"3 Truths Churches Struggle to Accept." He offers some sound advice to be sure. What I found somewhat disconcerting was a comment he made under point 1, "It's OK to Say "NO." He revealed an effete Wednesday prayer meeting running simultaneously with an undermanned AWANA program. He writes:
Now, I wrote to Trevor asking him to clarify if his comments included disbanding Prayer meeting altogether? That was two days ago. I hope still to hear from him. At this point, and unless otherwise corrected, here is my assessment.The first church I was on staff with had a difficult time saying no. This was especially true when it came to the Wednesday night prayer meeting. By the time I began my internship at the church, there was only a small group still attending the prayer meetings, and the average age was well over 65.
Even as a young, inexperienced intern I knew the reason the prayer meeting was still going on was that no one had the leadership clarity and ability to say no. This small band of people had such great potential to be engaged in more meaningful ways. AWANA also met on Wednesday night, and its leaders were always in need of more volunteers. With a greater clarity of vision for these kids, I believe those prayer meeting folks could have been utilized to a much greater degree and at the same time been re-instilled with a feeling of value and purpose in their service to the church.
I wanted to quote Trevor, because of what we did as a church when our Wednesday prayer meeting fell off. You see, he's not completely wrong. Sometimes we hang on to programs to the detriment of what they were intended to produce, in this case EFFECTUAL PRAYER. I love this quote, "When the horse you're riding dies, dismount!" But let's be sure that the horse is NOT prayer itself! The Church can no more forget prayer than humans can forget to breathe! But that seems what many many churches are doing! It's nothing less than self-inflicted suffocation. It's like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
What dawned on me (Spirit) as we changed our day for prayer was that prayer is NOT a program of the church. If it were, then people could opt out of it like they do any other program that doesn't fit into their gift-mix, or service preference. But prayer is the life of the church and cannot be dismissed like a program. I began to teach the flock this way, and that along with, of course, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, has produced a growing number coming out and praying together for about an hour! Yes, we meet for 90 minutes, the last hour of which is prayer. We have a good secretary who publishes a Family Prayer Sheet each week with the latest updates from our missionaries from whom she receives regular emails to keep us current. It's a wonderful time of prayer. But we as leaders see this as a priority. Incidentally, one of our reasons from moving from Wednesday to Sunday was to allow our Elders to attend more regularly. They simply could not "swing" Wednesdays (as with others). It's not just that they should "be at prayer meeting to be a good example. THEY wanted to pray with the Body of Christ! This provided that forum.
This has been a blessed time. We pray that more (who are able) will come, not out of some legalistic constraint, but from heart motives. One thing we do know, WE MUST PRAY. Period! And God will add unto His church, for indeed, Jesus said, "I will build my church." And part of His building is to put it within the hearts of his people to complete his command to be always at prayer.