Two Month Progress Report - Pastor Jerry Carter - September 5, 2018

Part 1 of 3

During my couple months at Richland Naz my first priority has been meeting people. To chat and laugh, but also to share stories and journeys. By way of these conversations and the inevitable evolving of my understanding of what God might want to do through Richland Nazarene, I am consistently drawn to three key areas in possible need of focus.
In today's post I will address the first key area. Parts II and III covering the second two key areas will follow.
1. We need a strong, biblical understanding of the power and purpose of prayer. Nothing will happen without this foundation. 
My first priority is prayer. To this end, my first message series has dealt with prayer. Together we have discovered that God loves to give good gifts but God loves, even more, giving the gift of the Holy Spirit. By way of the Holy Spirit our joy is made complete when we first seek His will and then trust Him to give us only His best. Even in times of suffering and sorrow, we trust the Refiner’s Fire to make us more Christ-like.
An easy and inaccurate next statement would be, “so, we need to beef up our prayer ministry.”
I don’t say “we need to beef up,” because I see in Richland Nazarene a people who understand biblical prayer, love to pray, have prayed great prayers for great things, and are now searching for a new passion and a new vision to lift up to our Heavenly Father.  
Longer, beefier prayers might not be needed as much as more church-wide, all-inclusive, hyper-focused prayers consistently zeroed in a list of 4 or 5 individuals in our lives who need Jesus. In the unity of the Spirit, our prayers can then be brought to bear on the classes, groups, ministries, and events of His Bride (Richland Nazarene) to empower, guide, and assist you in reaching your friends who don’t know Jesus. That’s why Richland Nazarene exists.
Nor do I say, “prayer ministry” as that would imply prayer is just one of several ministries from which to choose to participate. Somewhat like having an “outreach” ministry or program in the church. Outreach is the reason the church exists. It isn’t an optional “add-on” ministry or program. Outreach isn’t a file in a folder called church; it’s the folder!
In the same way, prayer is the life-blood of the church that always reaches out. It can’t help it. Prayer compels and fuels it. If a lost-centric prayer life doesn’t permeate every part of the church, the church will not reach out and it will die. Prayer is not a supplement or “healthy choice.”  It's the only choice.  Spoiler Alert: If prayer isn’t your only choice now, it will be after reading Part III of this series! 
Next Two Posts…
Part II. We need to “clean house” by… 
       a. addressing programming complexity/confusion in order to clarify spiritual Next Steps
       b. providing strategic, graduated purpose for each spiritual Next Step
       c. re-envisioning or re-imagining low impact/competing programs
Part III. We need to challenge/leverage every ministry, class, or group towards outreach/evangelism by discovering the power of Cheap, Easy & Fun, and Repeatable, Relational, & Joinable.