Confession time, in the early days of Pillar Church I was doing everything I knew to do to grow the church because… I thought that was my job. We ran TV commercials, 10,000 piece mailers, nice equipment, friendly environment, good coffee and on and on… but I was not spending much time praying for God to move. I was not praying personally and I was not leading the church to pray.
Core group meetings would open with a quick prayer and then I would spend the hour talking about the plan’s I’d been working on all week. It wasn’t working. Our church wasn’t growing very much and I was becoming quickly discouraged. One particular Sunday a family in our community, the Catalano’s, visited our small worship service. They were 20 years older than everyone else. They sat in the back and honestly didn’t look very interested. When the service was over we gathered around a young couple that was moving away to pray for them. Before the prayer started I looked around the room for the right person to lead the prayer, no one came to mind. In a last minute decision (and not something I’d advise) I turned to the visitor, Mr. Catalano, and said, “Sir, I don’t know you but would you mind praying for this couple?” He with a look of surprise, he prayed for the young couple as if he had known them for a lifetime. Later, Mr. Catalano told me that that morning before the service was over he had asked the Lord to confirm or deny that he and his wife were supposed to become involved at our church, He prayed, “Lord, if you want us to attend here please have the pastor call on me to pray.”
Within a few months of becoming members Mr. & Mrs. Catalano started inviting families over to there home for prayer. They would cook a big meal and then spend hours in prayer those far from God in our community. Now eight years later that meeting is single most significant gathering we have as a church. God has answered our prayers over and over again. In our church there is a growing confidence in the connection between prayer and progress. God used Mr. & Mrs. Catalano to lead our church to pray when I only talked about doing so. Those prayer meetings have resulted in tremendous love and faith in the life of our congregation. So, lead your church to pray. Remember that your actions will speak louder than your words. If you spend a bunch of time in prayer and leading others to pray, the people in your core group will think, “Our pastor thinks that prayer is the thing that’s going to make this thing fly”, if you say that prayer is important but only pray to open and close meetings it’s unlikely that people will be very convinced that prayer is important. It would be wise for you to establish a regular prayer meeting for your church from the very earliest stages. Even if your church is still only a concept, decide to meet weekly with those who are dreaming with you and pray for the work God might want to do through you. Jesus said that his house should be called a house of prayer, so if you are going to plant a church for Jesus you should make sure that it could be described the same way.