coaching ministry best practices Best Practice of Prayer Module 1A: Operating Within God s Will for the Ministry

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1 MINISTRY MASTERY coaching ministry best practices Best Practice of Prayer Module 1A: Operating Within God s Will for the Ministry Note: Begin this Module by reading Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke. Alternate book is God Guides by Mary Geegh. Referenced Materials M01A.01 M01A.02 M01A.03 Prayer Scripture Exercise A Listening Prayer Exercise Spiritual Director Board Position Description Overview Prayer is the foundation that supports all of a ministry s best practices. Without consistent prayer, we have no direction or hope. If we are not praying, how can we be sure that we are following God s path? How can we face our challenges? How can we receive God s provision? Working on your ministry is exciting as well as time consuming. As much as you want to spend time in prayer, it s almost never enough. This is why having an intentional and activated prayer strategy, with an engaged prayer team, is critical. Your ministry must be covered by prayer if it is to receive God s provision and be protected from attack. The purpose of this Module is to gain greater insights and direction from the Lord to operate in His will. That relates to taking your key decision to Him for His direction, asking Him what to do in any and all significant situations requiring decisions, for strategy ideas, staffing decisions, financial actions and much more. The more we take our questions and options to Him for His direction, the more aligned our ministry will be with His will. There s no better place to be then in the center of His will. So if you re frustrated, underfunded, struggling, undecided, stuck, or whatever, taking your needs to Him and then pausing to listen for His direction will lead you to a more effective ministry, that is better funded, more effectively governed and much more fulfilling. After all, isn t that what the Lord wants for His ministry? 2

2 Overview Your ministry prayer team is vital to the organization, but it is one specialized team among many groups in your ministry. The prayer team provides continual prayer support for the ministry as a whole, but having a prayer team does not necessarily mean that the entire organization is infused with prayer. We ll go deeper in this in Module This Module is designed to stimulate your thinking regarding ways that prayer can seep into every nook and cranny of your work, which become a culture of prayer. Culture may be defined as the predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization (American Heritage Dictionary). Your organization has its own culture. That culture includes your attitudes and practices regarding prayer. We all know that prayer should permeate every part of our ministries, but circumstances often keep us from making that ideal a reality. It is also important to realize that you have multiple cultures within your general organizational culture. Your board, staff, database, and target audience all have their own cultures. To infuse prayer into your organizational culture, it will be necessary to communicate across those cultural lines. Taking it one step further, we want to introduce the concept of Listening Prayer to your ministry. All too often we pray and ask God for help and sometimes with a laundry list of requests. In recent years, Ministry Ventures has experienced the power of Listening Prayer and in particular embedding Listening Prayer in how our Board of Directors functions around this amazing prayer posture. The key to prayer is alignment with the Lord s will and way for your ministry. Our objective in this Module is to help you understand the importance of establishing a culture of Listening Prayer, which will transform you and your ministry. Taking on step further, Ministry Ventures has added the Board role of Spiritual Director, which is included in this Model for your convenience. See Module 4, Functioning Governing Body, for more information. This Board role leads the Executive Director in seeking the Lord for the Board meeting agenda, and then opens the Board meeting and leads the board to seek the Lord for key direction where He directs. This critical Board role description exemplifies the alignment principle of this Module. 5

3 Pre-Call Prep Complete the exercises and questions for this Module. Complete the attached Prayer Scripture and Listening prayer Exercises. Please take 30 minutes to read and meditate about the place of prayer in your ministry. Scripture Exercise Questions What has the Lord shown you about prayer through the Scripture exercise? What role does prayer play in the work of ministry that God has given you? Why do you think Scripture repeatedly emphasizes the need to pray continually? 4. How can a ministry pray continually? 6

4 5. What are some benefits of having an intentional prayer strategy? (Some are obvious, but try to think of some not-so-obvious benefits as well.) Exercise If a donor were to look at your organization, how would he or she describe the culture of prayer in your ministry? How would someone being served by your ministry describe your culture of prayer? Are you pleased with these descriptions? If so, why? If not, what do you think needs to change? 4. What do you need to do to embed Listening prayer into your ministry s culture? 7

5 5. What is the next step to bring Listening Pray into your prayer focus? Case Study Jack Smith s prayer team has really gone after their work, and he is pleased. As the months go by, however, he senses that something is missing. Even though the prayer team is doing its job and the staff is busily advancing the work of the ministry, Jack senses that the ministry s operations are spiritually anemic. He expresses this concern in a staff meeting, and together the staff begins to see what has happened. They have been focusing on the fruit but have lost sight of the root. Part of this problem is because his staff experiences what all ministries experience: the personality types of the leaders filter down and infuse the entire organizations. Because Jack focuses on getting things done, so does his team. Over a period of time, this emphasis may lead to a subtle shift. The ministry s personnel have worked in the ministry, but they have lost sight of working on it through prayer. Likewise, a ministry with a highly spontaneous management style could find itself struggling with having a methodical process of prayer. Or, if the leadership is on the passive side, one byproduct of that style will probably be the neglect of prayer. Case Study Questions Has your ministry environment experienced the loss of spiritual focus that Jack s has? If so, can you identify the shifts that took place to get the ministry into such a position? 8

