of trying to repay You, I'm learning to simply obey You
By giving up my life to you For all that You've given to me.

I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,
When I keep on letting you down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness abound?"
And You answer: "My child, I love you.
And as long as you're seeking My face,
You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."


Repentance Prayer by 
Diane Stum

Thank you that you are forgiving and that despite all our failures, our inadequacies and our disobedience, you desire to use us to reach people.   Thank you that you care so much for us and so much for the people in our community.  God, we truly believe that you have put us here in this place and that you desire to use us so that people far from you can come to know you.  So, we ask that you would give us your vision to love and serve our community. 

We ask that you would open doors and give us opportunities to love people, to serve them and to share you with them in our larger community.  That you would make us a place that people in the capital district know, respect and want to partner with. 

We pray that you would use us in Niskayuna.  That people who drive down Balltown Road everyday would know that our church is here because we are active in the community.  That they would recognize us as a place that loves and serves.  We ask that you would use us in the community.  That you would open doors for us to partner with our town and other community organizations.  That we would be eager to serve them and they would be eager to receive help from us.  When the community has needs we ask that you would bring us to their minds – we want to be known as a group that serves and serves well and is an asset to the community.  Give us the desire to serve and to serve well.  Pray that you would go before us and that you would help us to make connections with people in leadership in the town and in the community, and that they would desire to receive help from us and partner with us in Niskayuna.  We pray that you would open doors for that to happen and that you would give us the desire to take those opportunities and the resources and drive that we need to do that well. 

Pray that you would open doors in the schools in Niskayuna and other neighborhoods.  That you would provide for us opportunities to serve there and to be a positive force in the schools.  Pray that you would break any barriers that prevent us from serving there and that you would make the right connections for us so that we could be a group that the schools look to when they need help.  

We pray that you would help us to build strong friendships with people in our community.  That you connect us with people and that our friendship would make an impact on their life.  That you would provide opportunities for us to love friends with no strings attached and that people would see Your love as we live life alongside them.

God, It’s overwhelming to think of the responsibility we have to share you with our community.  It’s overwhelming to know how many people are far from you.  In the past few months, we have seen how very fragile life is and how very quickly and shockingly life on this Earth can end.  I know without a doubt that when Zach’s life on Earth ended, his life in Heaven with you Jesus began (Diane's 34-year old husband, Zach, died just a couple of months before the consultation).  But, God, we can’t have that confidence for the majority of our community.  Break our hearts for those people far from you and guide our steps as we seek to love our community and share you with them.   There are so many opportunities to serve and so we ask that you would help us.  That you would give us your eyes to see where we can have the most impact and where you desire us to serve.  Pray that you would direct us, that you would guide us and that you would use us as you lead us.  Show us where you want us to serve, what opportunities you would have us take advantage of and give us the desire to obey you and the strength and endurance to serve you by serving our community.

We thank you for the resources that you have blessed us with.  Thank you for giving us a location with such potential.  Thank you for placing us on a busy road where we have the potential to be so visible.  Help us to use that wisely and to really make an impact in our community. 

Thank you that we have a district that believes you will use us in this community and that is enabling us to fulfill our vision.  Thank you for the leadership and wisdom from the DTP that is helping us to take this new direction that you have called us to.  Thank you for providing that.  Thank you that the district believes in us enough to provide funding and resources to us.  Help us to be good stewards of that and to use those resources wisely.  As we make decisions about how to use resources like money and work crews who want to help us, guide us to what will make the most impact on our community for you.   

Thank you for bringing Josh and Jess here and that they were willing to take a huge risk because they believe in you and they believe you want to use this church to reach Niskayuna, the capital district and beyond.  Thank you for the vision and experience they bring and for giving them the courage to follow you here in obedience. 

Thank you for the people in our church.  Give us your wisdom, guide us as we take this new direction.  Help us to be obedient and to serve in the ways that you have called us.  Pray that you would clearly call us to serve in the areas we are gifted in and that we would serve well.  Give us the desire to serve, the boldness to step out of our comfort zone when we need to, and the strength and obedience we need to do what you have called us to do – to love our community and to share you with them by loving and serving them well. 

Jesus thank you that you love us.  Help us to share that love with those around us in our community.  We pray for our friends and neighbors – that you would become real to them and that they would know your love for them in a very real way.


Repentance Prayer by
Allie Ardrey

Heavenly Father, we come before you today in a spirit of repentance.  We acknowledge before you that, at times, we have been disobedient, at times we have ignored You and the call You have placed upon us as a church.  We are here today to repent and to embrace the calling that You have placed on us to take Your name into the world and make disciples of all nations.

We acknowledge that we have not been completely faithful to the calling we received.  We acknowledge before you that we have not been as focused on our community as we ought to have been.  We have witnessed our community grow around us.  We have witnessed thousands of people far from you move into our city, and we confess that we have not been faithful in showing them Your Son, Jesus.  We confess that we have not been faithful in building relationships.  We confess that we have not relentlessly sought to bring the lost to You.  We confess that we have not become an overwhelming presence in our community; a beacon of light so that people can see You and enter a life-changing relationship with You.

We confess that we have not been faithful in fulfilling the Great Commission.  We are guilty of not making disciples in our community and of being inward focused instead of focused on the people around us who are far from God .  We seek forgiveness for not showing those people what it means to have a life-changing relationship with You.  As we are gathered here this today, we think of relationships that we have with friends, family, co-workers, and classmates.  There are so many people in our lives who are far from You.  God, forgive us for not leveraging our relationships to tell people about Your life-changing grace.  Forgive us for not seeking with all our hearts a way to show them that your love and mercy can awaken them to new Life.  And forgive us for not daily being in prayer for open doors and opportunities to tell our community that You are alive and that You care about them.

God, we seek forgiveness for not being involved in our schools.  We have not sought opportunities to get involved in our local schools nor used our resources and time to effectively make an impact on local education.  We seek forgiveness for not using our student and children's ministries to reach children and teens effectively who are far from You.  For the thousands of young people around us who desperately need a relationship with Jesus, we ask for Your forgiving grace for not pursuing them.

Father, we confess before You that we have not leveraged our property and facilities to show our community who You are.  We have let our grounds, building, and parking lot become outdated and, in some cases, run down.  It is not a good representation of You to our community.  We literally have thousands of different people drive by our church property every day and they don't even know that we are here, or who You are.  We seek forgiveness for not being faithful with our property.

Jesus, we confess before You that we have not leveraged our finances to fulfill the Great Commission.  We have, at times, been very inward focused and worried about the people already here as opposed to the people around us who desperately need Jesus.  Forgive us for our disobedience.

God, we come before You, seeking forgiveness for our unfaithfulness, even though You have always been faithful to us.  We own our disobedience.  God, forgive us for not being faithful in making disciples of all people around us.  Forgive us that our desire has been more focused on ourselves than on people far from God.  We are seeking You fresh and anew today.  We believe that there is grace when we turn from our unfaithfulness.  We believe that you are faithful to forgive, and that when turn to You with all our hearts, You are there and will hear our prayer of repentance.  God, forgive us, as a church, and show us Your mercy and grace.

In Jesus' Name we pray,

No comments: