Friends in Christ,
I have invited us to focus on the ministry of church growth over the next year. The first step in this ministry is prayer. I have come to believe prayer keeps us grounded in God and seeking God’s plan for our ministry together. Prayer reminds us to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in everything we do together and reminds us that we are seeking to grow Christ’s church. Our congregation needs to be praying individually and as a collective body as it begins a ministry of church growth, discovers ways of growing spiritually, and connects with the people in our community to share the good news.
According to pastor and researcher Martha Grace Reese, the only way to do ministry successfully is to pray deeply. In her book Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism Reese writes, “Prayer is the way to stay in love with God” (51). When we pray as individuals, in small groups, and as a congregation we open ourselves to God who will direct us, lead us and use us for the things God wants us to do (52). Praying individually and as a congregation allows the church to discern God’s will and enables God to use our prayers and actions to accomplish God’s work in the congregation and in the larger community.
I love Reese’s image of active prayer, “Prayer isn’t some sweet, nice, safe, naïve little activity to do in your flowery hat. It is crash helmet action for people who flip kayaks in raging spring rivers” (53). We need to put on our crash helmets because when you pray deeply you never know where God will lead us. So, I invite us to put on our crash helmets and start praying, praying deeply! I am asking our committees, groups, Sunday School classes and worshipping congregation to pray for our faith community as we reflect on and discern ways to expand our relationship with God in Jesus Christ, one another and the people in our community.
Holy and loving God, the world and the community around us is changing. We know that change can be scary, and that change can energize us to faithfully follow where you are leading us. We are ready to put on our crash helmets. Please help us put aside our fear and listen deeply to your Holy Spirit as we move forward into the plans you have for us as a congregation. Amen.
Blessings on the journey,
Pastor Monica (with her crash helmet on)
 Martha Reese, Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism. 2nd ed. (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2008), 42.