Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Morning in North Georgia: The Audacity to Pray


Originally sent by North Georgia Annual Conference in Monday Mornings 
By Phil Schroeder

My brother and I showed up early for church. We crossed the threshold into the narthex. We could see that no one was sitting in the sanctuary. The greeter at the front door handed us a bulletin and asked us not to enter yet. We could see a group of people gathered in a circle at the front of the room with their heads bowed in prayer. She explained, “That’s our worship team, and they are praying for you.”

They were praying for the people God was sending to worship there that day. I wonder how many churches actually list that on their prayer concerns: The people God will be sending us in 2015.

Maybe that is a habit we all need to take up for the New Year. “Lord, thank you in advance for those you might be nudging to visit church this week. May our welcome be worthy of your trust. Help us to not wait for them to come to us, but to meet them where they are . . .”

Don’t get me wrong.  After spending countless hours in the hospital and rehab with my mother this past year, I am thankful for local church prayer lists. But . . .how many prayer lists have the audacity to pray in advance for what God is about to do?

At the beginning of 2014 the young church we visited that day did not have a place to worship. They had been steadily growing in a rented space, but needed to find a more permanent home. We began praying for God to lead them to the right location.  Numerous site visits were made to warehouses and other church facilities.  Then, the Martha Brown United Methodist Church in East Atlanta began having discussions about opening their doors to this young “homeless” church.  Under the guidance of their District Superintendent, Sharma Lewis, and their pastor, Alvin Lingenfelter, the vast majority of the 27 members of Martha Brown voted to merge with and welcome this new church into their beautiful, historic facility.

Yet, long before any of this was even considered, this new church had changed its name from Oakhurst Church to Eastside Church. Who knew they would choose the perfect name for a move to East Atlanta? Isn’t God’s “about to do” simply amazing?

There were about 60 people at that early service as the pews filled up with young people from East Atlanta and beyond. We were warmly greeted despite our attire. (Go Steelers!)

We are thankful for what God has done and is yet to do in that place. Send someone to visit soon! They are already being prayed for in advance.

Rev. Dr. Phil Schroeder is Director of Congregational Development for the North Georgia Conference. You may contact him at pschroeder@ngumc.org.