Jervis Djokoto (MDiv 2020) and his wife Robin were driving home from Toronto when they passed by a Christian bookstore that they had frequently visited. Instead of the familiar sight of the bookstore, there was a yoga studio.
“It wasn’t an isolated case,” Jervis says. “Church and Christian store closures and mass faith exoduses are unfortunately not new to the North American context.
“As statistics continue to reveal, there has been a widespread decline in participation in organized religion in the Canadian context since about the 1960s. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that a third of Canada’s faith buildings were in danger of closing. Now during the pandemic, projections of church closures are far more alarming.”
“The whole book is about spiritual renewal and how the Church can stay alive for the long haul,” he explains. In the first part of his book, he writes about his upbringing in Ghana, his personal journey and how it influenced his understanding of renewal. In the second part, he devotes a chapter on what spiritual renewal is and the trends he has noticed with regard to the shifting centre of Christianity. And in the third section, he provides recommendations on how to take action. Jervis is currently working on a second book in the series called Re:Form, The Holy Spirit and the Revitalization of Christian Mission.
Jervis is a pastor, a graduate of Tyndale Seminary’s Church in the City (In-Ministry) cohort-based program and now pursuing his Doctor of Ministry in a US-based seminary focused on the Holy Spirit and Renewal Theology.
“In my first year at Tyndale, we went through a counselling program that helped me understand how I was framed as a leader; my weaknesses, the things that stress me out and how to build a rhythm of life that balances work, school ministry, diet and all of that. It was very important for me to ensure that I was healthy as a leader and could minister to others from a healthy place,” he says. “Theological education, ironically, helps us acknowledge our limitations as human beings as we try to understand God better and speak faithfully about Him.
“At Tyndale, I was also introduced to robust biblical theology; spiritual formation; contextual theology; urban ministry; missional, ecclesiological and Pentecostal theology; and church history, just to name a few,” he says. “Everything I learned impacted my perspective on the ideas I share on spiritual renewal in this book.”
As part of his final project for the MDiv program, Jervis started YARN (Young Adult Renewal Network) in 2019. YARN connects young adult pastors and leaders through discussion and prayer on Facebook. A conversation which later culminated in his penning this book, and the creation of the Re:New Movement – a budding ministry dedicated to resourcing and equipping Christians to renew their lives and ministries in Jesus’ name.
“My hope is that more Christians see themselves as “renewal catalysts,” dedicated to knowing more about spiritual renewal and how they can partner with God in bringing renewal to their lives and to churches” he says.