Monday, January 29, 2007

RESOURCE ~ Inspire Young People in Global Prayer

EthnĂȘ World Changers' Prayer Handbook

Ethne Prayer Handbook
EthnĂȘ World Changers' Prayer Handbook for Young People is designed to help inspire informed prayer for the least-reached peoples around the globe. With clear explanations of who these groups are and why they remain least-reached, the handbook lays the foundation for understanding, then presents overviews of the peoples of each of the 12 regions with specific people profiles and prayer points for four specific groups in every region.===>Click headline for more information . . .

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A. C. T. S. Prayer Stations

"And with that [Jesus] breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22). "They saw...tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3).

Editor's note: Read with thanksgiving about what God has been doing in Orange City, Iowa:

Just wanted to let you know about our 24/7 experience. Trinity did a full week, October 22 to 29. It was unbelievable. We ended the week with an evening time of sharing about facility needs and our vision to add on, rebuild, or relocate. I won't tell you all that happened, but below is an excerpt from a chapter in a book that Jeff Barker is writing:

Leap forward nearly two decades after I joined that pastor in helping start a second service. I still attend that church. The church and I have both grown and continue to grow. This fall, we organized our first ever 24-7 prayer week. Our senior pastor got together a small team who agreed to pray, organize, invite others, and set up the sanctuary. The plan was to divide the week into one-hour blocks and invite the members of the congregation to sign up for at least one hour to pray in the worship center. We had previously prayed for one day (24-1). We did that a few times. Then we had prayed one week in which people signed up for a specific hour to be at prayer in their homes or at their work sites. Now we were ready to try for a week in the church building, in the place where we also meet together to worship. One of our team members said, "I think we should start smaller--maybe 3 days of 24 hour prayer." We thought for a heartbeat and said, "Nope. We're ready for a week. Here at church."

We created stations for prayer right in the sanctuary. The stations represented the A.C.T.S. acronym for prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. A small group of artists put together interactive visuals at each station.

The adoration station was near the piano with song books, books of written prayers, and a large wall of white paper with plenty of colored markers for making images as expressions of adoration. Think of us as kids giving Abba stuff to put on his heavenly refrigerator.

The confession station was the communion table with a candle, a written prayer of confession, and a large white swatch of paper with charcoal for making marks in representation of sin.

For the thanksgiving area, Lois, who loves to do flower arrangements at our church, made a beautiful table decoration with fall flowers and gourds. Also on the table were various colors of post-it notes for writing thanksgivings. The notes could be plastered on a large board which had been covered with black paper so the notes would visually leap like confetti. People coming to pray could join their spirits with thanksgivings already posted there, and then they could write and post some of their own.

The supplication station included pictures of missionaries our church supports, along with a basket to collect short written prayers for healing, salvation, or whatever. Someone listed our church leaders there to remind us that they need our prayers.

On the platform was an open Bible with a little post-it marker. We were encouraged to find the marked spot and read aloud a chapter or two. We might be able to read through the New Testament in a week. There was a CD player with CDs scattered around for those who wanted music as they prayed.

During Sunday worship at the beginning of the week, the stations were there across the front of the sanctuary, with empty papers and unburned candles.

All that day, and the next, and the next, I would suddenly remember, "Someone is praying now." Surely this is always true. Surely the church catholic does indeed pray without ceasing. But this was a more palpable reminder. These were people that I had met and seen in church. And they were praying for many of the same things I was praying for.

As I stopped by the building on Wednesday to check on the supplies, I saw that those papers were filling up with drawings, and charcoal markings, and post-it notes. I read those thanksgiving notes and saw those scrawlings at the confession table. I read through the requests in the basket. I saw a church full of people with passionate faith chasing after God. This was the church that cannot be seen very often. It was breathtaking and heartbreaking.

I was signed up to pray at 3:00 this morning. I was afraid I would oversleep, so my inner clock woke me up at 2:15, long before my alarm went off. I was glad that I could turn the alarm off before it awakened my family. I crept downstairs. I was thinking about what I would find over at the church building when I got there. I hoped I would find one of my students, Tracey. I had talked three of my students into each taking one hour. I couldn't be certain whether they were doing it out of respect for the Lord or for me, but they did say yes. I made some hot chocolate to give Tracey when I replaced her at 3:00. I think I was feeling guilty for urging a busy student to come alone to the church in the middle of the night. When I arrived, she was sitting on the steps at the front of the sanctuary. I wondered if she was asleep. I walked slowly up to her and began to say the Lord's Prayer, which was the way we had been instructed to pass the prayer baton. She wasn't asleep. I saw that she was writing in a prayer journal.

