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Building A Prayer Ministry
By Dan Vis
August 31, 2018
Comments: 9

Prayer is the lifeblood of any training center. If you want to see lives changed in your church, your will want to encourage prayer.

There are three basic steps to building a prayer ministry. First, create a way to communicate prayer requests quickly with the members of your church who have a burden to pray. Second, recruit as many people as possible to join that list. And third, explore ways to stimulate a greater desire for prayer in your congregation, so your list will continue growing.

In today's post I want to share one way to get a church prayer ministry setup and organized. Here is the plan, step by step...

Getting Started

There are actually lots of ways to get prayer requests out to your members. But here's the method we used at our church in Chicago: googlegroups. It's simple and free, and we recently updated our training center tools to integrate with it seamlessly.

To use it, you first need to create an account at google, and then go to www.googlegroups.com. If you are logged in to google, you should see a red button at the top that says "Create Group". Click it.

That should bring up a form requesting information about your group. Here's our suggested settings, though of course you would want to replace "Anytown" with a short version of the name for your church:

Group Name: Anytown Church Prayer Group
Group Email Address: anytownchurchprayer (@googlegroups.com)
This is the ID for your group. Jot it down.
Group Description: This is the prayer group for Anytown Church...
Group Type: Email List (default)
Basic Permissions:
-- View Topics: All members of the group (default)
-- Post: Uncheck all members of the group
(leave managers and owners)
-- Join the Group: Anyone can ask (default)   

Note: All of these fields can be changed later, except for the group email address, so choose that field carefully.

Once everything is filled out, push the red button at the top of the page that says CREATE. Confirm the captcha screen and wait a few seconds for google to set everything up.

When the confirmation screen comes up, click the option that says "Invite Members to Join".

To invite members to participate, simply enter a list of emails, and an invitation message explaining what this is all about in the boxes provided. Go ahead and invite a few friends if you like--or save that for later. You can invite new members to your prayer group at any time.

Last step.

If your church is a registered FAST training center, and you are a leader in your training center, login to FAST, go to your center, and look for the link in the menu area that says Prayer Area. There you will see a box to enter your googlegroups id. That's the first part of your group email address above--the part before the @ symbol. Enter that into the box and click save.

Your prayer group will popup, and everything should be ready to go. If for some reason, this does not work for you, contact us using the Help Hotline and we'll do our best to help.

Inviting Members

You've already added a few members perhaps, but you will want to continue recruiting and adding more members. Fortunately, it's relatively easy.

Make a few announcements at church. Get a few people to go around with clipboards and have them collect the emails of anyone who wants to participate. Let them know they will be sent an email invitation to join that they will need to confirm in order to be added to the list.

Be as positive and enthusiastic as possible. Many will be happy to join. The more the better!

Once you get some email addresses, you will want to send out the invites quickly, so people don't forget to confirm them. Here's how you do it.

Make sure you are logged in to google, and go back to www.googlegroups.com. This time look for your group in the bottom left menu area, and then click the name. That will open up a list of recent posts to the group. Now look for a link at the top right that says Manage. Click it.

You should see a list of current members. You can click a name to remove someone from the list if they want their name dropped. There's also an option to make them a manager, or even an owner of the group. This is useful if you need help managing the prayer group or there is a change in leadership of the group.

What you want now, however, is to find the Invite Members link in the side menu. This is the same screen you saw before. Simply add some email addresses, write a short invitation message and click the blue Send Invites button. Do this any time you have new members to add.

There is also an option to Direct Add Members but I advise against this unless you are absolutely certain they will want to receive messages from the group.

Keep working at it, and soon your prayer group will include a large portion of your church!

Using Your Group

In addition to adding and/or removing members in your group, you also need to be able to send out requests. And you need a way for members to get prayer requests to you for sharing. Here's how you do it:

Sharing Requests
The easiest way to share a request with the group is simply to send an email to the group email address you set above. As long as you are a manager or owner of the group (remember those settings?), your message will be instantly forward to every person in the group.

Hint: save the email address to your contacts list, so it comes up quickly when composing a new message.

Another option is to click over to the prayer area in your training center at FAST and click the red button there that says New Topic. It essentially does the same thing. You can also post directly from the group page at googlegroups. Just look for that same red button.

Updating Requests
To update a request is pretty simple also. One way is to just reply to the email containing the request, and your message will get forwarded to the entire group.

Or you can go to the training center prayer area (or googlegroups) and find the request you want to post an update to. When you click on the request, you'll see a small input box for a reply. Write something there, post it, and your update goes to the entire group. Make sure your group hears about answered prayers whenever possible!

Here's another helpful tip. Include a short quote or verse about prayer at the bottom of each email. This is one way to constantly educate the members of your church about prayer. It's easy to find quotes on prayer. Just google them! :)

Getting Requests

Encouraging members to share requests is another important key to building an effective prayer group. You'll want to regularly remind people to send in prayer requests, and post instructions about how to do it in your church bulletin. It's also a good idea to send out reminders to the group through the list itself, every once in a while.

