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Leading a Church in the Twenty-first Century: An International Perspective

Leading the Church in the Twenty-first Century

Prayer and fasting was the distinguishing mark of the Pentecostal church; that is no more the case.6 The Pentecostal movement was born in prayer and fasting. At Azusa Street, there were all night prayer meetings, all day prayer meetings and twenty four hour prayer meetings. As the movement grew, Tuesdays and Fridays were set apart for praying and fasting—but over time, prayer and fasting declined. Today prayer and fasting may take place one day per week (for part of the day).7

We have substituted prayer and fasting for programs, praise and worship, education, expensive church buildings, TV programs. But none of these have produced church growth. Only a small percentage of churches are growing; church growth is now mainly transfer growth.

One of the many things I have observed from the third world is that a growing church is a praying and fasting church. When the church in the third world wants to plant churches in any particular area they don’t read a book on church growth but they go to the Lord in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit for directions, and He always directs the church. I have seen this first hand many times and I have heard stories from Superintendents.8

Jesus has taught us that certain things do not happen until we fast and pray. In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus defeated the devil in the context of fasting and prayer. “[T]his kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). When Paul wanted direction from the Lord for ministry he went to the Lord in fasting and prayer, Acts 9:1-19.

If we are going to return to the fire that once burned in our souls, I believe we need to return to daily devotions of nothing less than one hour; one day per week in fasting and prayer, and at least twice a year we need to set apart a few days where we seek the Lord for direction for ministry and empowerment.

A church that prays and fasts is a church that grows.

Vision is something the Lord impresses upon one’s heart to do something for Him and how to do it. The person with the vision sees the future clearly while no one else can. It can be born in prayer, fasting, reading, observing, daily devotional time or a conviction. It is something that you cannot get away from, it does not stop, the desire to do what God impresses you to do becomes stronger with time. Another word for vision is a dream. Solomon tells us without a vision the people perish (Prov. 29:18). Paul was in similar situations like us: many opportunities, but which one should I choose? He wondered if he should go to Asia or Macedonia and then He received a vision that he should go to Macedonia (Acts 9:1-9). We do not know if Paul was in a trance when he had this vision, received news of the needs in Macedonia or the Lord appeared to him. The absence of the description of the vision in Paul’s experience leads me to believe that God speaks in various ways. And when we follow His vision for our lives we will have fruitful ministries.

We who claim to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led should be able to hear the voice of the Spirit when He speaks. It might be an impression, a burden, a need but it always has to do with soul winning and building-up the body of Christ. When that happens we need to obey the Spirit and do what He says. Will we read the Spirit wrong? Yes, sometimes we will. But as we walk with the Lord we will learn to read the Spirit right.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2011

About the Author: Aldwin Ragoonath, Ph.D., is a trained homiletician with over twenty years of pastoral experience in the Caribbean and Canada. His ministry is devoted to helping pastors develop their preaching gift, teaching Pentecostal preaching courses and facilitating seminars around the world. He and his wife make their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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