10 Ideas to Power-Up Your Church to Pray
Two major research projects, involving growing churches, demonstrates the importance of prayer to their growth. Conducted by teams from the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., these studies show that prayer not only opens the hearts of non-believers, it empowers growth in believers. Thus, prayer is a vital component of both evangelism and discipleship.
However, my experience is that most churches talk more about prayer than doing it. While they sense that prayer is important, it isn’t part of their DNA. As a result, there is far too little power under girding the church’s ministries and other efforts. Too many congregations are “doing church” in their own strength.
What is the answer? There are many, such as a praying pastor taking the lead or challenging deacons and elders to pray. Still, I propose a different starting place: give the church some simple ways to pray together.
A simple strategy . . .
These suggestions may seem so basic that they border on ludicrous, but my point is that a praying church becomes a praying church only by praying together. Most people need ideas to get started. If we can give them some strategies, the fire of prayer may spread throughout the congregation. Here are some simple ideas:
1. “Focus on the Family” praying: introduce to the entire congregation one (or more) church families per week. Ask them to commit to praying for that family throughout the week. This method helps the congregation get to know one another, particularly in a growing church
2. “Church Calendar” praying: rather than using the church calendar only for scheduling and announcements, encourage members to pray daily about each event planned for that day.
3. “Targeted” praying: as a community outreach, “target” community groups like teachers, police officers and government officials. Be sure to inform the groups that you are praying for them and invite them to submit concerns via the church Web site.
4. “Drive-by” praying: encourages the congregation to pray for members and other churches each time they drive by a member’s home or another church.
5. “Progressive Dinner” praying: utilizing a “progressive dinner” format that allows members to share a meal in multiple homes, focus on praying at each home and for the neighbors each family is trying to reach.
6. “Birthday Celebration” praying: publish a list of members’ birthdays and challenge the church to pray for others on their special day.
7. “Prayer Survey” praying: encourage members to survey their neighbors and co-workers by simply asking, “Our church is making a special effort to pray for our community. How can we pray for you?” Be sure to lead the church to pray for these needs.
8. “Prayer Points” praying: at a pre-assigned time each week (e.g., Wednesday at noon), have members stop whatever they are doing and pray for the church and community.
9. “Spotlight the Children” praying: if your church has children’s Sunday school, enlist a different group of adults each week to walk past those classrooms and pray for the teachers and children. Be certain to first secure appropriate clearance for entering the children’s wing.
10. “Neighborhood Walk” praying: challenge members (especially those who already walk in their neighborhoods) to focus on praying for each of their neighbors. Pray that they will become strong followers of Christ and serve him in a solid evangelical church.
Strategize to take the initiative
There is nothing magical about these ideas; I suspect that there is little new here. What concerns me, though, is that most churches don’t take even small initiatives to get their members praying. What little prayer occurs is more reactionary praying rather than proactive praying. That is, we only pray after learning of a problem. A family is in turmoil, so we start praying. A son is wayward, so we add him to our prayer list. Our church faces conflict, so we decide to pray for our pastoral staff. None of these prayers is wrong, but in many cases the damage is severe long before we start praying.
With few exceptions, the methods listed above require us to pray proactively that is, before we hear of problems. This concept of prayer is almost foreign to many, but such a proactive step is one way to help change a church’s DNA. Hopefully, a few of these ideas will help you get your church praying, and then the fire will spread.
Chuck Lawless, Ph.D., is Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth and Dean of the Billy Graham School at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of four books, including his latest, “Membership Matters: Insights from Effective Churches on New Member Classes and Assimilation.” Dr. Lawless also consults with churches on church health and growth and is an instructor with Church Central’s Church Consultant Training.
This article “10 Ideas to Power-Up Your Church to Pray” written by Chuck Lawless, was excerpted from: www.churchcentral.com web site. February 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.