She joined me in the prayer, and as we got to "Give us this day our daily bread," I set the hot chocolate in front of her and she immediately reached for it. After we together said, "Amen." I said, "You may take that mug with you," and she said, "Ohhhh." She stood up and started to walk out of the sanctuary. Then she stopped and turned and said to me, "We should do this every week."

The story of the church at worship is always being lived. Every so often it can be seen.

We are making plans for more opportunities in the coming year, including the possibility of doing it for the whole (or part of the) season of Lent. Thanks for getting me started.

Blessings on your day!

Jon Opgenorth
Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa

Editor's Note: Get the rest of the story at Jeff Barker's website:

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Inner~Views: Guiding Students into Radical Prayer

Prayer Leader interviewed Mike King, author or Presence-Centered Youth Ministry

book cover

PL ~ Mike, your new book, Presence Center Youth Ministry, approaches youth ministry from a radical perspective - How is your approach different than the prevailing youth ministry culture?

The approach I take is radical. The meaning of the word radical, comes from the Latin word (radix)meaning root. In this context, Presence Centered Ministry is radical because it goes to the root of biblical Orthodoxy and embraces Orthopraxy (biblical practice.) The gospels invite us and the youth we work with to “pick up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Jesus.” This is the kind of adventure that is compelling to passionate young people. I believe that program driven youth ministry that focuses on getting a kid to heaven when they die and concerns itself primarily with keeping our young people free from smoking, drinking, and premarital sex fails to represent the Great Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ who is inviting young people to join the revolution of God’s Inbreaking Kingdom.

PL ~ You devote an entire chapter to prayer-practices - Is prayer even on the radar screen of today's students?

Studies continue to show that adolescents are positive about prayer and claim to practice prayer with a pretty high level of frequency. I think that our concepts of prayer are quite basic and non-creative. Not only adolescents, but adults in most Evangelical environments view prayer as a list of needs and hopes they have for themselves and loved ones that they run down with God on a regular basis. I have found that teenagers are very interested in learning how to have a deeper, richer more creative prayer life.

PL ~ Are the "practices" you identify simply traditional methods dressed up for a younger generation?

Maybe, but I find that adolescents are quite fascinated in discovering different ways that followers of Jesus have approached prayer throughout the history of the church. Paul’s instruction to pray without ceasing in I Thessalonians 5:17 has led to a rich and meaningful exploration of ways in which we might be faithful to this exhortation. When the young people begin interacting with the Presence of God through the intimacy of prayer, contemplation and meditation – transformation occurs.

PL ~ What are young people looking for in a prayer experience?

An encounter with the divine, to experience the reality of intimacy with God along with the sense that they are being obedient to the reality that God wants us to pray and that their prayers make a difference.

PL ~ What encouragement, advice, even warnings would you give an older generation prayer leader that wants to bring the generations together for prayer?

Don’t try to lead kids somewhere you haven’t gone. Discover first and foremost a rich prayer and devotional life for yourself – then leading the young people will be a natural expression of your own spirituality.

PL ~ Are you hopeful or despairing about the up and coming generation? What do you see as the future of prayer in the Church?

I am more than optimistic. I believe this emerging generation of Christian young people is eager to link a passionate prayer life with a passionate praxis – an embodied faithfulness to living in the radical way of our Lord Jesus Christ.

PL ~ Mike, write a prayer that prayer leaders can pray with you, calling on the Lord to equip them to serve or resource the prayer needs of the youth in their congregation . . .

I am passionate about writing and developing prayers. I am working on a Prayer Book right now. However, in thinking about your question the prayer that keeps coming to mind is the Jesus Prayer… “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” This prayer is one of the simplest, yet most profound prayers we have in the Christian tradition.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Inner~Views: Developing A Prayer Culture

Prayer Leader Interviewed Steve Loopstra on a “Developing a Culture of Prayer”

PL ~ Steve, you recently led a workshop on "Developing a Culture of Prayer" ... Why are prayer leaders beginning to think about the need to develop a culture of prayer?

