Earlier this year I wrote an article about feeling God’s tug on my heart to reach out in partnership with some other churches in our community. Below is that article, and as you read, know that the Prayer Tent this Saturday is the next step in the unfolding work that God has begun in this area. The Outpost will always be my primary responsibility, but God also calls us all to unity wherever possible for the sake of reaching lost people… And it’s hard to go wrong with unified prayer…
“Leave me alone Lord,” I grumbled… “I’m comfortable in my bunker. Don’t make me stick my head out there.” Oddly enough, God didn’t listen. Week after week I felt the tug of the Spirit on my heart, prompting me to step out and reach out from under my Jonah-like shade vine (a.k.a., my church office) in order to connect with other pastors in prayer for the sake of our community. Again and again I retreated to the safety of that shady bunker and tried to out-wait God.
In the book of Jonah, God was ready to save a city. So was the king of that city – and all the people too! The only one who wasn’t? Jonah, the very one God sent to “preach” to them. Near the end of the story it’s obvious the city will be saved, and yet Jonah, out of sync with God’s plan, forges ahead with his own work and his own agenda, building a shack on the city outskirts so he can observe the Justice of God in action. When God graces him with additional comfort via a “shade vine,” the Bible says Jonah was more concerned about that little vine than he was for the city of “more than 120,000” people that was his true charge.
On May 1, 2007, I joined 4 other pastors and a mixed group from various churches in response to an invitation to meet at our town center on the National Day of Prayer, to intercede for our small mountain community. It became a wonderful time of unified worship, prayer and purpose: the transformation of our small “city” for God. I don’t know how far God would have gone in “withering” my own ministry focus had I continued to ignore the urging of His Spirit to partner with other pastors in unity. I do know that until I took that first step in May, I was not permitted to feel rest. As our church makes plans for increasingly cooperative efforts to reach our town and county for Christ, I’m constantly challenged to look beyond my immediate flock and see the bigger picture: “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” We cannot reach them alone.
As I said before, you are my primary responsibility – I have been brought here to “equip the saints for ministry,” and you are one of those saints! We do, however, share in the same ministry as every other God-fearing church in Weaverville – to seek and save the lost. And we’re starting with prayer.