Providing Spiritual Direction
March 1, 2013
All three church planters cited the importance of prayer. Mark, particularly, made mention of prayer as it relates to building relationships. He recognized that many residents in the community are in need of prayer. He realized that most knew of no avenue to access the power of God. So, he and his team would offer to pray for those separated from God. Growing church planters should be taught that prayer is a needed commodity. They should practice praying for those they meet regularly. This has added benefit when it is possible to pray with the new contact. Hearing someone pray to God specifically for them provides encouragement and hope. It also enables further contact to learn about answers. Then, thanksgiving and praise or renewed supplication can take place.
Bible study is another way to provide spiritual direction in developing relationships. Most people have little understanding about what the Bible says. Some are open to reading and learning about the Bible when the opportunity is offered. Presenting applicable truth in nonthreatening ways will help people know God’s will and enable them to live accordingly. This is another great way to incorporate friends of the new contact. As they begin to learn about God, they often want to invite friends to study with them. Mark relates an encouraging story about Bible study:
“I will tell you about this one street. This is where we had our street camp. When we first started having services, one of the ladies from that block started attending the church. And then she told everybody on the block about the church and people started coming. The thing about this block is most of them are in government subsidized housing and rentals and a lot of them are also struggling with their own issues. I started visiting with the people there and started having Bible study there. Sometimes it was just me and the lady and the other pastor. And then from time to time there would be other people. Then down the road they started coming regular.”
Urban church planters can provide spiritual direction within growing relationships
through prayer, Bible study, and preaching that connects with people. When a newly formed church begins to hold services where God’s word is preached, quality exegesis must be coupled with effective communication that enables hearers to clearly understand and apply the truth. There is no room for shoddy preaching. Diligent study and contextualized messages must address the people in the community. Urban church planters must be great listeners that discern the needs of the neighborhood. And, they must be capable theologians who can share God’s word in a way that connects. Those preparing to be urban church planters should develop missional skill in theology and cultural anthropology.
“I try as much as possible to connect with the lives of people that I am meeting on the Street. They might not necessarily be the people that come to church. [But] because I have a relationship with them and with the community, I want to try to speak to the community rather than just to Christians. So yeah, I try to have consultation with people that I am meeting with as well as with the people in the congregation.”
Urban church planters make contacts and develop relationships so they can share the gospel with their new friends.
Another way to provide spiritual direction for new friends is to include them in ministry. Urban church planters need not wait for perfection to employ willing servants. Releasing growing neighbors to serve with the church helps them grow in their relationship with the Lord. These ministries provide further teaching opportunities and encourage some toward leadership. Mark tells a story about a young woman at his church. “She came because one of the kids wanted to get baptized... She would mention she would like to come because she would like to sing. So when she started coming a few times we asked her to sing with us. She has been singing with us for three weeks now.”