INNER ~ VIEWS #009
--->NPPNote: The following interview took place on a Mission America Cities & Communities Conference Call, January 16, 2003. Consider distributing it to a Pastor who leads or might be interested in beginning a Pastorsí Prayer Group...
Jarvis Ward welcomed early participants who introduced themselves by name and then opened the call with prayer.
Glenn Barth reviewed the mission of City/Community Ministries: seeking to identify, connect, resource and empower transformational leaders who facilitate the unity of the church for holistic evangelism, revival and spiritual awakening in their cities. He clarified that we are not the ones recruiting Ė that is Godís business. We want to identify those whom God is raising up for His purpose in this time. Prayer is at the core of that.
Glenn asked Wayne Pederson to give a quick update on the fall meetings in New York City. Wayne shared that 2000-2500 people expected at this meeting to be held at the Hilton New York (Manhattan). It begins with a nationally broadcast Town Hall Meeting featuring a diverse panel of representatives from the media, church, para-church, humanitarian and government. It will be moderated by a nationally known media host and churchman, exploring how the church can impact our cities. There will be a daily Bible exposition by Tim Keller. At 10 a.m. the program will break into about 15 tracks designed for those from legal field, corporate and marketplace, media, arts, education, church planting, youth ministries, etc. Some will be held on site, others off site. Some will be round table formats, others more traditional seminars. Each evening there will be a keynote speaker: Monday night on the theme of "care" - using humanitarian and compassion ministries to touch people with the gospel. Tentatively it will be an African American speaker. Tuesday the theme will be share, re: proclamation evangelism. Tentatively the speaker will be Luis Palau. Wed. morning the focus will be on "Turn On the Light America" movement Ė where do we go from here?
We desire to take these concepts to cities across America. It isnít necessarily about New York, but happens to be held in New York.
Glenn added that information can be received by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org We are encouraging cities to send teams of 10 to participate in this forum. Phil Miglioratti has been working with Mac Pier, the Cities Team, Wayne Pederson and Paul Cedar from the Mission America office. For those who may not have heard, Wayne Pederson is now President of Mission America.
Glenn also mentioned the regional City Impact Roundtables which are being planned in coming months. Also, faithHighway is helping to update the conference calls, providing chat room capability while on the call. We will be sending out information on other initiatives, i.e. Honor Our Heroes and Christian Emergency Network.
Glenn noted that our guest, Phil Miglioratti, is becoming well know through his great communication vehicle for Pastors Prayer Groups www.NPPN.org Phil is a graduate of Northeastern University and Trinity Divinity School. He has served as a pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention in a northern city Ė Chicago, IL. During his many years in the pastorate, he found great value in pastorsí prayer, and initiated the National Pastors Prayer Network, now reaching approximately 3000. He is serving as part of the Mission America City/Community Ministries Facilitator Team. He can be contact him by email: Phil@NPPN.org
Jarvis asked, "What is the significance of the Pastorsí Prayer Movement? Phil: The significance may not be fully known for the next 12-15 years. It is a God thing. No one decided we should have pastors prayer groups Ė we just discovered that God was raising them up. A lot of those who take leadership in these groups or clusters Ė it is something extra, which also shows it is a God thing. In this movement, we donít know what the future holds Ė Is it revival? Awakening/change in the key culture of the church? Pastors used to have a "study" but more recently it has become more of an "office", like the corporate model. But we hope that it is now "the pastorís prayer closet" which brings forth Godís direction and goals. I hope that what God is doing is drawing those of us who shepherd congregations and even denominations into what He wants for us.
Pastorsí Prayer Groups seemed to appear quickly in the
mid 90ís ... Are they still active? Growing? It was the mid-90s when I
began to find these groups. I donít know that itís stopped, but that perhaps
we are in a cycle. There was an early excitement, but as people move away or
drift away, it is difficult to sustain continuous growth on a chart. The role of
the PPN facilitator helps us find ourselves, restarting, going deeper.
What issues have surfaced over the past 5-7 years in the
Pastorsí Prayer Movement? I think that most of the groups began with
pastors and ministry leaders wanting to pray together. While we must never stop
praying together, out of each group must come some action, perhaps a food
pantry, a pastorsí prayer summit where itís not just our group of 6-8
pastors but a whole city or region come together. For others it might be
churches coming together for worship. But there are issues every group must
face, i.e. denominations, bringing together.
There are the issues of connecting with missing mainline churches, the need for reconciliation, balance in how to stay together in prayer with different theological issues. Another is the partnership between pastors and prayer leaders/intercessors. Intercessors sometimes meet concurrent with pastors groups. Finally, prayer has to lead somewhere. We pray so that as God speaks to us and empowers us, the church is moving, more than blessing just the pastors or prayer leaders who come together. We look for transformation Ė an awakening in a culture where neighborhoods, governments and cities change. We have a long way to go. But the fact of pastors coming together to pray leads toward that.