I’m finding a genuine interest in the concept of a “culture of prayer” because it challenges us to look at prayer from a whole different perspective than we are used to. And I think a more Biblical view as well. Rather than seeing prayer as another “program” to run in the church, looking at prayer as a culture, takes us to a whole new way of looking at prayer, and how it is or is not a part of our church lifestyle.

PL ~ Help us get our arms around this new concept - Define and describe "culture" ...

Culture, simply defined, is the sum total of the lifestyles of a particular group of people. It involves not only our actions, but those unspoken ways that we communicate and interact with one another. It involves those things that we grow up with, and become “second nature” to us without our even thinking about them.

PL ~ How does a prayer leader apply the concept of culture to a congregational prayer strategy?

If culture has to do with mindset and lifestyle, then the prayer leaders needs to begin to think beyond program to discipleship. How are we helping and encouraging our people to make prayer a part of their lifestyle in every part of their lives, not just in church? Are families praying together? Are couples praying together? Is prayer an integral part of decision making in the church, and not just a couple minute obligation to open the meetings. Are we learning to “inquire of the Lord?”

PL ~ What is the role of the prayer champion in shaping the culture of prayer?

In order to begin to change the culture of the church to a culture of prayer, it will absolutely take the leadership of the pastor, and leadership in the church, working together with those who are championing prayer, whether that be paid staff, or volunteer prayer coordinators. We end our seminars by reminding people that every church is different and unique. This is not some program to copy from another church. Rather, the leadership must be willing to spend the time asking the Lord, who is the Head of the Church, “what would a culture of prayer look like in our church?” This will take a period of time, and commitment individually, and corporately to inquire and hear from the Lord. Then, they must also ask: “How do we change our culture?” The Lord, who is Head and has a destiny for every church has the answers to those questions, and will respond if asked if faith.

PL ~ You state "the culture of an organization operates at both conscious and unconscious levels" - How does this work in the area of corporate prayer?

In every organization there are those “unspokens” that those who have been a part of the organization know without saying them. In corporate prayer, it may be a certain “style” of prayer that we use, that is understood by all who come. If a stranger comes into the group, and begins to pray with a different style, a tension soon is very evident. This is evidence of the culture of prayer in that group. I’m sure we have all had an experience like that. We just never have thought of it as culture before.

PL ~ Identify some of the hidden barriers to developing a healthy corporate culture of prayer.

Perhaps some of these barriers are not so “hidden,” but they are deadly to developing a healthy culture of prayer:

    1. Inflexibility – This has to do with our unwillingness to change our “style”
    2. Stubbornness – An unwillingness to learn new ways
    3. Lack of leadership – No one having a strong enough vision for a culture of prayer to lead the way.
    4. Program mentality – programs are useful to help “disciple” a new culture, but it is very easy for us to fall back into only thinking of this as a program we must run.

PL ~ What scriptures relate to this issue of corporate culture?

Some key verses in the New Testament are: Acts 2:42; Rom. 12:12; Col 4:2. A couple interesting verses from the Old Testament are Jeremiah 23:18 having to do with spending time inquiring, and Jeremiah 10:21 that relates to pastors.

PL ~ What is the first step a prayer leader should take to:

  • Understand the general concept of culture...
    • Two things: 1) Do some reading on culture – educate yourself. 2) Begin to observe culture around you. Make yourself aware culturally.
  • Discern the culture of their church...
    • Look beneath the surface. Why do you do the things you do in your church? What are the “unspoken” things. Ask people, be a detective. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find out.
  • Share their insights with key leadership...
    • Engage your leadership in looking through “cultural lenses” at your church. Expose them to the Scriptural foundation of prayer. A great study is the study of “devoted” that I do in the seminar. It gives the Lord’s expectation for prayer.
  • Begin to reshape the corporate prayer culture...
    • A key in reshaping a culture is to be focused, yet introduce change subtly. Use modeling, and example in subtle ways. Think about how those who have changed our culture (gay agenda) went about those changes. Time, direction, persistence.

PL ~ Steve, please offer a prayer for prayer leaders and our need to discern and develop cultures of prayer...

