*Editor’s Note: Renew.org will soon be three years old. We interviewed Bobby Harrington, one of the co-founders and the point leader of Renew.org on the progress of the network.
Q: What is the most exciting thing about the Renew.org Network?
The answer, hands down, is God’s provision. God has provided again, again, and again. Three years ago, we were just a group of church leaders who cared about upholding the teachings of Jesus in the face of progressivism (on the one hand) and rigid traditionalism (on the other). We then agreed upon the faith statement, the mission, the vision, and the values statements. People provided initial financial support. We created branding and found a cool website, Renew.org. Then God provided a COO in Jason Henderson, and an editor in Daniel McCoy. Now, in addition to a very good website, we have print books, individual mentors for leaders, an expanding group of senior ministers/pastors in Learning Communities, and we look forward to our third annual Gathering.
Q: Why is the Gathering in 10 days so important?
Several years ago, Seth Godin wrote a book called Tribes. For some people, that expression can sound problematical, but as he intended the term, it describes a group of people who work together in different places, with common beliefs, values, and mission. We at Renew.org need a national tribal Gathering where we come together. We celebrate what we have in common, and metaphorically we beat the drums for our values, beliefs, and mission. In a COVID-19 world, our Gathering will be limited to 300, but it is still important.
All of our speakers are aligned around the same DNA. We will champion the seven values that fuel disciple making. We will pray together, and we will praise God together.
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Q: What is the most interesting thing about Renew.org?
The people who have been drawn to our network because of our beliefs. They join because beliefs matter to them as they matter to us. For example, Matthew Bates, an evangelical New Testament scholar, teaching at a Roman Catholic University, joined us because of our beliefs—and then he helped us by articulating them even more profoundly in his book, Gospel Allegiance. Carol Swain, writer, speaker, and former tenured professor at Princeton and Vanderbilt, is helping us with upholding God’s holiness and being countercultural. Shodankeh Johnson leads a disciple making movement that is transforming a whole country (Sierra Leone). Corey Trimble, lead minister of the rapidly growing Experience Community Church, joins us because he cares about upholding Scripture and disciple making.
Renew.org recently published Corey’s book An Authentic Experience: Creating an Inviting Culture with Biblical Integrity. Last year everyone in attendance at the Gathering got a copy of Matthew Bates’s book Gospel Allegiance, and this year, everyone in attendance gets a copy of Corey Trimble’s book, An Authentic Experience.
In addition to numerous people from various backgrounds, we have countless leaders joining us from within Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. God is bringing together a really cool group of people, all focused on the same beliefs, values, and mission.
Q: What is the biggest challenge Renew.org faces?
Putting enough energy and focus into prayer. Psalm 127:1 describes it well:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”
As we have in the past, we will “tithe” our time in prayer during the upcoming Gathering. We will pray for 10 minutes each hour. We have monthly prayer meetings, but we want to focus much more on fasting and prayer.
Q: What most excites you about the Renew.org Network?
Our Learning Communities for senior ministers/pastors. At the Gathering, we will introduce 10 senior ministers/pastors who are each guiding 6 to 12 other senior ministers/pastors through our Learning Community in the next year. We spend one day together every second month.
Last month, Dave Clayton of Ethos Church and Awaken Nashville taught our Learning Communities on the power of the Holy Spirit. Next month, David Young will teach them about the dangers of progressive Christianity, and then, in January, Corey Trimble will share with them how to uphold the values of authenticity and Biblical integrity. Then in March, Brandon Guindon will introduce everyone to the dynamics of what it means for a whole church to be focused on disciple making as he shares the information in his book, Disciple Making Culture.
We are excited about expanding the number of leaders who are guiding these Learning Communities—and the number of leaders who will be joining them in the future. As a network, both our national and micro-gatherings are very important to us.
I hope you can join us as during our Gathering as we thank God for all that he is doing.