By Margaret Martin
Prayer is not just important, it is central to ECC’s ability to do the Kingdom work God has called us to as a faith community. Over the past two years, ECC has been pursuing vitality in a desire to move from a stable church to a healthy missional church. Throughout this time, a prayer team, known as the Pervasive Prayer Team, has been meeting to bathe the process in prayer. However, pervasive prayer is more than a small group of people gathering bi-weekly. Pervasive prayer is a process that the entire congregation engages in. This means you are needed for pervasive prayer to exist at ECC.
While working together, the Vitality Team began to experience the mysterious connection between prayer and our ability to understand and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. This process of learning how God can speak to us in a small group setting and as a church has been exciting. Our faith walk has become less academic and more vibrant. No one who has experienced a meeting infused with Holy-Spirit energy could ever be content with church business as usual. We experienced firsthand a guiding principle of Congregational Vitality. “Without the movement and blessing of God, all we are doing is running in place without really getting anywhere. Fruit is human activity touched by the Holy Spirit.”
The Ministry Planning Team is now continuing the work begun by the Vitality Team, with the goal of developing an actionable ministry plan. This goal, however, does not simply involve planning. It also includes learning how to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit in the planning process. For, as Richard Foster writes, “We cannot do the work of the Spirit in the power of the flesh.”
This team is made up of about a dozen gifted people, each of whom is committed to our church and to serving God. While a stable church has a tendency to be self-sufficient in the planning process, to become a healthy missional church this team has the more challenging task of collaborating with the Holy Spirit to develop a plan that aligns our resources with God’s purposes for this church, for this time.
We recognize that there are spiritual forces of evil working against congregational vitality. We will experience opposition. Our victory is always, and only, in the powerful name of Jesus. As a congregation, we are called to cry out for God’s anointing. We are called to ask God for wisdom and guidance in discerning how He is already at work in and through His church and where He leading us. We are called to dedicate ourselves and align our resources with God and his mission. We are called to pray together as a body of believers.
The boots-on-the-ground work of this next step into congregational vitality has been entrusted to the Ministry Planning Team, but for this work to be fruitful and to move in the direction the Holy Spirit is leading, the team must be covered by prayer. They can’t do this for the church. They must do this with the church.
Even now, the Holy Spirit is stirring the hearts of people; both newcomers and long-time congregants. He is bringing together just the right mix of gifts needed for us to move forward together into the kingdom work that He has called us to, and positioned us for. Not one gift is missing. Each person is important to this task. The stage is set. The Ministry Planning Team is in place (They are: Todd Cogswell, Karen Dolk, Megan Gobrogge, Kurt Kincanon, Stacey Littlefield, Greg Louk, Margaret Martin, Jorden Meyers, Shirley Pence, Linda Reno, Ron Smith, Scott Warner, and Judy Yost).
The Pervasive Prayer team is well established and pouring prayer over the process. There is room for you to be involved. God is moving in this ECC family, and we each have a part to play.