6 How have your leadership traits ministry affected the culture of prayer in your ministry (whether for good or for bad)? What practical steps could Jack take to address the condition of spiritual anemia in his ministry? 4. Which, if any, of these steps do you want to incorporate into your ministry? Review and Next Steps The Challenge In the crush of ministry operations, prayer can be easily overlooked. That s why it is vital to have prayer intentionality built into your organization. Incorporating prayer in an organization means not just talking about prayer but doing it. It means praying regularly for staff members and their families. It means praying specifically for your board and for the needs of the individual members. This lesson is designed to stimulate your thinking and creativity. 9

7 Taking Prayer to Different Groups Within Your Organization Consider the number of groups that exist within your organization. Remember that each of these groups has its own culture: Executive team Staff Board 4. Volunteers 5. Donors 6. General database 7. Target audience (recipients of your ministry services) How can prayer seep into each group? This lesson will get your thinking started. Work with your prayer coach to take this brainstorming further and develop a strategy for prayer infusion. Executive Team It s wise to have periodic retreats for the senior leadership. Where could you go to get away from the daily routine of ministry? How would you facilitate significant prayer at the retreat? What steps can you take to pray regularly and intentionally with your executive team? What time fits best in your schedules? Where should the prayer take place? 10

8 Staff Is significant time allocated for prayer, or is the prayer merely something that is tacked on to the beginning or ending of meetings? Is your time mainly spent in sharing prayer requests? If so, remember that the sharing of requests is primarily man communicating to man. It is not the same as actual prayer, which is communicating directly to God and then listening for His direction. What are some ways that the creativity and significance of staff prayer meetings could be improved? How can you do a better job in communicating staff prayer needs? Perhaps you would be able to arrange some form of retreat for the entire staff. Could this serve as some form of reward for them? How could you bless your staff in special ways at a retreat? Board How can prayer during board meetings go from routine to meaningful? Has your Board started in Listening Prayer once they have asked the Lord for His edition on a particular issue pertinent to the Board meeting? Have you tried praying periodically throughout your board meetings, rather than just at the beginning and end? 11

9 Periodic retreats help a board keep its focus on the strategic direction of the ministry. Prayer plays a vital part in the process of receiving God s insight and direction. Prayer should occupy a prime place on the retreat agenda. Donors Donors are people who have been moved by your ministry vision, by your passion, or by the significance of their relationship with you. Because they are investing their precious financial resources in your work, it is only right to show your appreciation by praying for them. In what ways can you be better attuned to their prayer needs? 12

10 Volunteers Volunteers have chosen to invest a very precious resource: their time. We often take volunteers for granted. What are creative ways to get your prayer needs to your volunteers, and how can you collect (and pray for) their needs? General Database Since you ve already thought about taking prayer to your database, how about praying for these men and women? What do you think some outcomes could be from this intentional praying? 13

11 Target Audience/Clients Your ministry audience is that group of individuals who receive the service of your ministry. You can ask them to pray for you in return, but you can also develop methods to collect, distribute, and pray for their needs. How would you like to involve your target audience in prayer? Impactful Prayer When prayer meetings begin to feel run-of-the-mill, it s time to shake things up. How can you enhance your organization s prayer experience? Consider taking prayer walks around the facility. Hold specific prayer events in specific locations and for specific people. Randomly stop all activities for a special time of prayer. Create ways to remind people to pray. Perhaps you could have a prayer bell that would call the staff to pray. Use cards, s, and other tools to gather and distribute prayer requests. As a reminder, in the day-to-day busy of ministry activity when you re uncertain or stuck on what to do, try this approach. First STOP; then ask the Lord to give you His direction; then LISTEN, and if others are involved, go around the room to let them share what each person has heard from the Lord. That may just be the most effective leadership moment you ll experience all month by inviting the Lord into the situation. 14

12 Infuse new life into your prayer times by reminding your people with examples that prayer works. Expect God to act because of your prayer. What is not happening in our areas of influence because we are not praying? What would God do if we threw ourselves on our knees and pleaded for Him to act, and if we took seriously the words of Jesus that we have not because we ask not? Finally, let s talk about how we communicate. It s one thing to ask your Prayer Team to pray for certain needs and let them go about their prayer pursuit of the Lord. It s another to give them the areas of need to take to the Lord and then let then take the time to listen for the Lord s direction. For some, that may come clearly as a scripture, for others it may be a picture, paragraph, quiet whisper, or however the Lord chooses to communicate. Then by giving the Prayer Team time to talk about what they heard from the Lord will reveal His clear direction on the matter. The next step is to have the Prayer Team Leader capture the essence of what they heard from the Lord and communicate it back to the Prayer Team Liaison in the ministry to pass along to the Executive Director. Once the Executive Director has reviewed the Prayer Team s report, it s up to him or her to distribute it to the Board as appropriate. In many cases the Board needs to know what the Prayer Team has heard as they work together to determine what course to take in the ministry. Additionally this will be validating as the Board takes time before every meeting to address key decisions on strategy, staffing, financial decisions and much more. Conclusion Let s take our ministries from being groups that talk about prayer to groups that actually pray and listen. The prayer-saturated ministry is one that prays throughout the organization, not merely by delegating it to a prayer team. 15

13 Fieldwork Develop a list of action steps that you can take to infuse prayer and listening prayer throughout your organizational culture. Be sure to consider the various cultural subgroups. Give a tentative date for activating each point on the list. Groups Action Steps Date to Begin Executive Team Staff Board Volunteers Donors General Database Target Audience 16

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