Father, we want to be a people of prayer. We come to you as did your disciples when you were modeling prayer before them, and created that hunger in them, and asked you to teach them to pray. We ask you that you, by the power and direction of Your Holy Spirit would give insight, and wisdom to church leaders and prayer leaders in local congregations to begin to catch a vision from your heart of what a culture of prayer would look like in their church. Help them to take the time to inquire of you, and hear from you. Give them the kind of vision for a culture of prayer that will keep them persistent until there comes a day when they know there is a cultural change that has taken place in their church. Open our eyes to see prayer in new ways in our churches, Lord, in Jesus Name. Amen.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Pastor, Who Should Be Your Prayer Leader?

Who Should Be My Prayer Leader?

As a pastor who wants to grow more prayer in your church, it is important to understand that to be successful you need to pull others alongside you to help. In fact, while you should stay involved in the growth of prayer at your church, selecting a prayer leader to oversee that growth is an important step. this person will be your legs and arms, developing the nitty gritty plan. But who do you pick?

When most churches pick a prayer leader--one who will oversee taking prayer to the next level--they often think the logical choice is the strongest intercessor. It seems obvious that the person who prays the most and is most passionate about prayer should be the leader. But that is usually the wrong choice!

While the prayer leader should have a heart for prayer, the most effective leader needs to possess leadership and organizational skills rather than be the strongest intercessor. People skills is also a good quality in a prayer leader. The Prayer Saturated Church lists 10 qualities of a good prayer leader. These are simply guidelines; don't wait until you find someone who has all 10 before you select a prayer leader.

-Called By God. Pray and ask God to point out His person. Pray that this person would feel God's call to accept the position.

-Healthy Personal Prayer Life. Look for someone you know prays. One who comes to prayer meetings, who often comments about prayer in conversation are hints that he or she has a heart for prayer.

-Spiritual Maturity. Like other leadership positions, do not put an unseasoned believer in this position. If effective, this person will experience spiritual attack second only to the senior pastor in a church. Satan will want this person on the shelf!

-Leadership Gifts. This position will require a lot of organization and coaxing, encouraging of people to follow. Much wisdom and people skills are needed.

-Ability to Speak/Teach. Since prayer is one of the weakest areas of discipleship in most churches, the prayer leader will likely need to teach on it regularly. He or she could also be in front of the congregation often.

-A Team Player. A "do it alone" leader will never get the job done. A prayer leader will only be as effective as his or her team.

-A Good Reputation. This person needs the trust and respect of ministry leaders in a church. Someone who has difficulty with leaders or authority will be a hindrance, not a benefit to growing prayer.

-The Ability to Lead Prayer. This person should be comfortable leading small or large prayer gatherings.

-A Servant's Heart and Teachable Spirit. A "I know what God wants because I hear His voice" intercessor will cause more harm than good in this position. This person must have true spiritual humility, and a deep respect for the pastor.

-Time to Coordinate Prayer Activities. This position needs someone who is available. If this role simply becomes another job for someone who has much to do, the church will not move forward.

While this person looks like Superman, keep in mind that this individual need not possess all these qualities. His or her weaknesses can be covered by other prayer team members.

Why not the leading intercessor?

If your leading intercessor possesses a lot of these qualities, he or she might be right for the job. But many times a person who prays a lot will have the following difficulties:

Because of her passion for prayer, she will not understand why others do not come to prayer times. She will get frustrated. Soon guilting people will become a part of her recruiting style.

He or she will often have difficulty relating to the average person's prayer life. Communicating about prayer--explaining it so the average person can understand--can be difficult for him or her.

Because of her love for prayer, this person may not see that certain prayer times, formats, etc., are just not working. When questioned about possible change, she'll think, I enjoy them, so what's the problem?

Above all, make this selection a matter of prayer. God will raise up the right person in due time. If I had to pick one quality that stands out above the others, it would be calling. Weaknesses can be overcome if a person has a call on his or her life.

—Jonathan Graf is the president of the Church Prayer Leaders Network. He is available both to do a prayer weekend for your church and to be a consultant for your church as it grows its prayer strategies. You can contact him at

This article posted with permission of the Church Prayer Leaders Network===>Click headline to access information on becoming a member ...

