Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Missional renaissance - pt. 2 (prayer-scaping)

Chapter 4 of Reggie McNeal's book, Missional Renaissance, deals with 'Changing the Scorecard from an Internal to an External Focus.' He says the "scorecard categories" where we need to refocus our resources include: Prayer, People, Calendar (time), Finances, Facilities, and Technology.

Lots of stuff, but the one thing that really stuck out to me was the section on "prayer-scaping" on p. 70 (bold print is mine):
Jesus was once asked why he did what he did. His reply was, "I'm just doing what I see my Father doing." I frequently ask spiritual leaders what they are doing that they see God doing. Learning to see God, to hear him, is the real product of prayer. Its major objective is not to inform him or bend him to our purposes. The result of praying is to attenuate us to God's will and God's work going on all around us. If we ask God to show us what he sees, he will! And it will change us.

For example, each member of the staff at one church was instructed to go to a coffee shop, sit on a park bench, or stand in a mall parking lot and pray a simple prayer: "Lord, help me see what you see." They were to listen for an hour to the voice of God and then reconvene to share what they had heard. This simple outing radically changed their outlook as they realized that what was in the heart of God was much bigger than typical church concerns. They began to see broken families, homeless people, at-risk children, stressed teenagers - all people they were not engaging with their church ministry. Grippled by the heart of God, they gained an urgency to address what they saw.

The staff were so jazzed at what happened to them, they actually sent the church out on a Sunday morning to do the same exercise they had done. They then brought the congregation back later that day to discuss impressions. That church has never been the same. It has shifted from church-centric to kingdom-biased.

You know, I actually used to do things like this every now and then (by myself). I need to start doing it more again. This is one of those things that's hard to explain to people when they ask, "So what exactly does a pastor do all week?" But I really think this would be a good idea for our whole church to do too. We could have a "Pray Sunday" where we all went somewhere in the morning and asked God to help us see what he sees, and then have a gathering at night and talk about it. I don't know if it would be better to just let people decide on their own where they wanted to go, or to actually suggest some spots (so maybe we had several people at the same place)? Maybe suggest some spots and leave it open too. I dunno. I'll probably forget about it anyway. But I like this sort of thing.