LIGHTHOUSES OF PRAYER
The next day the third pastors' prayer summit was held at a nearby retreat center. There was a great sense of anticipation among the pastors. After the day of prayer together, one of the ministers was asked to share a testimony.
He had recently returned from the International Conference on Prayer and Evangelism in Argentina, hosted by Ed Silvoso and Harvest Evangelism. The concept of a city church was explained: one church with many congregations. He described how the strategy of neighborhood Lighthouses of Prayer had prepared the spiritual atmosphere for taking the city of Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Perhaps most important was the idea that pastors are the spiritual gatekeepers of a city. They would not give evidence to the love of Jesus until they loved their city as much as they loved their own congregations. In God's eyes, they were not only shepherds of their own congregations, but were first and foremost the spiritual shepherds--co-pastors and elders--of Lubbock.
Pastors from divergent backgrounds laid hands on one another and prayed. Something was imparted that evening beyond the information shared. The suggestion was made that the group recognize their call by ordaining one another as co-pastors of the city of Lubbock. In response, the pastors knelt individually as the others laid hands on them and prayed. That night a conception of sorts took place as the body of Christ in Lubbock was impregnated with something entirely new.
The name "Pray Lubbock" was adopted to identify the cooperative prayer efforts in the city. In the next few months other pastors and churches were recruited in an effort to establish Lighthouses of Prayer across the city. An initial goal of 1,000 lighthouses was set.
By the first week in March, Pray Lubbock was prepared to ask pastors to come together to commission the neighborhood Lighthouses of Prayer. Pastor Ted Haggard was invited from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He spent three days in the city, meeting with pastors and leaders and finally keynoting the Lighthouse commissioning service on Friday night.
Twenty congregations came together. The downtown flagship Church of Christ hosted the event in their sanctuary, where more than 1,000 people from 20 congregations gathered to worship the Lord and thank Him for what He was doing in Lubbock. At the end of the service, the pastors stood at the front of the sanctuary and raised their hands over the crowd. The congregation raised their hands in recognition of their receiving an impartation of the spirit of intercession. It was a historic event in the city--that night the Church of Lubbock was born.
KEEPING THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING
In the last year, special gatherings for intercessors and other prayer events have been planned, though Pray Lubbock has fought the tendency to be event driven. Because of the tragedy at Columbine High School, organizers scheduled a prayer rally early in the school year to cover with a shield of prayer children, schools, teachers and others involved in education .
The "Cover the Kids" rally greatly encouraged school officials, teachers and parents. Coordinating with existing ministries, the event gave a significant boost to the local Moms in Touch prayer ministry, setting in motion an increase in ongoing prayer for schools across the community.
In the fall, the ministry team of Pray Lubbock set aside two days for a prayer retreat. They sought direction from the Lord for the coming year. Two things became clear to the team: First, the Lord wanted them to keep prayer central to all they would do, keeping the focus of that prayer on the spiritual transformation of the community. They would hold the vision of city-reaching before the various pastors and congregations. Second, the Lord confirmed the importance of the relationships fostered in the atmosphere of prayer.
They pray more than they talk. During the first year of Pray Lubbock, the nine members of the ministry team have met together from two to four times each month. While there has always been much to discuss, the team has determined to guard their prayer time. The guiding principle they have established is to pray more than they talk. If they find themselves devoting more time to discussing an item of business than they have spent in prayer for it, they cease the discussion and go back to prayer.
In this atmosphere of prayer, nine strong friendships have emerged. Even though the additional time demands of Pray Lubbock are significant, the love and fellowship that the team shares among its participants has become an important personal benefit to each person. As difficult as it may be to carve out the additional meeting time, each member genuinely looks forward to their gathering together.
Realizing the important benefit of their relationships, the team asked the Lord how this could be extended to other pastors in the city as well. They spent time during their prayer retreat seeking direction in this specific area. As a result, each of the nine men prayerfully selected from six to 10 other pastors in the city who had become involved with Pray Lubbock in the last year, and formed their own groups.
The team has given up one of its own gatherings each month in order to accommodate meeting time for these newly formed groups. Their sole purpose is to foster relationships in the environment of prayer.
Pastors' luncheons have also begun. These gatherings meet at a different church each month immediately following the monthly pastors' prayer meetings. The dual purpose is to keep the regular monthly prayer time focused on prayer alone while allowing additional time to build relationships among pastors of the city.
Different churches host the luncheon each month. The final 10 minutes of the lunch time are used by the ministry team to teach one of the concepts involved in city transformation. A different concept is briefly covered each month, such as prayer walking, spiritual mapping, the city church or spiritual strongholds. This helps keep the vision before the city pastors fresh and allows a forum for drawing in new pastors who have just come on board with the local prayer movement.
The fourth pastors' prayer summit was held this last November with twice as many ministers in attendance than before. The focus was the characteristics of city transformation. The decision was made to begin to have two prayer summits per year, in the fall and spring.