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Inner~Views: Growing a Strong Prayer Ministry

Prayer Leader interviewed Carolyn Fuqua, Prayer Ministry Coordinator @ Biltmore Baptist Church

Prayer Leader ~ Carolyn, how long have you been Prayer Ministry Coordinator and what was the status of prayer when you stepped into that position?

For several years I had worked with the Pastor as a volunteer with the Prayer Ministry then came on staff January 2001. The Prayer Ministry, at that time it was the God's 600, was strong when I came on staff. This was due to the fact that our Pastor had given great leadership to it, and people were excited to pray and watch God great things in our midst. We had watched as Biltmore moved from the depths of despair to getting a glimpse of glory as God worked and moved among our people.

Our continuing goal is to recruit people to pray in small groups, as prayer partners over the telephone, or at home, using a Quarterly Prayer Guide. The Prayer Guide keeps us all focused on the same prayer prompts – the church objectives, ministries, missionaries and staff of the church. The Prayer Guide is published on a quarterly basis and calls attention to the goals and objectives we believe God gave us when our Pastor came in 1993. Biltmore continues to grow under these five objectives: Praying, Reaching, Equipping, Giving and Celebration Worship. We try to be creative in keeping these objectives out in front of our people at all times. And nothing happens at Biltmore unless it comes under one of these objectives. We cannot do everything but we can do what God calls us to with excellence.===>Click here to view the Prayer Guide

Prayer Leader ~ What milestones have been achieved since then? And, what sacrifice was called for to take these steps forward?

We now see a climate of prayer throughout the church leadership and body praying in one accord for God's agenda for BBC. More has been gained than ever sacrificed but an effective Prayer Ministry has many challenges that we must always be aware of. I believe Elaine Helms (Denominational Prayer Leader for the Southern Baptist Convention) said in one of her conferences, “It is easier to get people to sign up than to show up!” How true. A Prayer Coordinator has to lead with tenacity! It has to be a passion.

For me personally, even though I was not aware of it for years, prayer has been a constancy since my teenage years. We will all admit that prayer works, but how persistent and consistent are we to pray? Our culture is diametrically opposed to a consistent prayer life. By that I mean we are living in a culture of “instant results.” We take a pill to lose weight “instantly” without the discipline of proper eating habits and exercise. We want and crave the “easy” way. An effective Prayer Ministry requires hard work and perseverance. It’s not about me or us! It’s about what God wants to do and us agreeing to His timetable. If you become tired, pray! If you become discouraged, pray! If no one is responding, pray! If no one is listening, pray! Because God is always listening and teaching us as we totally depend on Him for the results.

Prayer Leader ~ How important is the statement of purpose to the direction of the prayer ministry?

"Every member praying, seeking His power, protection and provision, pursuing personal holiness, and following His leadership for Biltmore Baptist Church." Very important. Prayer is not a spiritual gift but a privilege every child has with his Father.

Prayer Leader ~ God's 600 is now God's 1300 ... Please describe this ministry and how it is strategic to the overall ministry of the church.

The God's 1300 Prayer Ministry is a proactive ministry designed to cover the church body, ministries, missionaries and staff in prayer on a regular and consistent basis. People are encouraged to pray in small groups, over the telephone with a prayer partner, as a Point Person praying at home, and in Power Point during the worship services on Sunday morning. A prayer guide is provided to encourage focused prayer in one accord. Everyone praying together for the same purpose cultivates unity and harmony in the body of Christ.

Prayer Leader ~ How vital is prayer among the church's small groups?

The small group encourages accountability among the members, and is also a teaching tool. We learn to pray by praying together. Often prayer leaders come out of prayer groups. However I spend time with every person who wants to start a prayer group. We have a Job Description as we ask our prayer leaders to keep their group on task and focused. It is the prayer leaders’ responsibility to assure the group prays on a regular and consistent basis.

Most of the time I can tell the depth of prayer going on by the actions and attitude of the prayer leader. We are always looking at creative ways to stay in touch with our prayer leaders and encourage them. We have quarterly prayer gatherings and use these as opportunities to encourage and strengthen the leaders. As often as possible our Pastor speaks to them and challenges them.

Prayer Leader ~ Please comment...

>Every church prays but not every church is a praying church...
Our goal is to have every ministry of the church saturated in prayer. As the entire leadership is involved in the Prayer Ministry, prayer saturates the church. The pastor of evangelism is praying for the pastor of worship; the pastor of youth is praying for the pastor of singles, and on and on it goes. Everyone praying for God's agenda for the church.

