A Church Prayer Plan

I decided to apply something I was preaching on. I know…novel idea, right?

I was preaching from 1 Chronicles 13-16. This is a text about King David bringing the ark of God back to Jerusalem. The ark has been captured by the Philistines, been brought back into the land of Israel, and then basically ignored for the last 20 years throughout the reign of King Saul. There are two verses that really stuck out to me. Chapter 13: 4 says, “the whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to the people.” In chapter 15: 13 we read, “It was because you, the Levities, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.”

The people all agree that bringing up the ark is a great idea, but they don’t do it in the prescribed way and Uzzah dies. When the try again and have the Levities carry it in the proper manner, everything goes well.

The difference is what happens is that this time they have “inquired of the Lord”.

Our Elders Board is meeting in 3 weeks to evaluate and prayerful dream about what we should do as a church. I felt that God was reminding me, “this is what you need to do with your church. You need to inquire of the Lord together and not just rely on your human wisdom.” Probably good advice.


So I called our church to three weeks of prayer and fasting as we inquire of the Lord regarding our direction and our future. I am asking the congregation to fast and pray for the next three Thursday lunches. Those who are able are invited to join me at the church as we fast and pray. Others are encouraged to stop and pray during their workday. On the final Thursday we will also meet for a prayer night. I’m trying to communicate a few prayer suggestions and hear from the congregation as well.

I don’t know if you have been hesitant to try an ongoing prayer emphasis, but I would encourage you to try it. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or challenging, but there is something right about inviting the church into an extended time of corporate prayer.

May we grow closer to God as we pray!

An “I’ve Been Everywhere…” Day

Rural ministry often overlaps to surrounding communities. This was one of those days. It made me think of that old song, “I’v been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere”.

Saturday begin with me being at the Church Office in Carseland before 7 am so I could do some last minute bits of work for the weekend. By 8:30 I was in Strathmore for a breakfastCarseland area map meeting. A little before 10:00 I was on the road to Calgary to do a hospital visitation. Luckily the person was in a hospital on my side of the city. At about 11:10 I left the hospital to head back to Carseland so I could get dressed for a wedding. I got home about 12:15. I tried to sit down for a 15 minute rest, then got dressed and headed out the door to do a wedding just south of Champion on the bride’s farm. The backyard wedding ceremony went great, followed by the receiving line and then we left in between the ceremony and the reception to drive another 45 minutes south to see my Mom and Dad in Lethbridge. We had exactly an hour with them before we had to leave to head back to the wedding reception at the Champion Hall. We enjoyed a great dinner and some speeches and left around 9:30. We got home just after 10:30. What a day!

And it’s interesting the variety of ministry I did that day. The office work first thing was finalizing the wedding as well as the sermon for the next day. Breakfast was with a man who is a member of our church but hasn’t been attending for more than a year due to some family breakup and disappointment with God issues. The hospital visit was with a man whose family is newer to church and who haven’t really connected with the church yet. He’s suffering with diabetes and other complications. And the wedding was a couple from our church. This was actually the only wedding – out of the 5 I’m doing this summer – where the couple were both church attending Christians.

Rural ministry in a small church is never boring. While not every day is like this Saturday, every week has all kinds of variety in meetings I have, people I see, “pastoral” duties I get to perform, and services I prepare for.

I love the variety. Do you enjoy it too?

You Can Party at Business Meetings Too

I have the privilege of being the President of our Carseland & District Agricultural Society & Community Association. Carseland has no town council but is under the county. Our community association functions a little like our town council. We also look after our ball diamonds, recreatioinal centre where our curling happens, and the community hall. Along with that we plan a few big events throughout the year.

Most of our meetings are busy with pointing out all the things that still need to be done. Because there is always so much more to do, it seems like we never get anything done. Maybe like some of our church meetings too. We are so focused on things that are not happening that we forget what we have accomplished.

This past week I decided to go back to our Ag Society Board retreat we had in October and see if we had accomplished anything. I came up with a list of at least 20 things that we had actually completed. I read the list, said “DONE”, and then asked everyone to cheer after each item that was accomplished was read. As they were cheering for each item, I had the two vice presidents throw out candy each time as well. I even arranged for coffee and donuts. I just wanted to celebrate a bit before we got to our next business.

It went really well. There were a few agenda items of the evening that caused some board members to get a little hot, but it seemed that the fun at the beginning helped to temper that a little. I even received a few compliments from people, even some by email, as people appreciated being made aware of what we had actually accomplished.

I think I have to try this more at my Elders Board meetings as well.

It’s okay to party and celebrate!

Annual Meeting Fear?

Some pastors fear their Congregational Annual Meeting! Others are bored by them.

I look forward to Annual Meetings, but I also run them differently than I have seen them run in some churches when I was younger. The church I grew up in had Congregational Meetings that seemed to micro-manage many decisions in the church with everybody voting on just about anything and everything. Later on I sat in on Annual Meetings that became debates about every point on the Budget.

Here’s why I like Annual Meetings. I see them as planning meetings or even strategy meetings to a certain extent. It’s like I get to be the Coach and I’m calling an “all-player” meeting. If that sounds boring, try to set them up like a pep-rally! This is an opportunity to Celebrate what God has done and to lay out a vision of where we are going.Yes, we need to have reports but we don’t necessarily go through each one. People need to read those ahead of time. We only deal with Action that needs to come from those reports. We need to take time to have the necessary elections. And then we make sure we take time to share some details of the vision for the next year.

Our Church’s Annual Meeting will happen this Sunday afternoon following a potluck lunch. One of the items I always include after the “business” is done is to Dream about our future. During this time I will summarize some of what the Elders Board worked through at a recent Strategy Planning Retreat. And I will have opportunity as the Pastor to lay out some of what I envision in the year to come. For me, that is exciting – even fun!

One challenge is to make sure you don’t move through the meeting too slowly or last too long. That will kill any enthusiasm!

I would encourage you, see your Annual Meeting, not just as a necessary duty but as a great opportunity too get your congregation excited and informed about where you believe God is leading you!

Lose your Annual Meeting fear and look forward to it with enthusiasm!