What every Pastor/Planter wishes you knew...
ICM has just hosted ‘Entrusted.’ This gathering was an exciting time to hear about ministries happening currently, as well as a chance to meet new ICM church planters. Perhaps some of these new ‘planting families’ are good friends of yours? Or perhaps ICM’s existing gospel workers are well known to you? Are you ready to do your part in supporting the ICM team? That’s right, we, as friends and supporters, have a big role to play!
Paul writes to his friends in Philippi that he always prays for them with joy because of their partnership in the gospel (Phil 1:4-5). Paul had individuals and churches throughout his missionary journeys that he knew he could depend on for support and encouragement. Paul was not a lone wolf in his ministry and neither are our ICM friends. From Paul’s example, here are four ways we too can partner with ICM: pray, encourage, visit and give.
We will begin with a look at prayer. Prayer is the greatest need our ICM friends will ever have in their ministries. Do we understand how important it is that we persevere on their behalf? Do we know how to pray for our gospel workers? Let’s consider two thoughts when praying for ICM.
One group of unsung heroes from WW2 were the American Merchant Marines. These unarmed volunteers ran supplies from the United States to the beleaguered Allies in England during the early stages of the war, when the fall of Great Britain seemed imminent and the U.S had not yet joined the war. They boldly risked their lives to evade hidden u-boats so that Allied troops would receive what they needed, where it was needed.
I wonder if our prayers as supporters would become more tireless and determined if we realised that we have a vital role to play in interceding for our church planters. Like those Merchant Marines running supplies to the front lines, are we running prayers to our Heavenly Father asking that these workers receive what they need spiritually, when and where it is needed? Or do we simply utter a half hearted, “bless them in their work” and get on with life?
Paul repeatedly asked his fellow believers to pray for him and those working with him. Jesus admonished the disciples for sleeping instead of standing watch with Him in His hour of need. We too are called to pray in such a manner. We must keep ourselves informed so that we know where to intercede. What do we know about ICM’s present goals? What do we know about the communities these new planters are going into? What do we know of the opposition they may face? It isn’t just the gospel worker who needs to do their research!
If Biblical illiteracy is at an all time high in the church today, then it is safe to say our ability to pray effectively is at an all time low. We are not spending enough time in God’s Word learning how to talk to him. Thankfully for us, it takes no time at all, once we do open our Bibles to discover how to pray. We can take apart any passage we are reading, consider its meaning, and pray to God in response to what we’ve read. In terms of our ICM partners, we can direct that response to encompass them and their work. Better still, we can pray out the very prayers written in Scripture on behalf of our friends. Look at the Psalms, the prayers of Paul or the prayers of our Lord Jesus. For instance, go read the prayer Jesus prayed in John 17:20-26. Pray it for the budding congregation your church planter will soon be nurturing. Praying scripturally quickly turns our eyes from our small, vague and inward thoughts to those that truly acknowledge our great Father. It teaches us to seek what pleases him in building his kingdom.
In all his prayers, Paul always prayed knowing that the Lord would answer. Perhaps God didn’t always answer the way Paul anticipated, but his prayers underline a sure confidence that he is being heard. In our prayers for ICM, let us remember that we speak to a loving Father, who hears us. With that reminder, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess 5:16-18)