>A praying church needs a praying pastor ...
The Pastor is God's anointed for leadership of his flock. A praying pastor not only preaches and teaches about prayer but models it before his congregation. The church body recognizes the importance of prayer because it is lived out in the Pastor's life and ministry – it is a priority in his life. Through the years there has been much study and teaching on prayer but not much praying. Effective prayer is praying!
Traditionally we had sporadic prayer meetings if we were going to have a revival or if there was a crisis. Most of the time prayer was included in a service format in the same manner as an announcement or song. And much of the prayer that did take place was through the women’s organizations. When a Pastor and/or pastors give leadership, I believe men will follow. It’s exciting to see as many men praying as women!

>Prayer Coordinator's ought to promote prayer for the pastor ...
One of the main strategies of the enemy is to take the pastor down or out! If he can't take him down, he will discourage him at every opportunity. Spiritual warfare is prevalent and the enemy knows where to aim. I believe it is the Prayer Coordinator's responsibility to assure the Pastor and staff are covered and protected with prayer.

>Prayer during the worship service ...
Prayer during the worship service is acknowledging God's presence and power and seeking His protection and provision. Praying for changed hearts and lives and praying for God's anointing power on the Pastor, worship leaders, choir and congregation.

Prayer Leader ~ Share insights about planning on how to:

>Seek Christ's agenda for the ministry of prayer ...
There are many models of prayer used in prayer ministries. As the Pastor gives leadership to prayer prompts for the church, people may be encouraged to pray corporately or in small groups for God's agenda and leadership. Learning together to pray through the eyes of Jesus and His Kingdom purposes is a discipline. Much of our prayer lives have been spent in praying for the needs of people. In John 17 Jesus prayed for his followers and all who would come after them – this is what we call the church, the body of Christ. If Jesus prayed for the church, can we do less? Our mission is to be salt and light to a dying world and one of the best ways to be that is to pray.
Our leadership seeks God's agenda for their ministry with prayer at staff meetings, prayer at retreats, and prayer for the staff and leadership through our God’s 1300 Prayer Ministry. With prayer groups praying all during the week, people are praying for our Pastor and leadership every day. Sometimes we have used a 24 hour prayer time and invite prayer groups to come for one hour and pray through a need or situation.

>Set goals for the year ...
Goals are important. However, recruitment for the prayer ministry is one by one. Inviting, recruiting people to join you in prayer; growing prayer groups; providing prayer opportunities and events. Always keeping prayer as a main focus.

>Integrate prayer among the other ministries of the church ...
As mentioned before, when the leadership of the church is involved in the Prayer Ministry all ministries are covered in prayer. And prayer is given a priority in the ministry. Every ministry is based and founded on prayer.

>Serve the pastor and his vision ...
God gives the Pastor the vision and then holds him accountable. Our responsibility as the body is to encourage and support the Pastor through prayer. How awesome it is to see God work and do great things with ordinary people.

Prayer Leader ~ One last question ... What encouragement can you give to an equally passionate prayer coordinator who is serving in a small, under-resourced, maybe even under-interested, congregation?

Prayer begins with one person. Begin praying first of all for your Pastor and his family. Pray for unity and harmony in the church body. Recruit 2-3 people to pray with you on a regular basis. Then determine the goals and objectives of the church and begin praying in that direction. Seek God's will on ministry areas and the people He wants you to reach. Focus on Kingdom prayer – the salvation of lost family members, etc. One question that is helpful is: if Jesus were standing in this place, what would He be praying for?

Prayer Leader ~ Carolyn, please write a prayer for your prayer leader colleagues...
Father, we give You praise for Your majesty and Your grace. You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Forgive us for the times we have been disobedient and have disappointed you; thank You for Your forgiveness. By Your amazing power we ask that You strengthen the hearts and minds of your children as we seek to serve You. Encourage our hearts Father that we may experience You in all Your fullness and serve You better. May we acknowledge You in everything we do – all to Your glory alone. Help us to rest in the sufficiency of Your strength, understanding that through You everything can be accomplished. Help us not to become weary or discouraged in well doing, and the busyness of our responsibilities, but to always depend and rely on Your faithfulness. We pray that in 2007 we may all pursue personal holiness and have a hunger and thirst for righteousness as we seek Your face. And now we thank You Father for what You are going to accomplish in the days ahead. Help all who come behind us to find us faithful and may You be glorified in our lives. All to the glory of Jesus we pray, Amen.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Inner~Views: Encouraging Your Pastor

Prayer Leader interviewed Bill Allison of Cadre Ministries

PL ~ Bill, your website states "While Cadre Ministries will bring training to any size church, its special concern is the church with one pastor (and many volunteer leaders)." Why this particular emphasis?

