Church renewal specialist George Bullard posted a blog the other day about a first step your congregation can take when you seem to be too inwardly focused to have many redemptive relationships with those outside the church who need to hear about the Lord Jesus – click here to read the article by George Bullard.
The first step Bullard advocates is to change the prayer focus of the congregation. This can also be a good first step that your church can take as you prepare to introduce Christianity Explored. As Bullard notes, “prayer is generally a non-threatening initial step in which 100 percent of the people in a congregation can participate.”
Here are some excerpts from Bullard’s blog post.
While it might be an overstatement, it is probably not too far from reality that what congregations pray for they focus on… If they pray primarily for pastoral care needs, they create a pastoral care-oriented congregation. They may even become well known for their care and compassion for people. This can be a great reputation to possess. It may also increase the overly churched culture of the congregation, rather than opening it up to the non-churched culture.
When congregations fail to pray for preChristians, unchurched, underchurched, and dechurched persons—especially by name and circumstances—they may be committing a sin of omission. This is not good. It is easily correctable with some simple intentional action. A refocusing of prayer can over time create a new attitude, aptitude, and alignment of their prayer focus.
What if congregations added to their pastoral care praying an intentional focus on praying for specific people by name who are preChristian, unchurched, underchurched, and dechurched. What would this impact?
What would happen if a congregation began praying earnestly that they would be sensitive to the opportunities God opens up for them to speak words of love and to develop relationships with preChristian, unchurched, underchurched, and dechurched persons? What would happen if a congregation developed support and accountability for people who feel led to proactively develop social and spiritual relationships with people outside the congregation and outside the Christian faith?
Not confrontational evangelism that is focused more on success than the person. Not trying to see how many people can be “saved” so evangelistic numbers will be high. Just a genuine unconditional love for people that emanates out of an authentic discipleship on the part of people caught up in an overly churched culture.
Think about it. How could this happen in your congregation? What difference would it make in your congregational focus if it became a significant emphasis? Who are the people you should bring together to start this prayer focus? Perhaps your first action should be to pray about God’s leadership for this emphasis.
Please comment below if your congregation has ever sought to change your prayer focus along the lines that Bullard advocates. Please tell us about what you have learned.