I have a friend named Marc and he’s near the top of my list of heroes. Here’s why: He carries two extremely demanding assignments. I know how demanding they are because I’ve done both, but he is doing both at the same time. First, he is administrative head over nearly 150 local congregations in a large region in North America, and second, he is on the pastoral staff of a large church.
I don’t know how he can carry both roles, but I’m sure if you’d ask him he would tell you that it’s only because God is faithful to fulfill His promise, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally…”
Pastor Marc became convinced that a high percentage of the members of his church were content to be passengers on the journey. Just to show up at church once or twice each week gave them a sense of satisfaction. But Marc was certain that church is not a spectator sport, that God wants the book of Acts to continue to be written. So he challenged his congregation: Ask the Lord to lay the names of five friends on your heart, then pray earnestly for them every day. Earnestly.
When you sense the time is right, begin to reach out to them in whatever way God shows you is appropriate. Invite them to church. To prayer meeting. To a special event. A hike. A ball game. A concert. To help tidy up a widow lady’s yard. Ask them to serve on your Greeter Team, in the music ministry, take them on a hospital visit. As you feel led, be a bit brash about the favors you ask. Find their comfort zone and show them how valuable it is to the kingdom. All the time pleading passionately that God will wrap His strong arms around them and help them understand how deeply they are loved.
As Pastor Marc laid out his vision, the congregation caught it. Within a few weeks new guests began to show up, usually in the company of a church member. When you bring a guest to church it changes how you feel about what happens there. It encourages you to pray for the pastor – that what is said will be anointed. To pray for the music – that it will be a ministry and not simply talents on display. To pray for the welcomers – that there will be a sense of genuine warmth. This is where prayer-saturated churches are born.
Not long after that launch, the church celebrated a baptismal service. Five precious members were added to the family of God. Not quite Pentecost, but it was a beginning, and as the candidates were introduced it was discovered that every one of the five was on someone’s list to be prayed for. Please stay tuned; the story has just begun. How about where you worship?
By Don Jacobsen