Well, Phil, first of all let me
thank you for your longtime friendship, your wonderful international
ministry, and for this opportunity to discuss marketplace ministry. Each
year, the Get Motivated Seminars, featuring speakers like
legendary Christian businessman, Zig Ziglar, "America's Mayor" Rudi
Giuliani, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, businessman Steve
Forbes, former U.S. presidents and sports heroes like former
heavy-weight boxing champion and pastor, George Foreman, fill the
largest arenas in America. These seminars, designed to encourage and
inspire business people in areas of sales, investing, and leadership
were created and are produced by noted Christian businessman Peter Lowe.
I describe Peter and his wife, Tamara, as evangelists who operate a
business; rather than business people who do evangelism, because
although billed as "motivational seminars," without question their heart
is evangelism. In fact, during each seminar Peter follows his personal
development presentation with a clear presentation of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ. In these marketplace seminars he invites tens of thousands
of the nation's "up-and-outers" to repent of their sins and to receive
Christ as their Savior and Lord. And each year thousands of American
business people register first-time decisions for Christ.
*You are a pioneer in the
prayer movement - Have you seen anything that comes close to this
partnership of marketplace ministry and prayer?
Of the many wonderful and
effective marketplace evangelism ministries I see today, this most
likely the largest expression of marketplace evangelism in history. I
know of none who on a week-to-week basis compares. It's remarkable to
see 15,000-20,000 (sometimes more) business people in a marketplace
setting listen intently to a presentation of Gospel.
*What have you learned in
the prayer room about united prayer across denominational and stylistic
differences? Has the Church made progress in the last 15-20 years at
being better able to unite in prayer for a common Kingdom cause?
As you know, Phil, in each of these events we set aside a room we call The Power Center where we (Alice or I) facilitate all-day onsite worship and intercession (Harp and Bowl) with approximately 25 local pastors and other praying people. The seminar company provides the room, a keyboard and other necessary worship equipment, free passes, staff badges for the day, their breakfast and lunch, and a couple of free books.
I call it a hands-on,
marketplace, prayer/evangelism workshop. It's an opportunity to be
engaged in prayer "in the trenches" to extend the Kingdom.
As far as Peter and Tamara Lowe
and their Get Motivated staff are concerned, those who serve in The
Power Center are VIPs in every way. The Lowe's attribute their
remarkable business and ministry success to the Lord's response to the
prayer-investment of these wonderful teams.
Sometimes the speakers visit
the prayer room for prayer. And there have been verifiable miracles
occur in direct connection with our prayers.
Our teams are not
"pre-selected." Via email we announce upcoming events and our need for
praying people. We encourage folks to register to serve using an
Internet registration form at <www.usprayercenter.org/seminars>.
The first 25 who register, first-come first-served, comprise our team.
As you might imagine, the teams
are always unique and distinctly different. Each is a blend of races,
ages, and denominational and nondenominational backgrounds. There are
different prayer-styles, expectations, and approaches in prayer. One of
our roles is to welcome them, clearly explain to them the purpose for
the day, outline to them the procedure we will be using and why. It's
not unlike becoming "pastor-for-a-day." It involves setting the course,
encouraging, instruction, coaching, and yes, sometimes (though rarely)
It all begins by praying
through the arena prior to the opening of the doors.
We've managed these prayer rooms for the past three years, which represents more than 100 events. I can certainly tell you that in the past three years I've witnessed a growing maturity in intercession, prayer and spiritual warfare. Clearly, praying Christians are…
"Maturity." That's the word
that comes to mind.
And, as you suggest, 15-20
years ago prayer rooms like these would have been much more difficult.
For one thing it would have been harder to find people willing to serve
in this capacity. They wouldn't have known the value of prayer back
then. Sadly, prayer and evangelism were "divorced" at that time.
There were so many approaches
then, and everyone consider their approach the right one. Personal
liberty was elevated over corporate unity (in conflict with 1 Cor. 14).
And, as a rule, corporate prayer wasn't corporate prayer at all. At best
it was "individual prayer in a corporate setting." True corporate prayer
is today a colorful bud, beginning to bloom into a beautiful flower that
must certainly bless the Father.
*You are also an evangelist
- What are you learning about the role of prayer toward impacting the
marketplace with the Gospel?
