A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog, How to Help Your Church. It was one of the most popular posts of this year so far, perhaps because it struck a chord with pastors and church leaders working hard to serve God's people. Interestingly, I wrote a similar post a few years ago.
However, it occurred to me that neither of those posts mentioned perhaps the best way to help your church: prayer. Perhaps this speaks to my woefully inconsistent prayer life or the tendency among leaders in my generation to rely on our own strength to do God's work.
But I'm realizing ever more the need, my need, for God's help in serving the church. I'm realizing the need for us to fall on our faces before the Lord. Only God can grow the church. So, as you consider how to make your church better, here are five ways to help your church:
1) Pray for your pastor. I know this is cliche. I know people pray for me. But I really, really need prayer. And your pastor does too. He may not ask you for it. He may seem strong and courageous and "with it" all the time. But underneath that is a fragile, desperate soul often squeezed by the pressures of serving God's people. So pray for faithfulness, refreshment, wisdom, creativity, humility, people skills. I never fully realized the need to pray for pastors until I actually became one.
2) Pray for the pastor's wife. This is a tough role. There is really no template for the pastor's wife. She's thrust into a role that often asks more of her than she can handle. She's the one keeping the home life somewhat normal and consistent. She's the one holding things together when the pastor is at the bedside or meeting with someone in crisis. And sometimes the pastor's family has their own crises that need prayer. Pray for your pastor's wife.
3) Pray for God's spirit to move in the hearts of people in the community. In our community, something like 85% of people are unchurched, likely unconverted. That's a huge mission field. And it seems that with every passing day the church is becoming less of a factor in people's lives. Pray that your church would be a lighthouse, a place where people discover the eternal truths of the gospel, where the Word would shine and the Spirit would convict hearts to repentance. Sometimes we get so program-oriented that we forget to pray for a mighty moving of the Spirit.
4) Pray for unity among God's people. The devil loves to divide and conquer. He loves to sow seeds of strife in a church. He loves to prey on the natural, human, sinful tendencies of God's good people. Unity has to be intentional. It's not natural. It must be a spirit-connected thing. It's fragile. And here's a secret. If you are praying for church unity, you will be spending less time focusing on the hurts and faults of others that moves to destroy that unity.
5) Pray for the church staff and leadership. Don't just pray for the pastor, as if he's the only one who is on the front lines, as if he's the only important, exalted member serving your local body. He isn't. Pray also and earnestly for the paid and volunteer staff, for the leadership team -- elders, deacons, team leaders. Pray for their families, their spirituality, their faithfulness. Pray for God to enrich and refresh them and give them strength for His work.