The staff and elders are planning two significant changes this summer. After the congregational open forum on April 25 the elders decided to move ahead with plans for Praying the Vision and The Gate. (This week I will discuss one and next week the other.)
Praying the Vision is a Sunday morning schedule change for the summer that aims to put corporate prayer closer to the center of our congregational life than it ever has been. We will go to one morning service beginning June 13. The service will start at 9:30. It will be followed by a large all-congregational prayer meeting in the sanctuary which will end at about 11:45. We are calling the hour of prayer “Praying the Vision” because the aim is to take the vision of God and his purpose we just saw in worship, and turn it into power through prayer.
Like other “concerts of prayer” Praying the Vision will involve lots of different people, lots of different ways of praying and lots of different focuses. Taking the challenges of the week before us, and the vision of God, we will pray down the power of God on us and our city and on the Christian movement around the world.
The “bridge” (not break) between the worship service and Praying the Vision will be led by the worship team and will last perhaps 15 minutes. Those who need to go will be free to use the bridge that way. Children will cross the bridge to their classes. Some of us will stand on the bridge and join in the singing. Some will pray on the bridge with the prayer teams. Some may gather into little groups on the bridge to pray God’s added power on what he is doing that morning. Some may greet the new people on the bridge whom they sat beside that morning and invite them to stay to pray the vision (and even go out to lunch). Some may sit in silence on the bridge and just enjoy the presence of the Lord. Then comes the 45 minutes of powerful all-church praying.
Our suggestion is that Adult Sunday School classes not meet for these weeks on Sunday morning, but have other kinds of gatherings during the summer. The children will have Sunday School during Praying the Vision (10:45 – 11:45). We hope that the children will have appropriate Praying the Vision segments in their classes. We plan that at least one of the “Praying the Vision” hours in the sanctuary will be led in part by the children and youth relating directly to their concerns. We hope that everyone is willing to pitch in with the nursery so that we can all take turns going to worship and to Praying the Vision.
Our hope and prayer is that whatever we lose in this change, God will make up to us through the power of prayer. Not having Sunday School is a loss. Not having the option of two services is a loss. The need for nursery workers to miss worship is a loss. But we believe that it is worth the risk because of what we might also be losing by not praying together as a whole church. What might God do when the whole congregation says, “Seeking the Lord in prayer is so important that we will give it prime time on Sunday morning, and not just a little sandwich slot on Wednesday evening”?
My own sense is that God will be so honored by this “risk” that he will make up to us everything we lose and pour out such a blessing on us in power and courage and love and generosity that we will discover all our losing is gaining.
Already praying the vision with you,