One of the requirements in the the final year of our ordination process is to complete an ordination project.
The ordination project is the newest part of our conference’s ordination process, added (actually it replaced another requirement) earlier this year (as a result of the formation of the new Susquehanna Conference). In the future, ordination candidates will have a full two years to plan and execute projects, but due to the mid-year change, our class of candidates will only have a few months.
According to the written instructions, it’s pretty wide-open, although (according to the unwritten instructions) it’s expected to be something fairly innovative and in line with the the UMC’s latest emphasis, Rethink Church.
Basically, it needs to be something we’d be doing anyway and we’ll just need to add some layers — writing a spiritual reflection paper and preparing and giving a 15-minute multimedia presentation to the Board of Ordained Ministry (due January 2011 and presented in March).
After submitting my proposal and receiving approval, I’m posting it here. One of the things that’s important to me is that it be a project that naturally flows out of where we’ve been and is the next faithful step at Centre Grove.
In that light, here’s the background I wrote for this project …
I arrived at Centre Grove in July 2008 with the initial goals of (1) getting acquainted/acclimated and (2) building a shared vision. To build a shared vision, I began leading Council on a 2-year journey through Bishop Schnase’s Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations in January 2009 (I began 2010 with a sermon series on the practices). As we finish up our engagement of the Five Practices, the next step is to rethink prayer in the life of a disciple-making/transformational church!
Here’s the purpose of this project …
The best way to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is to be a prayer-saturated church. A prayer-saturated church is mission-driven and outward-focused. My goal, as a transformational leader, is to cultivate a place where prayer informs, guides, and empowers mission and ministry!
By the way, I’ve wrestled with a number of terms — praying congregation, prayer-centered church, prayer-based church. Prayer-saturated, which comes from a book title (below), is my favorite. More than being a “praying church” (prayer can be self-focused) I want to communicate the idea of prayer as foundation for mission and ministry (therefore, prayer-based is currently second on my list).
With all of that in mind, here’s the plan for executing this project …
- Deepen my own personal prayer life through greater focus on spiritual disciplines (especially prayer, Scripture reading, journaling, and fasting).
- Recruit prayer partners to pray for me and the mission/ministry of the church.
- Develop a missional prayer guide based on the Lord’s Prayer.
- Equip leaders to lead groups/committees in missional prayer.
- Engage in missional prayer in Council meetings, particularly as we discuss Risk-Taking Mission and Service and create new ways to engage our community with the good news of Jesus Christ (fall 2010).
- Equip people for missional prayer through preaching (fall 2010 series on the Lord’s Prayer, “What Would Jesus Pray?”) and teaching (emphasize missional prayer in new First Steps class, which grew out of our Five Practices discussion; open to all, required for membership).
- Provide opportunities to model and/or engage in missional prayer (e.g., make prayer during worship more missional by praying intentionally for mission and ministry, in addition to personal needs) and prayer-walking/driving in our neighborhoods.
The project involves identifying the fruit/results of the project. While shaping the culture of a church is a long term effort, there are some short-term goals I’d like to accomplish in the next few months:
- Equip people to pray missionally (i.e., to saturate the church’s ministry in prayer).
- Be more intentional about praying missionally in worship gatherings, ministries, and meetings.
- Experience greater fruit from our mission/ministry.
- See more people get involved in the mission and ministry of the church (this one may take longer to see fruit, but it’s an important, if not long term, goal).
There are a number resources I’m planning to use, including resources by Bishop Rueben Job (Becoming a Praying Congregation), Terry Teykl, Jim Cymbala, Bill Hybels (Too Busy Not to Pray), and Cheryl Sacks (The Prayer-Saturated Church; see BridgeBuilders; as a parent, I’m interested in Sacks’ Prayer-Saturated Kids).
While my time is limited, I am hoping to connect with and learn from other prayer-saturated churches (churches that saturate their mission and ministry in prayer).
So, as we jump more deeply into this project at Centre Grove, I am excited about its impact on our mission and ministry. And I’m excited about the project itself — reflecting on what God will do during the next several months and presenting it to the Board of Ordained Ministry.
But with the excitement is a little trepidation. I could have chosen an easier project — something a bit more easily defined, something easier to measure, something I might have a little more control of. But, alas, I’ve never been one to take the easy way! 🙂
If you have any resources to recommend that would help this project or if you know any churches that saturate their mission and ministry in prayer, please leave a comment and let me know. And if this is something that interests you, watch for a report later.
Finally, I would appreciate your prayers for this effort (not just the “ordination project,” but more importantly, the initiative at Centre Grove!).