A church should begin a new venture with real vision and a lot of support and enthusiasm among its members. As the work progresses, there will be encouragements and surprises, but also discouragements and problems. People may lose enthusiasm. Leaders may leave due to health or work pressures. People in the community may feel threatened by changes and complain to the authorities.

A church needs to maintain and renew its vision. Set aside time to pray and seek God’s guidance. We can renew the original vision and enthusiasm through Bible study, reflection and teaching. We all need such times of refreshment in our Christian lives.

Make time to stop and review progress on a regular basis. Reflect on what is going well, what could be improved and what has surprised people. Consider whether the work is meeting the needs of the poorest. Give thanks to God for all the positive things that have happened. Don’t just look at the problems, which can so easily dominate! Such reviews allow people to share their feelings and concerns instead of building up resentment. Changes can then be made, if necessary. Some areas of work may be put aside to meet other growing or unexpected needs. Other people can be challenged to participate and share in the work.

Discussion 
  • What experiences have we known in life of enthusiasm ‘leaking’ away? Discuss these. What was the result? What was our response?
  • Why is it useful to set aside time to reflect and evaluate progress – or lack of progress? Why do we often find it difficult to set aside such time?
  • How often should we take time to stop and review our progress?
  • Read Leviticus 11:44-45. God calls us to be holy as he is holy. The word ‘holy’ means ‘set apart for God’.
    • What does it mean to be ‘set apart for God’ in our daily lives?
    • How can we become closer to what God wants us to be?
  • Read Revelation 3:1-6. The second and third chapters of Revelation are messages from God to seven different churches. This passage is written to the church in Sardis but serves as a warning to all of us.
    • What did people in the community think of the church in Sardis?
    • What does God think of the church? What makes him most disappointed?
    • What warning does God give if the church does not change?
    • What encouragement does he give for those who follow His way?
  • What other examples are there in the Bible of people losing enthusiasm for a particular work or vision? What was God’s response?
  • How can we encourage discussion or support groups to help people share their feelings openly and work through any problems or discouragements?
  • How can we use challenges and setbacks as opportunities for learning?