A Pattern to Help Develop a Prayer Strategy
While any church can see an improvement in its prayer foundation by simply tweaking existing ministry to include more prayer, the church that wants to see steady improvement will learn it needs to develop a strategy to grow prayer.
When I help churches develop prayer strategies there are five steps I encourage them to follow.
1. Broaden the prayer team to help strategize. If everyone on your team is a seasoned intercessor, their strategies are going to be different than those of a ministry leader. You need to have people who can honestly see whether something will work or not. If all you have are people passionate about prayer, you may not end up with a workable strategy. Try to get a cross section of people—leaders and average attenders—who understand the importance of prayer, but who don’t necessarily live and breathe it.
2. Pray about prayer. For the first meeting or two or three, I would do very little else than pray together. Seek God for His direction and strategy. It would be great if some would add fasting to this as well. Perhaps set aside a day where the team agrees to fast and pray.
3. Pass out resources. Before any brainstorming begins, let team members read valuable resources that can put a picture of a praying church in their minds. These books can also give them thoughts as to what might work given your church’s culture. Such books as The Prayer Saturated Church, (NavPress) and My House Shall Be a House of Prayer (Pray! Books) as excellent tools to have them study.
4. Brainstorm ideas. Have a meeting where team members share what they are sensing. Talk about the different ideas the resources had. What might work in your church; what might be difficult?
5. Refine the strategy. Begin putting down on paper—mapping out—where you want to go. Make a three- to five-year plan that includes what you would like to launch when, sets goals for involvement of church members, etc.
As you strategize, you also want to develop a plan in two parallel streams:
A. Implementation. What are we going to do. What prayer ministries/opportunities will we start first, etc. What prayer events will we offer, when.
B. Motivation. How are we going to get people to participate. What keeps people from getting involved in prayer? How do we overcome those barriers. Plan ways to motivate your people.
Many churches develop excellent strategic plans, but fail at this second point. They never figure out how they will encourage people to join into the prayer life of the church.
--Jonathan Graf is the president of the Church Prayer Leaders Network. Jon is available to teach or consult with leadership in your church. Contact him at email@example.com. A much more in depth treatment of this topic is in Jon's newest book, Restored Power: Becoming a Praying Church One Tweak at a Time.