I know full well that I just used two, sometimes scary, words in that title.
The word “persuade” means that I’m going to be talking about leadership, and leadership is challenging for many of us pastors.
The word “pray” zeros in on one of the hardest aspects of the Christian life for many believers. The only thing more difficult than prayer for most of us is the “e-word,” evangelism.
Thom Rainer, in his great little book, Anatomy Of A Revived Church, insists that:
“I have yet to see a sustained church revitalization that was not undergirded by a powerful movement of prayer…It is categorical. It is imperative. It is a priority.”
Because I’m sure that this is true, I’m going to give you a simple list of ways to improve the revitalization prayers of your church.
First let’s do a quick re-set:
Three weeks ago, I began sharing a revitalization playbook. I’m not writing a step-by-step manual for church renewal, for I don’t believe that creating a universally applicable revitalization plan is possible.
But it is going to be a playbook, like that of a football team which has a couple dozen plays it has practiced extensively.
And I do believe that the first three plays can be scripted. First, you must start with helping your people to face the true condition of their church. Second, you must help your congregation to take responsibility for the condition of their church. Third, revitalization pastors (or leadership teams) must lead their people to begin praying for revitalization.
After this third, scripted play, the revitalization leader’s job is to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in choosing further strategic moves which God can and will use in the revitalization of his church.
Now let’s get back to our subject of persuading your congregation to pray for revitalization:
(1) Don’t use the word “revitalization.” I’ve just used it several times in this post and I’m about to use it several more times. But you’re better off in your church if you ask people to pray that your church:
- Develops a growing love for God, for God’s people and for lost people
- Becomes increasingly jealous for God’s glory and zealous for the salvation of sinners
- Becomes a church of real spiritual worshipers
- Gets good at finding ways to connect with non-Christian people
- Enjoys Christian lives in which we are led by the Spirit of God to share the Good News with lost people
- Reaches the specific individuals whom God has brought into our lives to introduce to Him
- Experiences the powerful blessing of God on its sermons, lessons, worship, classes, groups and other ministries
I think you get my point: you and I know what “church revitalization” looks like while most church members do not. But they will understand if you use language something like that which I’ve used above.
(2) Talk about revitalization prayer in sermons. The Acts of the Apostles, the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, and the letters of Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three, are great passages from which to teach about revitalization prayer.
(3) Pray clearly and passionately about revitalization needs/issues in your “pulpit prayers.” Pastors who lead their churches in serious prayer have a wonderful opportunity to model the kind of requests which we should – as God’s children – be making. Use language that is appropriate for your congregation, not necessarily the vocabulary that I used above, but by all means, ask your people to join you in praying these great, kingdom-focused, “inner man” (as opposed to “outer man” – see Ephesians 3:16) requests.
(4) Talk about prayer for revitalization needs and issues in personal conversations. “Drip” these burdens of yours into as many conversations as you can.
(5) Get revitalization prayer requests unto your prayer chains. Most prayer chains are used almost exclusively for physical needs, such as illnesses. But there’s no rule (at least I hope there isn’t!) that says that the pastor or others can’t initiate prayer chain requests for the best things: the revitalization requests listed above.
(6) Get revitalization prayer requests unto written prayer lists and into prayer meetings and other small group prayer times. Again, being asked to pray for the best things – the actual spiritual mission of the church – might come as a shock to some, but they can get used to it over time.
(7) Get your prayer warriors praying revitalization prayers. Your church may only have one dedicated, impassioned prayer warrior. If so, instead of giving up in despair, try to get that one wonderful brother or sister praying about the revitalization of the church. In most cases, a real prayer warrior will understand what you’re asking and will embrace these requests.
(8) Have people share their revitalization prayer stories/testimonies as early and as often as possible.
(9) Don’t give up on these efforts! You will be tempted to do so. You must be tenacious in your leadership but God will use your passion to change your church.