Larger churches have an inequitable voice in America because in America bigger means successful. You can question that all you want, but that's the way it is. While we don't have an ax to grind with bigger churches simply because they are larger, we want to champion what God is doing in the regular church. (I refuse to say "smaller" church--because it implies inferiority in our culture--and I don't believe they inferior at all.) Since our ministry focuses on helping churches train volunteers to do ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12), we LOVE the regular church because they already know that the key to effective ministry is training volunteers! Larger churches can hire staff. Good for them. But we honestly believe volunteers can do MINISTRY--real ministry--lead people to Christ and disciple them--often better than a pastor can--especially when they are TRAINED!

PL ~ How was this a motivation to write "7 Biblical Ways God Wants YOU to Encourage Your Pastor"?===>Click headline to access booklet . . .

We LOVE pastors! And quite frankly, we're sick and tired of seeing our best friends and colleagues get chewed up and spit out. This doesn't happen at every church--but it does at many. The problem is compounded because if a pastor talks about encouraging pastors--it can be seen as self serving. So we said, "Hey--as stateside missionaries--we're in a great place to bring up the biblical idea about encouraging pastors. So we purposely set up to address what the Bible says about the subject... and let it lead us to address the sticky issues of money, gossip, etc.

PL ~ The first challenge is to pray for your pastor ~ Why is this presented first?

Paul tells is that "first of all" we should pray for our leaders--and that includes our spiritual leaders. And, to be honest, we don't believe that in the average church there is much prayer happening--let alone prayer for pastors. We've got lots of programs--and we like purposeful programs--but prayer is often missing or extremely weak.

PL ~ Explain the purpose of "My Covenant with God, One Another and Our Pastor."

It's one thing to read about encouraging pastors. That's education and information. But I don't believe that education and information is enough to produce life-change. So we put the covenant in the booklet to challenge people to sign on the dotted line and seal the deal about being an encouragement to pastors. In one church, the elders of the church signed the covenant--then gave the folks in the congregation a chance to participate--and then hung the signed covenant in the foyer as a reminder... and accountability to each other--to be an encouragement to their pastor.

PL ~ How can a prayer leader mobilize others to pray for the pastor?

We need to regularly remember that pastors are PEOPLE... like you and me. If that doesn't get you praying--you think too much of yourself! We address the human side of pastoring in our booklet. But I think so many of us just don't get it--and some pastors foster this super saint facade--so we are totally shocked when we find out that our pastor is just like us. Remembering that our pastor is human can help us a ton when it comes to praying for him.

PL ~ Some pastors are very private and will not seem to welcome the support of members - What can a church member do at that point?

Pray. And I think the bigger issue there is that pastors have been conditioned--by past bad experiences--not to open their hearts to church people. I can't blame them. But I think all of us--especially leaders--are looking for a safe place to take our journey with Jesus. I would encourage you to be a safe person for your pastor--and not to give up if there is no reciprocation. It will take time to earn a pastor's trust. It may not be possible in some cases. But pray--and love them like crazy--whether or not they outwardly express appreciation for your encouragement.

PL ~ Bill, lease write a prayer that concerned Christians can pray for their pastor . . .

God, Help us to love our pastor with extremely practical expressions of encouragement. Use ME to show the way. Help us to err on the over generous side--with our words, finances, time, talents, and gifts. Give us a spirit of courage to keep others accountable to the biblical commands to encourage our pastor. Rebuke our hearts when we sin against our pastor by gossip--and give us repentant hearts. Prompt us every time we drive into the church parking lot to breathe a quick prayer for our pastor. Do whatever it takes to make our pastor flourish in his relationship with you, his spouse, his family, our church, and our community.
in Jesus' name... amen

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