Editor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren and his staff in conjunction with his new book, What on Earth Am I Here For? Warren is the guest editor for Charisma’s Ministry Today magazine for its January/February issue.
A worshiping church won’t just happen. It starts with a leader who places a high value on personal worship.
I remember only two things about my college biology class: the broken clock that hung on the wall behind my professor’s desk and this definition of culture: “A colony of microorganisms or cells grown in a specially prepared nourishing environment.” Sounds like the church, doesn’t it? Each congregation is a colony—an outpost of the kingdom (to mix metaphors)—that is grown in a specially prepared, nourishing environment.
Here’s another definition of culture; this one from my sociology class (which, by the way, also had a broken clock hanging behind the professor’s desk): “The values, beliefs, ideas, customs, skills, arts and traditions of a people that are passed along to succeeding generations.”
That sounds like the church, too.
The end-time role of the praying and worshipping church
Right now, all across the earth, the Holy Spirit is raising up a worship-based prayer movement that will culminate in the second coming of our King, Jesus. This isn’t a new idea, but one rooted in history and, more importantly, in the Bible. This prayer and worship movement that we see exploding across the planet was prophesied many years ago, as recorded in the Scriptures. I believe that what we’re witnessing today, with the rapidly growing worldwide prayer and worship movement, is the beginning of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about the end times.
This conviction that God is raising up a worldwide prayer movement that will precede Jesus’ return has strengthened my resolve to build a 24/7 worship community. We started on May 7, 1999, and for the last 12 years the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City (IHOP-KC), consisting of full-time missionaries who serve as worship leaders, singers, musicians and intercessors, has continued nonstop in worship and prayer. Our hearts are set on gathering corporately to worship Jesus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Partnering with Him in intercession, we contend for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the release of justice, both in our own city and in the cities of the earth. What started with 20 full-time missionaries has grown to more than 1,000 full-time staff and 1,000 students and interns in our Bible school.
A strategy for turning men into a driving force behind your church’s mission
Most pastors dream of having a strong and vibrant men’s community that drives the mission and vision of their local churches. But this dream rarely becomes a reality because most churches have no compelling vision for men that is articulated, visible and connected to a meaningful process in the church context.
So it’s no surprise that men remain affiliated versus activated in the local church. This sad reality is on the church, not on the men. Men like clear targets they can hit—but the church hasn’t painted the target!
On the flip side, it is possible to have strong vision, a defined process that helps men see the vision, and solid outcomes that make men stakeholders in the ongoing success of the church’s mission. Men long for that kind of significance!
As a pastor, you set the tone for true corporate worship.
Every pastor wants to raise up a group of people who God considers true worshipers. Jesus defined these people in John 4:23 as those who "worship the Father in spirit and truth." He even added that these are the ones after whom the Father seeks.
We have the chance to cultivate these kinds of worshipers every Sunday in our services by how we lead. Whether you are a senior pastor or a worship leader, you serve as a model for true worship. You play a key role in creating an environment that is conducive to the moving of God's Spirit. To excel at both of these requires some understanding of what I believe are fundamental principles of congregational worship.
• "Worship time" is not a setup for the sermon. If we're not careful we can develop a dangerous mind-set that believes the praise and worship part of a service functions merely to prepare the congregation for the preaching. Though preparing people for the message can certainly be one benefit of a good "worship time" (and I use that term begrudgingly), it must not be its primary purpose.
How is a guy supposed to pray? These five prayers are simple, and they always get results!
Prayer is tough for men. We like to have the answers before we talk, even to God. We are not much for "processing out loud" like our female counterparts. And we don't like to get turned down, discovering that what we were asking for was not in the will of God. It's not that we get mad at God, but we think, How could we not have known that?
On the other (folded) hand, we don't want a wimpy prayer life that is so general we can't tell whether it was God who answered, or it was just a good bet on our parts. Safe prayers are like bikes with training wheels: We think we are being grown-up in our faith, when we are really immature.
Immature faith doesn't want to risk a fall so it only prays prayers that (in the flesh) have a good chance of success without God's intervention. Success may even rest on some human device.
There has been much that has occurred in this season that could cause our hearts to faint, and fear seems to be on the horizon each day of our lives. However, we must continue to persevere in faith, knowing that God is in complete control at all times. Though lawlessness appears to prevail at times, we are given grace to persist and develop our faith in God. Our Lord is the God of Light and He will light our pathway which continually leads to life. Let us recall a few Scriptures that give us hope in this season.
James 1:16-18 reminds us that the Father of heavenly lights gives only good and perfect gifts and that He is the God of truth:
"Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created" (NIV, with emphasis).