Perhaps our "prayerwalking
friend" Steve Hawthorne is the one who suggests that we pray where we
want to see the answer come. I know that when Alice and I were pastors
of a local church in Houston we didn't just pray for God to close the
"gentlemen's clubs" (strip joints). We literally divided the
congregation into teams, piled into vans (four to six people in a van)
and drove to those clubs. We parked on the outer edges of the parking
lots and prayed. Our ladies took Christmas gifts to the exotic dancers
and blessed them. Then the following week we scoured newspapers, radio
and television broadcasts, Etc. for any evidence that we had "hit the
target." It was strategic, productive prayer. When there was no
indication of our success we were honest enough to gather and admit that
we had missed. But there was great excitement and celebration when there
was measurable, discernable evidence that we had been heard in heaven.
As there was the week 27 clubs closed! We celebrated the Lord for his
faithfulness to hear and respond to us.
One morning an exotic dancer
called from the parking lot of the gentleman's club for which she
worked. Alice and her prayer team led the girl to Christ over the phone.
She quit her job at the club, and the last we heard she was attending
Oxford University in England completely her degree.
We witnessed to one successful businessman. He was so moved (though unsaved) that he invited our church to come and pray through his place of business. We did. God moved in powerful ways that night. In the days that followed his business literally exploded. He became a popular radio personality on one of the most powerful stations in Houston. And one night, sitting on his patio with him and his wife, we had the privilege of leading him to Christ! Due to his "radio pulpit" his Christian testimony touches the entire city of Houston today.
I believe prayer is the key to
impacting the marketplace with the Gospel. For too long we have
overlooked the evangelistic opportunities there. And when we did present
Christ, we presented the spiritual truths of the Gospel to spiritually
blind people. Presenting Christ is "Step Two;" effective, strategic,
targeted prayer is "Step One."
I'm pleased to say that
recently I've learned of a mayor of one of the nation's largest cities;
one of Hollywood's most successful movie producers; and one who could
quite likely be a presidential candidate in the future have all come to
Christ in the marketplace!
If I were a pastor today I
would spend three Saturday mornings teaching my business people how to
minister in the marketplace. Then I would have an "ordination" service
and ordain them to the "marketplace ministry." I would give them forms
to report monthly how many times they shared the Gospel, how many prayer
meetings and Bible studies they conducted, how many converts they had
and any other things related to their ministry, including business
successes. I would "do what I see the Father doing."
*What fruit is resulting
from these boiler rooms of prayer?
Phil, until I was 40 years old
the churches I grew up in and served as pastor or a pastoral staff
member had three or more weeks of intense church-centered evangelism
each year. These week-long (which later degraded to three-day) crusades
included sermons on "the second coming," "the cross," "the blood,"
"hell," and Etc. The purpose? To make sure every church member was truly
saved, and that every child nine-years old or older knew Christ.
In addition, we conducted
spring and fall city-wide evangelistic crusades in football stadiums.
Alice and I ministered in more than 800 of these events in the 60s and
Suddenly, overnight it seemed,
it became "un-cool" for pastors to offer salvation invitations on Sunday
morning following their messages. In fact, the preaching of the gospel
was replaced with sermons on marriage, parenting, business ethics, and
Even in our prayer conferences
and seminars Alice and I preach the gospel. We are finding that many
church folks have never truly been born again. They talk the talk, but
Christ isn't alive in them! This very morning more than 30 adults in the
congregation where I preached came forward to trust Christ as their
Savior. A couple of years ago I spoke to one of the world's premiere
youth ministries. That night 75 of those young people who had committed
themselves to Christian ministry wept their way to Christ. Their
testimonies were almost all the same: "I've made a decision for Christ
in the past, but until tonight I'd never encountered his transforming
power. Now I know He's alive in me!"
Alice and I have led pastors,
ministers of worship, deacons and their wives, and missionaries to
Christ. One evangelist we led to Christ wept and said, "I've seen
thousands of people come to Christ during my 19 years in evangelism.
Every time I watched one of them receive Christ and saw their
transformation I wished it were me.
