The Bible says without vision, the people perish. I would say without focus the vision perishes. It is not enough today for leaders to have vision. Anyone can have vision. However, without focus in living out that vision, vision remains only a dream.
The true test for church, business, and organizational leaders is the ability to follow through with the vision that has been named. Even when faced with “back to Egypt” committees, financial stress, and their own questions, leaders must remain focused. It is too easy to say “this is not working” and give up on the vision and then try to find a new vision. The problem is before you know it there are multiple competing visions or no clear vision at all because the vision changes so much due to lack of focus. Vision without prayer, plans, mentors and actionable initiatives is destined to remain a dream and those who hold such visions dreamers.
In the end it is the power of focus that turns vision into reality. This is perhaps the hardest of all things for entrepreneurial pastors and leaders who are often ready to “fire, aim, aim” because their personality make up causes them to bounce from thing to thing. The key to effective transformative vision is focus. We who lead are smart to get some focus.
I first learned about the idea of prayer walking while being trained to begin a new church. Prayer walking is the simple act of a group of people meeting at an arranged time to walk the streets of their community to pray for the needs of people in the community, to pray for the Gospel to take root in that community, and to pray for ground to be softened.
In no particular order, here are five good reasons to conduct a prayer walk. There are undoubtedly more.
- Conducting a prayer walk acknowledges that no matter how great our worship, no matter how clever our programs, no matter how well designed our strategies, Jesus Christ is the one who transforms a community and grows his church. Matthew 16:18 Whether one is beginning a new church or seeking to revitalize an existing church the power of renewal and revival flows from the head of the church, Jesus Christ. Apart from him we can do nothing. John 15:5 When we walk our communities in prayer we admit that our work is ultimately Christ’s work.
- Conducting a prayer walk raises awareness for people in your church. As people come to pray for the prayer walk they see neighborhoods they may have never seen before. They see homes up front and personal. They realize how many people actually live in the community. I always would point out that if we just reached 1% of the community that would be huge. I would also point out if all these people came to church on one Sunday there would no be enough seats to hold them in all of the churches in the community- we are not in competition with other churches.
- A prayer walk can function as a witness to the community. As persons walk they may be asked by someone in the neighborhood “What are you all doing?” and those prayer walking can say they are praying for the community and might even ask if they have any prayer needs. While it has never happened during a prayer walk I have been involved, I have heard of the police being called because of the weird people walking around the neighborhood mumbling to themselves. I think that is great and I hope when the police came they offered to pray for the officer.
- A prayer walk pleases God. I think any time you ask God’s intervention in a matter instead of asking God’s blessing after the fact you please God.
- A prayer walk softens the ground. As the church seeks to reach people for Christ and transform communities it faces both natural and supernatural forces working against her. Prayer walking softens the ground for the seed of the Gospel to be planted and come to harvest. After coming down the mountain after the Transfiguration and having to deal with a boy with a demon that his followers could not cast out, Jesus said this kind can only be cast out with prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21 Some communities are so hard and have such strongholds that they can only be reached and transformed with much prayer and fasting.
Are there other reasons you can think of for conducting a prayer walk?
Many churches publish written materials to keep their members and guests informed about different events, opportunities to be in a small group, or opportunities to serve. This might be in a bulletin, in a bulletin insert, in a newsletter or even an electronic HTML newsletter. Often times, there is a person’s name associated with the event, class or service opportunity.
Too many times though I have seen churches put these persons’ names in the bulletin and say something like “For more information contact Sally Smith.” And, that is it. No phone number. No email address. No nothing, except a name. I am quite sure this communication miscue is done without thinking. The assumption on the part of people who print such announcements is that everyone knows Sally Smith of course. However, there are people in the church, both guests and those who may have only been coming to the church for a short time who do not know Sally Smith from Smith Wigglesworth. In a medium to large sized church this is even more true as everybody does not know everybody as is assumed in a smaller church.
In the case where there is no contact I always suggest to include the church office phone number or email. Every printed announcement should have a name, phone number and email attached to it to make it easy for people. This is just a small act of Christian hospitality that recognizes not everyone knows everyone. Just as something is proofed for spelling errors so too you might want to proof for this simple communication rule.
Look in your church bulletin, newsletter or HTML email- does your church forget to add contact info?