What is the relationship of the PPM and City
Transformation? How has the pastors prayer movement has contributed in a
measurable way to city transformation? Phil: Yes, it is not the only thing,
but it is one essential subset of the overall goal for Godís kingdom to come,
for transformation to take place. As this takes place at the grassroots level,
there will be more connection between transformation and pastors prayer efforts.
.Revival? Relationships? Reconciliation?
.Emergence of Apostolic, Prophetic
.Beyond prayer to transformation (CIR)
Glenn commented on an early experience when he was invited to meet regularly with a Presbyterian pastor, a Congregational pastor and a Fellowship Bible Church pastor for Bible study, time in prayer for one another, concerns in our ministries, and our families. What a wonderful support and mentoring that was for me as a pastor.
Phil: That is an example of some groups with unique characteristics. A lot of groups began with the thought of coming together for fellowship, but also to "pray in revival". But as we deepen and mature, we are recognizing that it is prayer that will propel us into caring in our culture so that when we share Christ, they will have seen our care.
Glenn, weíve been praying for you as youíve been in Nigeria recently. What is happening across the globe? Phil: On our website, we have 2 dozen countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Holland, Australia, Canada, etc. In Nigeria, one thing that struck me is in a country is the way the leaders of 36 states were networking in communication with each other where technology is so far behind. I was encouraged that God can do this in nations that are not as far along as the US and Canada. I was also struck by the fervency of the people. This happened to be a Prayer Quake. They had 8,000-10,000 there. I hope some of the fervency poured over me.
Jarvis invited participants to submit their questions.
Question and Answer
Dennis Fuqua, IRM in Portland, OR. You have mentioned the number of pastorsí networks taking place, and referred to a cycle. What about the difficulties? When it loses vitality, what should they do to keep it vital? Phil: They should unite Dennis Fuqua in a prayer summit. Seriously, if it is stagnant, what often does spark it is the presence of others who have the same passion and vision. Perhaps they should look for another pastors prayer group within driving distance, perhaps a prayer summit, meeting for 3-4 days of focused, united prayer. Another thought is "Why do we come together anyway?" We need to get away from the "If we do this, God will do that" that leads to disappointment in our expectations. If we can change our expectations, do it out of obedience rather than force Godís hand, then folks can handle the wilderness times, loss of pastors who have moved out of town. It might help if the group talked about their expectations. Phil recommended Tom Whiteís book and Mac Pierís book on prayer in cities. Conferences like CIR are helpful Ė putting yourself in a group with others who are facing similar situations. Take the next steps and not give up.
Mark Johnson, City First, Chicago. Nigeria Ė When you saw the networks, did you get to see any transformational things? Did you see their commitment to fellowship and relationship to one another? Phil: I had limited exposure. >From what I saw, in that culture, relationship is much more a given than what we have in our cities. Transformation is probably not common vocabulary. I saw both healthy and unhealthy responses. Poverty has brought in the prosperity gospel, so they struggle with that, and with the darkness of the enemy. Some pastors preach from the scriptures but go to the local witch doctor, so they struggle with syncretism. Their focus in prayer is in combating evil. As they do that, I think they will see transformation take place. The percentage of people who would call themselves Christians is perhaps double what we have in the US, but it doesnít always translate into transformed living.
Bob Fox, VA Beach: As you monitor pastors groups at home and abroad, what would you say is the greatest benefit - relationship, helping each other grow, problems or the mission side of doing things in the city? Phil: I look at it this way: I see a triangle Ė worship at the top, relationship and partnership at the bottom. There are 3 doorways into pastors prayer groups. There are those who come in to praise, worship and pray together. Others come in and say itís all about relationship, with God and one another. Others come and pray so they can know what to do. Partnership is their expectation. So it depends on who you ask. In some groups, perhaps as pastors prayer groups move into networking, they run the danger of all 3 being disappointed. We donít pray enough, weíre not relating enough, partnership people thinking we arenít doing enough. There needs to be a balance. In some ways itís like what happens in a local church.
Steve Hall, Seattle: Could you speak to the value of the servant leader team in a city? Phil I would affirm this, but itís easier said than done. This afternoon we have a meeting for One Great City, Chicago. My struggle with the servant leader team is not the concept. If you set it too soon, itís your table, not theirs. But if you never set the table (identify those around it) you are probably meandering rather than focusing. The difficulty is how to begin without making later arrivals feel they are not part of the table. Servant leader teams tend to be anglo-white, and others who are working hard in other parts of the vineyard donít connect in the same way. The team needs to find those of other ethnicities, denominations and "flavors" so that the servant leader team is not self-appointed and looks like "the whole body of Christ."
