Ed Stetzer has a very informative guest post up by John Thomas about his reflections on a failed church plant experience. In the post he lists 5 things where he basically confesses that he got it wrong. The first item on the list hit me square between the eyes as I read it: Prayerlessness. Here’s what he says on prayerlessness:
I failed to pray as I ought. Self-reliance and fierce independence marked the day. Strategy and proven methods were my fail-safe, not sweet communion with the One who held the answers to my unasked questions, let alone the immediate needs of the day. Bootstrap theology and iron-will methodology only carried me as far as my boots (metaphorically speaking) and wherewithal would take me. And that was not far enough. I was, after all, wrestling with the eternal and weighty matters of gathering the bride of Christ.
The lesson I learned: Prayer as the foundation for church planting is not just a spiritual slogan. It is a necessity and must be part of the planter’s DNA long before it becomes a core value for the church.
I just spent last weekend at a great church plant up in Durban teaching on the subject of prayer and it feels like God is just ramming this into me at the moment: If you’re not going to pray your socks off then don’t plant a church!
The more I think about it the more I am astonished by the amount of arrogance, self-reliance and foolishness that is exhibited when I fail to pray and fail to encourage others to regularly pray about our up coming church plant. God is the ultimate worker, I am not. He must be the first and supreme port of call in all endeavors that bear his name. John Thomas is right, “prayer as foundation” in your ministry needs to be way more than a slogan, it really and honestly needs to be the bedrock of everything you do. There’s a very real sense in which the best thing I can do for this church plant, the best thing I can offer, the best work I can embark upon, is to develop my spiritual vitality with God. To do that is better than all my learning, all my strategy, all my fundraising, all my vision-casting. I desperately need ever-increasing intimacy with Jesus, and the people I will soon minister to need me to have ever-increasing intimacy with Jesus.