Forward Today: Ministry, Not Maintenance

In this week’s newsletter, Scott reaches us from Tennessee, where he’s attending the Leader’s Heart conference at St. John’s, Memphis. Here’s Scott on how the conference has inspired important reflections on the role of prayer in church leadership:

Dear friends in Christ,

I am writing this week’s Forward Today at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Memphis, TN, where I’ve come to attend a conference called The Leader’s Heart. Sponsored by St. John’s and Forward Movement’s own RenewalWorks ministry, the conference is focused on how church leaders can help create a culture of discipleship where they serve.

Yesterday, the Rev. Jay Sidebotham began our time together with a Bible study on Philippians 1, in which St. Paul makes it clear that his leadership is infused with prayer. He prays for those he serves, and it is clear that they pray for him.

Everything begins, continues, and ends with prayer.

Too many Episcopal congregations are places of maintenance and preservation, not transformational ministry. I have to wonder how the hearts of our leaders might be changed, and what might happen if our leaders’ hearts came alive with the Spirit. As I speak with clergy, I often hear weariness and a sense that they’re being ground down by the tasks of running a complex organization. But that’s not how it was meant to be. In Acts 6, when the twelve apostles called deacons, it was so the twelve could “devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” The twelve knew they needed more time to pray.

If you are a church leader, are you making enough time to pray? Are you asking those whom you serve to pray for you? If you are a member of a congregation, are you praying for your leaders daily? What can you do to help them have more time in prayer?

I’m still working all this out in my own life, but I do know that when I spend more time in prayer, it is always a blessing. Now, pardon me, I have to go say some prayers.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

To get future reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.