Neil Cox, Indianapolis: I want to thank you for the One Great City Ė presentations you have done there that have helped us in Indianapolis get a head start. Your article, Living in a Prayed For City, has motivated our team to do some things, seeking some measurable outcomes.
Jarvis: What are some issues that pastors prayer networks can do about the issue of gender. There are challenges with some denominations. Phil: Itís not an easy issue, no matter what your theological position. I think weíd like to say itís just a Biblical interpretation, a theological thing. But I think we grew up in a culture that colors our thinking. There are denominations that recognize women in pastoral leadership and will honor that. My hope is that those whose theological view is against that, will in prayer still honor that. When a group tries to deal with it, it gets difficult. Weíre going to have to deal with it, but wherever the movement goes, some will support it and some may step aside. One group in Chicago felt that they could not attend if women pastors were included. We need to do it with grace and love. We do have men and women at pastors prayer summits, praying in separate rooms for part of the time, coming together for part of the time. Thatís one way to deal with it.
Dennis Fuqua was asked to comment on the question. He said that IRM (which encourages pastorsí prayer summits) has seen that in some cities, i.e. Chicago and Philadelphia, when they made that shift, the summit ended up being fuller because of womenís participation. There is wisdom in having "gender specific times". The practical issue, in addition to theological issue, is when you deal with women in ministry, you have a broader context. Itís easy to say "Letís go through the phone book and invite pastors to a prayer summit." But there is no place in the phone book to find women in ministry. The number of female pastors in cities is a small minority, and if there are just a few women pastors at a prayer summit, they feel like a minority. However, it is worth the effort.
Phil: It was interesting in Nigeria, at a conference of several days, they had different pastors come up to take the offering. The final one was a greatly respected female pastor who talked very directly about the fact that there were no women coordinators in their network of 36 areas.
Ernestine Davis, Atlanta: This year in October, Iíll be Director over Jesus Day Parade. Iím realizing that to do this, I have to work with pastors and pull them together here in Atlanta. The greatest challenge is knowing that there are some obvious overt issues. Phil: Make sure that you surround yourself with others so the invitation to pastors comes from a team. Right or wrong, when an invitation comes, we look to see who is doing the event. If it is from a team, more folks would be amenable to participating. Perhaps you could delegate to pastors in the area the task of inviting. For example Glenn and Jarvis arenít doing the inviting to our NYC meeting in October Ė they are invoking conveners who will be a part of that invitation.
Jarvis called attention to the possibility of having a simultaneous email chat room during the conference call. He noted that those who were able to get on the December conference call spent more time than usual in prayer. Those who are on the call but usually just listen might be able to type in a comment in the chat room in future calls.
Bob Fox: If itís true that there is an increasing level of pain in our country such as the economy and war, pastors will need a great deal of support. Community needs are going to go up. How do we prepare for possible disasters? Phil: A little is being done, but not doing enough. Iím sensing that one aspect of the Pastorsí Prayer Movement is that God is preparing us so that if a level of persecution or disaster comes to our nation, there are networks in place so itís in the dna of pastors to relate organically at the grassroots. I donít know many who are doing this for cities, other than New York.
Jarvis added that there are some Mission America Coalition partners who are beginning to help pastors prepare to do that. It is an important piece. Bob Fox commented that it is difficult; no one even wants to go there. Pat Robertson was on TV recently, and Alice Smith also said recently that God will be using problems in our nation to draw people to Him. I feel we need to blow the trumpet, be ready. Jarvis said there is a Christian Emergency Network being put in place through Mission America, so that if a terrorist attack hits, there are people who are prepared to communicate through Christian media, mobilize resources, and have a strong holistic gospel response in practice and proclamation. That might be a topic for one of our coming conference calls. Jarvis invited people to write email@example.com if they have any thoughts on this. He also reminded them of the web site www.cityreaching.com where minutes of the call will be available soon.
Phil expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share on the call. He said "I get a lot of credit for cutting and pasting the testimonies of others. When networks communicate, they can move towards more of a cooperate system and ultimately to full collaboration of the gospel in the city. I hope we move forward by looking backward. The essential dna is praying together to see what our work is, bringing prayer with us wherever we are going. Prayer brings us together in strategy and unity. I hope the few Pastors Prayer Networks we have identified are just the tip of the iceberg."
Jarvis reminded callers that the next call is Feb. 20. He thanked Phil, and asked him to close in prayer. Phil prayed that God would come and change His church, and draw more into prayer networks so He could speak powerfully and so people could become part of His forever family.
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