This past Sunday night was our monthly Family Conference (a.k.a., business meeting). Since we’re now doing Connect Groups in various homes on Sunday, our Family Conferences have taken on a different flavor (at least, that’s the idea for which we are striving). They seek to not only be a time of exhortation from the Word, but a time of prayer over a specific issue related to that exhortation.
This past Sunday, I shared from 2 Timothy 2:1-2.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
This serves as a great definition of discipleship. Healthy churches and healthy Christians make disciples. Unhealthy churches are more interested in maintain programs than making disciples. Churches tend to gravitate toward formulas and programs because they are more easily managed. People and relationships are often messy. With programs, you can attend the event and that’s it, and you can walk away from that event feeling good at having attended said event.
But investing in people? Discipling new believers or not-so-new believers? That’s difficult! You know them better, and they know you better–and you both get to know Jesus and His holiness better, and you know your sinfulness more acutely. That’s what makes it difficult. Christianity no longer becomes a set of tasks to accomplish and events to attend, but it becomes a lifestyle of pouring into others, and others pouring into you.
In light of this, I asked my church to pray for three things that evening:
- Pray that God would open up His avenue of pouring into our community. Our church can’t do everything, but we can do something for the Kingdom. Individual believers in our church can pour individually into various ministries, but we need to see where God would have us pour into in our community. And He will make it clear!
- Pray that God would have you forgive a past pastor that has hurt you. Sadly, many churches are reactionary. When pastors hurt their churches (either through splits or being more ‘warrior pastors’ rather than ‘shepherd pastors’), an anger and animosity develops in the hearts of people that spills over into successive pastors that come along–especially if successive pastors do or suggest something that reminds them of that past pastor. We are then held prisoner by our unforgiveness, and then hold our churches prisoner by not being able to move forward as Great Commission people.
- Pray that God would give you someone to pour into. Healthy churches make disciples. Healthy disciples reproduce healthy disciples. Who can we pour into? Just getting together with them to talk about the sermon, to talk about a study, to go over a passage of Scripture (the Sermon on the Mount is a great place to start), we see the value of sharpening each other.
What are some things for which you ask your church to pray?