How churches and pastors praying together can unite a city for Christ
"If what you say is true, then what you are experiencing in Lubbock, [Texas], is nothing less than a miracle!" The reunion of two friends, one ministering in Austin, Texas, and the other in Lubbock, came at a prayer gathering in the state capital last fall. The two had worked together on the same church staff in Lubbock more than 20 years before. Both were now serving as senior pastors of new churches that had been established since those early days in west Texas.
The story of what the Lord had been doing in Lubbock was almost unbelievable. Twenty years earlier the city was known as a "city of churches," with a different congregation staking its claim on every other street corner.
Suspicion among churches was the norm. The attitudes of one congregation for another--often even within the same denomination--ranged from ambivalence to outright mistrust. If they did not actually view one another as the enemy, they were at least "the competition."
Churches viewed each other as nothing more than obstacles to be overcome as each congregation battled to carve out its own empire. And empires they were, with the largest Baptist, Methodist and Church of Christ congregations in the nation making Lubbock their home.
But in the last four years something phenomenal has taken place. A vibrant and growing prayer movement is penetrating the city, changing the hearts of Christian leaders, instilling a refreshing hope in the hearts of laymen and leaving in its wake a new kind of church.
The church that is emerging in Lubbock is a city-church, which rallies around a shared devotion to Jesus Christ. It is a church that has awakened with a kingdom vision--a vision greater than any single congregation.
Busily preparing the way of the Lord through fervent, prevailing prayer, believers in the city are truly beginning to love one another regardless of denominational labels or ecclesiastical preferences. The citywide movement is such a departure from the past that city officials, educators, journalists and outside observers are beginning to take notice. The story of how God is bringing these things to pass in this most unlikely of places can be told by the milestones along the pathway to prayer in the city.
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
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