Connecting Churches to Kindle Spiritual Fire
Has COVID dampened the shared spiritual energy of your church? Are your prayer gatherings few and small? Connecting American and immigrant churches for prayer can be one step toward renewing spiritual zeal.
Kindling shared spiritual passion is the first of 7 keys for cultivating powerful relationships between American and immigrant churches. In upcoming blogs we will unpack all 7 keys.
The first thing two churches should consider when forming a connection isn’t finding a meeting place, but finding a shared passion for Christ. Jesus didn’t build the Church so she can have budgets, buildings and systems. He built her so believers can worship and serve the Father corporately. When Jesus prayed in John 17:21 “That they may all be one,” he wasn’t just praying for unity among Pentecostals, Baptists, Nigerians or Brazilians. His prayer was “That they may all be one”. Churches best demonstrate that unity when they share not only facilities, but also relationships, ministries—and spiritual passion.
American and immigrant churches have much spiritual zeal to share with one another. Even before the pandemic, most American prayer movements were few, brief and sparsely attended. Joint prayer among American Christians is in desperate need of a jump-start.
Immigrant Christians can be wonderful role models here. Their prayer gatherings are frequent, longer (sometimes overnight!), passionate and may involve fasting. In a few cases Americans may find their prayers too loud or emotional, but if we can look past the cultural differences we will experience brothers and sisters who have a deep, passionate dependence on God for everyday living.
While most American churches need greater zeal for prayer, most conservative churches have a deep love for the Word of God. It amazes me how many members of the average American church have theological training. During my years in China and other Asian countries, I found few places that were as richly blessed with such biblical knowledge. Theological maturity is a precious gift that should be shared with others.
In addition to prayer and the Word, other areas where churches can learn spiritual passion from each other are family, friendships, caring for the needy, sharing the gospel and more.
If you are at the beginning stages of forming a connection with a sister church, meet together for fellowship and prayer. It’s natural to begin discussing facilities at this point, but it shouldn’t be your primary consideration. Visit each other’s services. Share meals together. Ask whether you like one another (yes, it’s OK to not be equally attracted to friendship with everyone) and would enjoy spending time together. This will help determine if God is calling you to serve together.
Many churches have established connections that go no further than the sharing of facilities. I refer to these as “roommate” relationships. Some American churches share their facilities as an act of generosity, others out of economic necessity. This isn’t bad. Sharing facilities makes a meaningful contribution to the Kingdom.
If you are in a “roommate” situation, consider some actions to move your relationship to the next level. Take your fellow pastor to a meal or coffee together. Listen to his heart. Ask about his family and his dreams for the upcoming year regarding children, youth, evangelism and community service. Ask yourself how your church might walk alongside him in those dreams. Don’t jump in all at once. Identify 1 or 2 areas most likely to gain traction, and give them your best effort. As you earn trust and respect, you will also earn friendship.
Honoring everyone’s busy schedules, find brief but regular times to pray for one another. Cherish spiritual passion that is shared both within your own church and between your churches. Claim the promise of James 4:8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” God treasures the worship of his people. He especially treasures it when his people worship and serve across cultural and language barriers.
May God use the connection of your churches to edify your congregations and glorify Himself!