This is my town, the town I feel God called us to be in. These are the streets to my town, the streets we’ve been called to minister to.
We can preach, teach, and entertain. We can speak, shake hands, and advertise. We can connect, wave to passersby, smile big. But without prayer, these things are useless. Prayer changes things.
About 6 weeks ago I attended a retreat for ministers’ wives. The speaker spoke of her passion for her town, and her passion for fitness. She combined the two by running the streets of her town and praying over every house. This struck a chord with me. Although I don’t believe every idea works for every person, I felt this one was being spoken directly to me. I can’t run. But I have a bike! My town may not be a metropolis, but for an overweight lady with a standard bike (no gears for those uphill battles) my small town was a challenge just for me.
I set out to bike every street in my town, to pray over every house within the city limits of my town. I set my Pandora station to a collection of worship stations, and went to town on prayer for my city. The time and distance were VERY enlightening.
3 weeks, 75.2 Miles, 15:59 hours, and 10,736 calories later I learned so much about how God wants to use Crossroads Church in this community. Although some of those things are still in the works and I’ll update the successes as they come, let me share with you some general insights I gained.
I was so gung-ho about tackling my challenge, but finding the time to fit into my current life was a struggle. I had to make sacrifices. I had to ask my husband to understand my desires and ask him for help. He would often (ok, almost always) clean up after dinner so I could go out and bike. Or he’d put the kids to bed for me. And often times I missed my favorite tv show to be out praying over my town. Ministry takes sacrifices at times. We may miss things from time to time. I’m not saying we should neglect the important things in our lives (family), but to make sacrifices to our comfort, our routine… to prioritize. And I had to ask for help in order to do it. I had to realize I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t take my kids along, I couldn’t leave them home alone. I couldn’t neglect my responsibilities, but I could ask for help.
I set a goal to complete this challenge. But it rained… a lot! I learned to leave God in charge and to do what I could do, and let Him take care of the rest. The purpose for ministry isn’t to get OUR results, but to get HIS. To wait out the storms, and keep praying.
When I dawdled, I’d leave my house late. Even though I had a clear path set out for me, when I hesitated (tried to get more done before leaving), I’d be biking in the dark. Small town or not, cars speeding by a slow biker in the dark is scary. STAY IN THE LIGHT! don’t wander from His light. Ministry is safer in the light. *by this I mean, following His will for your ministry. When we veer, we lose His light, and that is a scary place to be!
There are HILLS! For every down hill, wind blowing in my hair, experience, there is a hill to climb. Sometimes I thought I’d have to get off my bike and walk it up a hill. I am so thankful I didn’t have to do that (*tip: count. I’d count my pedaling to get myself up those steep hills… with no gears on my bike!). Ministry has some STEEP hills. and although the fast pace, joyful wind in my face downhill ride was more relaxing, fun, and easier… the hills were going to come. It’s not always easy. Ministry can be hard! Pedal fast (pray hard) during the downhill times, and you’ll find yourself half way up the hill before the pain sets in… and do it often enough and those hills won’t seem so big anymore.
Speaking of hills. There were times when I could have grumbled that I didn’t have a bike with the neat-o gears that would help me up those hills. But I was reminded that God doesn’t call us based on the equipment we have. He equips us where we are. Our church is small, our resources are limited. But we won’t let that hold us back! Ministry can be just as effective regardless of the equipment you have. God is all you NEED. So thankful for the bike (given to me), I’ll use what I have and keep trekking forward.
Ministry is worth it even if we only reach ONE! I prayed I’d go the distance for ONE family… For ONE mother… for ONE child… for ONE lost soul. This particular route led me to switch directions and I found 5 more homes to pray over. They may not have met the “inside the city limits” , but they were houses that I just couldn’t pass up. ONE may eventually lead to many… go the distance!
I completed this task about 10 days ago. And my first couple of bike rides following felt meaningless. I didn’t know which way to turn, what path to take, or if I was motivated enough to finish out a worthy workout. I pray that is the case with our ministry. That without a purpose, I feel lost. That that will motivate me to stay focused on what God’s purpose is for the ministry. Doing church for the sake of doing church is meaningless. We can preach, teach, and entertain. We can speak, shake hands, and advertise. We can connect, wave to a passerby, smile big. But without purpose, these things are useless. Prayer changes things, it gives us purpose. What is God’s purpose for your ministry. You don’t have to be a pastor (or pastor’s wife) to have a ministry. What is God calling you to do?
I pray we see something big come from saturating this town in prayer. We plan on hitting the streets soon, and I pray I can share some wonderful praise reports soon. Until then… pedal on, ministers!