When our district supervisor, Dave Veach, asked us to leave the church and community we loved passionately in Grays Harbor, Wash., to shepherd a historical, but struggling, church in Seattle, we responded with a simple yes followed by a lot of tears.
My wife, Janell, and I knew that we needed to embrace the people in Seattle as if they were our people. We also knew that we were on an assignment to see Seattle conform to the gospel instead of adapting our message to Seattle.
Our position was like Paul when he walked into the sexually perverse town of Corinth and transformed it with the message of Jesus, rather than Corinth’s perversion shaping the gospel he preached. The risk was very apparent: Seattle is known for its perversion, passive-aggressive behavior and rugged individualism.
Living Way (Seattle Foursquare Church), our church in Seattle, was about to turn 76 years old. We were the 19th pastors, and it had seen days of prosperity and of deep pain. Any pastor in transition is acquainted with tears comingled with the prayers of faith. The first thing I did in transition was to hear the prayers of the people.
In Seattle, that was around tables and in the weekly prayer meeting led by our 80-year-old prayer pastor, Gloria Kinney. The prayer meeting at Living Way was the most vital part of the church when we were appointed to serve this church family. We believe that prayer is the blood of the church. If the prayers of the saints are healthy, the future of the local church is bright.
In one of our prayer meetings, Gloria came with a prophetic word out of Genesis 26, in which Isaac redug the wells that his father, Abraham, had dug. I knew it was a word for our church. I went to the leadership team, our council, our missionaries in the Czech Republic and older saints who had served our church family and asked them a simple question: “What are the 'wells' of Living Way?”
We knew that every church had general commands from the Lord, such as making disciples, baptizing saints, seeing folks baptized with the Spirit and planting churches. Those are general “wells” that we expect in every Foursquare church, but we have also found specific wells for our church family in Seattle. Through the years, wells were dug, at times filled in by the enemy and then redug when a new generation began to cry out to the Lord. For the next year, prayer meetings were set aside with the theme of “Opening the Wells.”
One of the ancient wells at our church was raising and releasing leaders. No matter the pastor or leadership team, there was always a high number of leaders being developed and sent through our church. At that point no church planters, missionaries, short-term teams or even leaders had been intentionally sent for the kingdom’s advance for a decade. We recognized that well needed to be cleared of debris and restored. Today we are actively raising a healthy group of leaders to be sent as missionaries into our needy city and around the globe, as the Lord directs.
What we did was simple: We heard, we agreed with heaven, and we prayed. Now we are experiencing the benefits of living by a clear and clean well.
- Consider that word from Genesis 26 for your own congregation and town.
- What are the wells that have been dug in your church?
- Are those wells clear of debris, or do they need to be redug How can you help provide Living Water for your church and community?
Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.