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“Drawing on her family roots of both Jewish and Christian faith, [Rebekah] challenges the Church to dream again, to recapture the vision of making the Kingdom of God a reality.”

—Phil Maynard, author, Shift 2.0 and Discipler

“Rebekah Simon-Peter shares of her life and of her passion for creating a culture of renewal. She DAREs you to dream of things that could never be without a full surrender to God through Jesus Christ.”

—George Bullard, Exec. Dir., Columbia Metro Baptist Assoc. and Strategic Leadership Coach at www.BullardJournal.org

“What a gift this book is, both in content and form!”

—Rev. Elaine A. Heath, Ph.D., President, Neighborhood Seminary

“Simon-Peter helps congregations reclaim the big dream of faithful living and dare to make it a reality, transforming lives and communities.”

—Bishop Karen P. Oliveto, United Methodist Church

 

DREAM LIKE JESUS:

Deepen Your Faith and Bring the Impossible to Life

By Rebekah Simon-Peter

 

The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip according to two Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019. The surveys found that “65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular,’ now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.”

“Our mainstream congregations are in trouble,” says Rebekah Simon-Peter, author of DREAM LIKE JESUS: Deepen Your Faith and Bring the Impossible to Life (Market Square Books), adding, “attendance is in decline and many churches are struggling to survive. Formal religious practice is no longer the centerpiece of American life. Too many people think the church is there to judge them, rather than free them. To limit them, rather than empower them. And the corporeal reasons are all too familiar—uninspired preaching, soccer practice, the failure of society, golf, overpacked schedules, lack of engaging activities,” she says.

The Decline of Christianity in the United States

The Pew report goes on to reveal that “both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious ‘nones’ – have seen their numbers swell.”

But this is really the product of thinking too small. Simon-Peter wants to show Protestant congregations how they can imbue new life in their church if they would only embrace the empowerment that is their Christian heritage.

Simon-Peter, who is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, has created a guide that is filled with practical leadership advice and deep spiritual uplift. Her handbook teaches clergy and lay leaders how to recapture the vision that is at the core of Christian belief, the new, empowering conversations that Jesus inspired through sharing visions that had never been uttered before. Rather than the nice, safe, predictable Jesus of mainstream religion, Simon-Peter shows how the rabble rouser of the New Testament can inspire congregations to dream big dreams and develop big, bold visions where the church is the agent of the vision, rather than the recipient.

To get started, Simon-Peter identifies the eight symptoms of a church without vision, which include:

  • Shrinking numbers: The first warning sign of a church in decline.
  • Problem people: Conflict increases as the pool of resources decreases.
  • Stagnant giving: If you don’t lead with vision, people won’t be inspired to give.
  • Listless worship: Without vision, worship is like throwing a party where the guest of honor never shows up.
  • Gutless prayer: Pastoral prayer reveals which churches are playing it safe, and which are playing full out.
  • Bait-and-switch evangelism: Young people are looking for a vibrant community of faith, not a poorly disguised attempt to increase donations.
  • Insulated focus: A congregation that isn’t an integral part of the life of the community.
  • Dead-end decision making: When caution elbows faith out of the driver’s seat, nothing gets accomplished.

To address these problems, Simon-Peter introduces the DARE model of dreaming like Jesus—Dream (like Jesus), Align (others to your dream), Realize (the dream) and Expand (the dream).  She encourages congregations to dream big and own their spiritual authority. To understand their role as a partner in creation of a better world, a world where anyone can reclaim Jesus’s power to dream and co-create miracles. A world where new and better realities are brought into being. And the time to start is now.

 

REBEKAH SIMON-PETER is passionate about reconnecting spiritual leaders with the God-given powers to co-create miracles with the divine. Her award-winning program, Creating a Culture of Renewal®, has energized church leaders across the country to reclaim their calling and to grow their ministries. She is also the author The Jew Named Jesus, Green Church, and 7 Simple Steps to Green Your Church. Learn more at rebekahsimonpeter.com.

 

DREAM LIKE JESUS:

Deepen Your Faith and Bring the Impossible to Life

Market Square Books; $16.95; 178 pages; ISBN: 978-1-950899-04-3