Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Church Planting #1: pray, pray, pray

I would like to begin a series on church planting. I would like to focus on what I would do, and the theology behind it. I have never attempted to do something like this, but as I have been thinking, studying, and reading about church planting, I have come up with some ideas on how I would like to do it. Thus I would like to offer the following steps on I would take in planting a church.

1.) Pray, Pray, Pray
2.) Spend time building a relationship with a community
3.) Develop a core of people
4.) Not focus on growth, but mission
5.) Place a premium on creativity
6.) Continually push the envelope
7.) Constantly return to center

I would like to over the next few Tuesdays write on these seven steps. So here is my first offering: Pray, Pray, Pray

I have struggled with pray throughout my life. It seems to be a very vague and confusing concept. I have grown up with prayer and I think its safe to say that I have prayed nearly every day of my life. Yet with that said, for the vast part of my life, prayer has not been central to my existence. I’m sure that I’m not alone in this.

I think we often give lip service to prayer. I went on a missions trip in the summer of 2000 to Brazil. Like any other missions trip to another country, it cost quite a bit of money; something like $2,500. I did not have that kind of money, nor did my parents so I sent out ‘prayer letters.’ Perhaps you’ve done something like this. You send a letter asking people to do two things: pray and or send money to help pay for your trip. I put quotes on prayer letters, because I was more concerned with getting the money than the prayer. Let’s be honest, I sent that letter out not because I wanted people to pray, but because I wanted their money; it was just more spiritual to add the prayer piece in. I’m just being honest here.

I hold the belief that as a church we need to pray. Why? Because prayer is calling for God to change our eyes to see reality. Too often our prayers are, "God, I don’t want to go through this hard thing!” or “God I need that thing…” We ask these things as if we forget that God is in control and that He wants good for us. The problem is, like children, we often want things that are not good for us. This is why Jesus begins his prayer in Matthew 5, your kingdom come, your will be done. His prayer is focused on a change in heart.

It is when our hearts are changed, when we can see God’s kingdom that we begin to spread the kingdom. It is then that God begins to spread his kingdom. Bono, had a great quote at the President’s Prayer Conference a few years ago. He said, “Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing—because it’s already blessed.” This is the heart of prayer.

Prayer will move the church planter to place themselves in the middle of what God is doing. Prayer will position the planter in God’s plans, and that’s the best place we can be. It is here that God wants to work, and it is here that God does work. As a planter, where else would we want to be? We do not want to be here merely because we want to be successful, but because it is here that we are where we should be.

So the first step when planting is prayer.