Revive, Part 1: Practising Christians

By on March 23, 2022
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Often, there are tools at our disposal that help us in our ministry context. Yet, we may not always be familiar with them, know how to access them, or know how they can be used to their full potential. Revive is one of these tools, designed to help guide and deepen the spiritual growth of participants and leaders through particular experiential practices. The potential result is a richer faith, a growing intimacy with God and a deeper relationship with each other. 

In this three-part series, we examine who Revive is for, and the impact it has had on participants and leaders alike. In part one, The Rev. Canon Martha Tatarnic shares her experience of Revive on practising Christians in her congregational context. Next month, watch for part two where The Rev. Fran Wallace shares Revive from her perspective as a leader in the church, followed by part three which looks at Revive from the context of the spiritual seeker.

If you would like information about Revive or wish to know more about how to launch Revive in your ministry context, please be in touch with The Rev. Canon Leslie Gerlofs at [email protected]

I remember entering a patient’s room at the St. Catharines General Hospital about twenty years ago. I was a young seminarian doing a placement as a student chaplain, and this was my first assignment. I understood that I would need to be ready to pray with the patient, and I went into that room clinging to my Book of Alternative Services prayer book like a drowning person might cling to a life raft.

I had been attending the Anglican church most of my life and had been in leadership in the church since my teens, yet the idea of praying out loud, on the spot, with another person, filled me with paralyzing terror.

Martha Tatarnic

My twenty-something self represents the kind of Christian that the Revive program speaks to. Although there are all kinds of people in our churches—with very different spiritual temperaments, backgrounds, and ways of communicating their faith—there is a stereotype about Anglicans that holds some weight. Many of us have understood faith to be a very private matter. Although we live our faith, are prepared to serve our church, and deeply value our relationship with God and walk with Jesus, we have very little experience and even less comfort with putting this into words.

Revive was authored by The Rev. Canon Dr. Dawn Davis primarily as a response to this kind of Christian. She saw the faithfulness of the people in her congregation, their hard work and devotion, as well as their predominant dis-ease with expressing their faith verbally. She began inviting her key church leaders to this time of intentional spiritual learning, equipping them in feeling confident as spiritual leaders—able to pray, lead Bible study and speak comfortably about their relationship with God.

We began offering Revive at St. George’s in the fall of 2018. It is by invitation, offered to a small group (6-12) key leaders of the church, and it is a year-long commitment broken into three six-week modules. We are currently in the middle of our fourth year of the program, with our fourth cohort of leaders. We offer it as a way of spiritually feeding those who are so quick to work so hard for the sake of others. We offer it as a way of expanding the spiritual culture of St. George’s: developing our community into a place where we help one another name and claim the power of God at work in our lives. We offer it as a way of honouring the gifts people already bring to the table while also recognizing that we are all life-long students on this journey.

Through the carefully-prepared materials on prayer, Scripture, and discernment, participants gain valuable resources in their prayer lives and spiritual growth. But equally as important to the program as the actual content is the relationships that are formed with one another and with the parish priests over the course of the year commitment.

The Body of Christ is blessed by people of varying gifts, differing backgrounds, and distinct ways of being called to serve. It is a significant gift to any of us, and all of us, to become better equipped to share our relationship with God—in prayer, in story, in deed—with others.

  • The Reverend Canon Martha Tatarnic is the rector of St. George’s, St. Catharines. Her second book, Why Gather? The Hope & Promise of the Church, will be published in June 2022 by Church Publishing, and will be available at https://www.churchpublishing.org/whygather. The Living Diet is also available through Amazon, Church Publishing and the author.