Phil, the long answer to your
question is: the average church isn't even engaged in evangelism among
their own congregation, much less their neighborhood, and city. Thank
God for the exceptions. And thank God he is beginning to move out of the
church building and into the marketplace. People are being led to Christ
by their bosses and work associates. At the Get Motivated Seminars,
when Christians see Peter Lowe's bold and effective presentation of
Christ in a public, business environment, they are convicted and
challenged to "come out of the closet" and be who God designed them to
And the nameless and faceless
prayer-servants, worshiping and praying in that hidden room we call "The
Power Center" at each seminar Peter and Tamara's ministry-partners. As
they often say, "For years we did it without you. We wouldn't want to
ever do what we do again without people praying onsite."
*Anything else prayer
leaders and evangelists ought to know...?
Perhaps you've heard it said
that in the 1950s God's spotlight fell on the evangelist.
Remember, Billy Graham was discovered in 1948 in Los Angeles,
California. Every young preacher boy in the 1950s wanted to be an
God's spotlight shifted to
the pastor in the 1960s. It was in the 1960s that many of
today's "mega churches" and "mega church pastors" planted their roots.
In fact, in the 1960s I saw many evangelists leave evangelism to pastor
churches. They couldn't have absolutely known why they felt the impulse
to do it. But looking back, it was clear that God's focus was on the
role of the pastor.
In the 1970s heaven's spotlight
moved again; this time to the teacher. The decade of the 70s was
the decade of radio teachers and cassette tapes. Christians woke up each
morning with two or three radio preachers they would listen to that day.
If they were Charismatic/Pentecostal their list included people like
Oral Roberts, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and
others. If they were Evangelical their list included Chuck Swindoll,
John McArthur, J. Vernon McGee, and others.
It was in the 70s that an
amazing teacher appeared, so it seemed, from nowhere. Without music he
filled the largest stadiums in the nation to capacity. With a microphone
and an overhead projector, Bill Gothard, anointed by the Holy Spirit
changed the course of American Christianity.
Then with the 1980s God's
spotlight moved to the prophet. Suddenly I had a problem. I
thought prophets were consigned to the Old Testament. I suppose I had
concluded that God had written a "Best-seller" and retired, having
nothing else to say. I had conveniently overlooked what he said in his
"Best-seller," "he that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Lord
is saying to the churches." I discovered that he hadn't stopped
speaking, I had stopped listening; or at least I'd relegated him to
three subjects: who to marry; what college to attend; and how much to
put in the offering. <smile>
I had no more adjusted to the
idea that God was still speaking when the spotlight moved in the 90s to
the apostle. That was the biggest shock of all. I thought there
were twelve and they were all dead. It had never dawned on me that there
were still "fathers" (pastors of the pastors) in the church and that
their would be until the church attains to the whole measure of the
fullness of Christ. Last time I checked, we're not even close! However,
I do believe in God's "suddenlies." I believe God has his church in the
fast lane toward maturity. PTL!
WHAT IS THIS DECADE? There is
only one thing left in Ephesians 4:11-13. It is for the saints equipped
for the work of the ministry to come out of the closet in the
marketplace. Clearly there are signs around the world that this has
begun. The first six years, now entering the seventh, we have seen
remarkable, historic transformations!
*Eddie, please write a
prayer that we can all pray with you that takes praying out of the
church building and expands it beyond the sick and tired prayer lists .
"Father God, we love you, your
heart, and your intentions toward us and toward all mankind. We repent
for our failure to take you into every area of our lives. We repent for
not taking you to the nations as we should have, and for being
one-hour Christians who say hello to you at eleven o'clock
each Sunday and says goodbye precisely at noon.
Today we commit ourselves to be
24/7 believers, engaged with you in every part of our lives. Forgive us
for considering prayer to be little more than a tool to get what we
need, a way to solve problems, rather than an instrument with which to
extend your kingdom.
We've been problem-centered,
not purpose-driven in our praying. We have focused on 'these things'
that you said would be added, rather than focusing on 'the thing'-- your
kingdom. We see it! When we pray in your kingdom, our needs are met!
When we make 'your thing' our thing, you will make 'our things'
your thing. We are getting the picture. It's not about us, it's
about you and about your kingdom.
We accept your challenge to
carry your message into the marketplace. We say 'yes' to your challenge
to present Christ to the cab drive, the delivery boy, our employees,
fellow workers, and employers.
We ask you to once again light the 'fire of evangelism' in the belly of the American church and pastor. We ask you to make your church a blazing torch to which those who are wandering in darkness can come and find life. And make us light-bearers that we may be torches in the marketplace who bring light to those held captive in darkness. We give you all glory, in Christ's name. Amen."