Strategy: Participation in Prayer, Worship, and the Word

So far, we have identified our Mission, the “what” of our strategic plan. We have also looked at our Values, the “why.” Next, we will look at our specific strategies, or the “how” of our strategic plan.

This is the point that some of you may be expecting a revolutionary, innovative strategy from some best-selling book written by a mega-church leader. Well, that’s exactly what we get when we outline the strategies we see in the Bible (the best-selling book of all time) penned by the people (the Apostles and close associates) that led churches of thousands. They had seen and walked with Jesus Himself and had been discipled by the Chief Shepherd, and the words they wrote were by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Any strategy we adopt must start here at the source.

Participation in Prayer is as essential for our spiritual lives as water is for our physical lives. The human body can only go a few days without water, so it is often not more than a few steps away, yet consistent prayer is often a struggle in our world of constant distraction and busyness. Jesus spent extensive time in prayer and taught us how to pray. Prayer is not a one-sided conversation, simply asking for what we need or want; it is a direct, two-way interaction with God. Yes, Jesus taught us to ask for what we need, but the bigger result is when we better know the mind of Christ and see the world more as He sees it. God changes things; prayer changes us.

Participation in Worship, both individually and corporately, should be natural for the believer. Acknowledging our low position in relation to the Creator of the universe should inspire reverence. Recognizing what God has done for us should make it unthinkable not to praise to Him. There will be ‘dry’ times when worship is offered primarily out of obedience and commitment, but the default state should be that worship comes easily for the follower of Jesus. Our public worship together should be the culmination of our everyday personal worship, not the entirety of it.

Participation in the Word brings us to a mirror to see ourselves for who we really are. Through the histories, prophecies, wisdom, and teachings of the Bible, we see what pleases and angers God. Through Scripture, and ultimately in Jesus, God has revealed Himself to us. The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word, giving us understanding and pointing us to particular passages, and no previous generation of believers has had better access to the written Word than we do. If prayer is our water, then the Word is our food. We shouldn’t be spoon-fed our entire lives.

Notice that each of these strategies starts with “participation,” as will the following three. We cannot be consumers of the services of the church. That concept is completely at odds with the definition of the church and the instruction of Scripture. The church is a body, and this is the work and purpose of the whole body, not just a few individual members.

Prayerfully evaluate where you are in these first three strategic areas and consider how we as a body can better follow the strategies we see in Scripture together.