For years International Renewal Ministries has had the desire to have the pastors who have been blessed at a Prayer Summit take the summit back to their congregations. By this we mean that they would both lead their congregations in a 3-4 day Prayer Summit and also that they would build ‘summit-style prayer’ into various aspects of their congregation. We assumed this would be an intuitive process. Some pastors have done this in a variety of ways. But the Lord recently indicated to us that we should not assume this, we should be intentional about it. With this in mind, the following information is written for those who have been to at least one Prayer Summit and would like to begin to lead their congregations in Congregational Prayer Summits.
What is a Congregational Prayer Summit?
A Congregational Prayer Summit is an extended, multi-day, life-changing worship experience attended by portions of a congregation whose sole purpose is to seek God, His kingdom, and His righteousness with the expectation that He will create and guide them through a humbling, healing, uniting process that will lead them to a unity of heart mind and mission and will qualify them for the blessing of God.
It is a time when we come with a great desire to seek God, but with no specific script to direct the time. It is a time to be more interested in who God is than what He can do; a time to seek His face more than to seek His hand. It is a time when we can spend prolonged, unhurried time with Him in the midst of His saints. It is a time of Spirit led, worship fed, corporate prayer.
What it is not
There are many worthy things a congregation does. Retreats and conferences have great value. So, would not encourage a congregation to ‘try’ a Prayer Summit as a substitute for another activity. We also encourage you to fight the temptation to do a ‘both/and’ event, trying to do both a Prayer Summit and a leadership retreat or a planning session, etc. at the same time. A Prayer Summit does not seem to work well as an add-on to another plan or agenda. We encourage you to let it be a stand-alone time.
One the other hand, we encourage you to see a Prayer Summit as an integral part of a larger picture. A high quality Prayer Summit is not the goal. More of Jesus in the midst of your congregation and more of our congregation impacting our community are the goals. Prayer Summits have and can led to increased relationship with Jesus and greater desire to pray. It is not the destination, but it can be a very effective, unique, wonderful vehicle to help get you toward those goals. They bring a fresh addition and injection of Jesus’ life into a congregation.
Why do a Congregational Prayer Summit?
Why invest the time and energy into a Congregational Prayer Summit? There are many good reasons.
- It provides the best environment for real congregational impact.
- It provides the best environment for individual and congregational health.
- It provides the best environment for congregational unity.
- It provides the best environment for individual and congregational humility.
- It provides individuals and the congregation an opportunity to spend extended quality time in the presence of a holy God.
- It is the best environment for people to learn corporate prayer.
- It is a way congregational leadership can live out the commitment of Acts 6:4.
- It is an opportunity for the congregation to hear God’s heart for His church together.
- It is an opportunity for the congregation to sense and received God’s passion for His world and how they fit into it.
- It provides an opportunity for both the leaders and the congregation to have a common knowledge and common experience related to prayer.
- It is the closest environment to what we know of NT church life. What happens in our regular Sunday AM services is good, but a Prayer Summit…
- allows Jesus to be at the center and the pastor to facilitate the process of all the people looking at and moving toward Him.
- allows all the people to participate and contribute to the flow of the meeting in a meaningful and significant way.
- allows and encourages the various gifts to be used and appreciated.
- allows and encourages various perspectives to be shared and valued.
- allows for flexibility without preset time constraints.
How to do a Congregational Prayer Summit
IRM would be delighted to help you in this process. The steps below cover many of the areas, but you are encouraged to contact us with any questions you may have. And we would love to know your plans and stories! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- The pastor and the congregational leadership must have a strong commitment and vision for greater impact and impact through prayer.
- Recognize and appreciate the unique value of a Prayer Summit. (Spirit led, worship fed, corporate prayer)
- Begin by praying for God’s specific leadership and follow His directions! He, more than anyone else, wants this time to be very meaningful to His people. The following are helpful suggestions, but seek Him and let Him be the one who gives leadership to your summit.
- Determine the target group for the first summit. There is value in each of the following options A) all congregation B) congregational leadership C) all men. (Note – Because women are generally more responsive, you may want to give the men a bit of a running start!)
- Share the vision (not the method) of greater intimacy with Jesus through Spirit led, worship fed, corporate prayer, etc. with the people.
- Select a person to take care of the logistics (See below). Perhaps he/she would chair a committee.
- Prepare and select facilitators. From a human perspective, this is the most important decision you will face! The quality of the facilitation will greatly affect the quality of the summit experience. Please pray much about this. We encourage the pastor to participate as a facilitator. This is a wonderful opportunity to shepherd and disciple the people in and through prayer. Other facilitators could be either an IRM facilitator, another pastor in your area who has been to a summit, or other congregational leaders the pastor has trained and developed. Please contact us for suggestions (email@example.com).
- The pastor should walk closely with all the people in the planning so that you are on the same page each step of the way.
- Build a team of pray-ers who will pray before, during and after the summit.
- Continually share the vision in many different settings (during individual conversations, in sermons, with the leadership, etc.).
- Continue to pray and prepare your heart for greater intimacy with Jesus.
Some of the logistics in preparing for a Congregational Prayer Summit
Select dates – we strongly encourage you to have at least 2 1/2 days away i.e. Thursday PM through Saturday PM. Please be very cautious about shortening the time to make it more convenient. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
- Select a site – we strongly encourage you to find a place that is far enough away so that people do not come and go. Doing this at your own building looses several dynamics. Make sure the site will suit your needs and desires in both space available and level of comfort. Make sure the contract is complete and signed. Dates, meals, minimum commitment, terms of cancellation, contact person, etc.
- Communication/publicity – how will the word get out to the people? Testimonies are one of the strongest tools you have to use. For the first summit (before you have any of your own testimonies) you can use some from our web site. At the first summit it would be good to give an opportunity for the participants to write out a testimony. Also give opportunity for testimonies to be given before the congregation. Begin building toward the second summit at toward the end of the first summit. If there is life at the first summit, others will know about it before the summits is over.
- Setting the cost – Think through the various additional expenses (scholarships for those in need and for those who serve, bus transportation, coffee and snacks, brochures/posters and other printing costs, any honoraria, etc.) and possible non-registration means of income (special offerings, gifts for scholarships, bake sales, etc.). The goal should be to have the Summit break even. It should not be used as a fundraiser for some other area of ministry, nor should it need to be funded by some other source.
- 5. Registration – Think through the registration process so that it works smoothly for all involved. Gathering email address is valuable. Even in smaller congregations there is value in using nametags. Think through how the money will be handled.
- Materials – Two specific pieces can be very helpful:
- Song books or sheets (either purchased or put together). Arranging the songs in alphabetical order according to the first line allows people to find the song in the easiest manner. We strongly encourage you to follow copyright laws.
- Several pages of helpful material to assist personal times (such as the names or attributes of God or thoughts about pride and humility, a list of scriptures on our identity, the ‘one another’ commands, various topics, etc.). as well as a basic schedule, instructions and guidelines about the summit.
We are very interested and committed to help you have the best summit experience possible. That is why we encourage you to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.