Words have power in the force of their meaning and in their effect in communication. When words contain prefixes and suffixes, the power of those words to communicate meaning is re-enforced.
Re is one of those prefixes that have what I consider a secret power in the sense that it is often overlooked and seldom appreciated for its power to enhance the meaning and impact of important words and concepts.
Re has two basic usages: (1) again, again and again as in repetition, do over. (2) back, return to a former condition.
Re is at the heart of the Gospel and the biblical call of God to individuals and churches.
The Gospel do over. The Good News to people and to leaders is that the God of the Bible is a God of rebirth, redemption, regeneration, renewal, and reconciliation. He is the God of new beginnings and do overs. At a personal level, we all need a Gospel do over, the rebirth that makes us new creations in Christ. In our spiritual development we need times of renewal again and again. Leaders who understand the secret power of re are always alert and cognizant of the Spirit’s convicting call to corporate do over as well.
Advancing backwards. It is counterintuitive to think of progress in reverse, but there is a strong biblical case for understanding spiritual advancement that has a backward motion. The God of the Bible is constantly calling his people to repent, return, refocus, rebuild, and restore. Many leaders are pushing and plunging their people in a headlong forward motion believing that all progress is forward progress. The Bible tells a different story, however. The secret power of re is the idea that advancing the Kingdom requires a return to God, a rebuilding of the sacred relationship between God and people, and a refocusing on the mission.
The power of re is especially important to second and third generation churches where the fire has died down and the people have grown lukewarm and the focus has been obscured by other activities and priorities. Rekindling the fire is not a matter of going back to old methods and past glories, but rather a return to the church’s first love.
Advancing backwards is not an attempt to turn back the clock. It’s about turning hearts back to God. In many churches mired in mediocrity and struggling to find a way forward, the only way forward is the way back. It is really no secret at all that leadership is the key to the Gospel do over and bringing people back to their first love and advancing the Kingdom by the fire of the Holy Spirit’s heat and light.
Hal West spent 33 years as a pastor with an emphasis on creating effective change and transition in a traditional church setting. He is the President of Compass Coach and Consulting (compasscoachandconsulting.com) whose mission is to assist pastors and churches find the road to success. He has authored 3 books. His latest is The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back (CrossBooks Publishing, 2011)