There are several ways for members to report requests for prayer.

First, they can simply send a request to the group email address, or post a request to the group either in the training center prayer area (or at googlegroups). If they are not a manager or owner, those posts will go into a queue until they are approved.

Basically, every manager (owner) gets an email saying that a request has been submitted to the group with a link to approve or reject it. Click that link, review the request, and if it is appropriate, send it out. Or, reword it as needed and post it yourself. Or delete it.

Make sure you have someone specifically assigned to this task as some requests are urgent, and should be shared quickly. Note that you can view all pending requests at any time at the googlegroups page.

Prayer requests can come in through other means as well. A phone call, a note, a direct email to one of the leaders in your group, etc. Keep your ears open, and you will find plenty of things to pray for.

One BIG caution though: Be sure to always get permission before posting a prayer request about someone, and avoid giving unnecessary details that might violate their privacy. As your list grows, it's easy to forget how many people are receiving these messages--so it is always good to be careful about what gets posted.

Promoting Prayer

You now have all the basic tools you need to get your prayer ministry up and running. Let's close with a few ideas for promoting prayer in your congregation. This a big topic and deserves a more exhaustive discussion, but here's a few tips to get you started.

1. Do a major prayer ministry campaign at least once a year. Run it for an entire month to make sure everyone hears about it. Ask the pastor to kick it of with a sermon on prayer, or better yet, do a series through the whole month. Have clipboards on hand to recruit members for your prayer group the entire month.

2. Have prayer team members on hand at special events such as a week of prayer, or a weekend seminar. Use every opportunity to keep your prayer ministry visible.

3. Keep an announcement in the church bulletin about your prayer ministry with instructions about how to get added to the list.

4. Pick a day to visit the various SS classes and encourage the teacher to take 5 minutes to promote the prayer group and pass around the signup list.

5. If you have a FAST team in your church, be sure to visit that class when they cover the lesson on prayer in Basic Trainng.

6. If your church is a training center, do a promotion of our Prayer Secrets class. Follow these suggestions and make sure every graduate gets invited to join the prayer group.

7. Run a special prayer event at your church like a 40 Days program or a Daniel fast, and use the prayer list to send out the daily or weekly devotionals. For members to participate, they will need to join the group.

I'm sure you can think of additional ideas. Our prayer ministry team was constantly experimenting with different programs. Some worked great, others not so much--but everything helped. And thanks to a series of excellent leaders, our prayer ministry remained extremely active throughout my entire time there as pastor, and we saw many miraculous answers to prayer.

It can work for you too. Just follow these nuts and bolts suggestions for setting up a prayer ministry in your church. Get your prayer group setup, work hard to grow your team, and experiment with different ways to cultivate an environment of prayer. It won't be long before you're seeing miracles too!

Comments

How important is it for the members of a church to pray for one another? What does your church do to encourage prayer? Any questions about the steps posted in this particular plan? Share your thoughts in the comments below...

Posted by Dan Vis on 09/07/18

Qing, I'm pretty sure every SMS number has a corresponding email address--as text messages are actually sent as emails between carriers. The specific address depends on the carrier though--so you have to know the number and the carrier and then lookup the corresponding format. There are even lookup services for this. I remember the first time I sent myself an sms from my email program--it was super cool!

So it's not overly technical, but it might scare some people away. But you only need one person to manage the signup process. There's nothing to it for the group members themselves.

But no need to persuade your existing leaders to make a change. If they have something working, great. Of course, if any of the ideas in this article can help strengthen your prayer ministry in some way, even better!

Note also, there's usually a space limitation on sms messages--so you have to keep your messages short. Which means there's not usually room to include a promise or quote about prayer. That was one of my favorite parts of the prayer ministry we built--the encouragement to pray that accompanied every request...

Posted by Qing Ling on 09/07/18

Dan smses have corresponding email addresses? I have seen that happen rarely in my life (as in I get an email sent to me from a mobile number)… but I don't know how to figure out the mobile number's email address...and email to phone's sms app. if that makes sense. could be an USA thing?

anyway, thanks for highlighting the differences with sms group system and this googlegroup system thing. useful for when I discuss with prayer team here about uptake of the idea. it will still take some savviness on the part of people who join the group, and I have some prayer warriors here who are not very tech savvy.. but they can certainly learn new tricks - I've seen it happen - so it's just about getting some initial uptake, then the rest will follow :) will pray over the progress of this.

Posted by Dan Vis on 09/07/18

Glad this could be a help to you Narelle! There are probably other solutions out there, and we thought about developing something inhouse--but with all the regulations out there related to email/spam it's not a simple task. This solution worked great for us, though I'm always looking for better tools...

It shouldn't be hard to get it setup Floride. The key will be promoting it heavily and consistently, until you get a good majority of the church members involved. But if you work at it, and give it time, it can happen!

Agreed Qing, messaging is a good option. I've thought about trying something with sms, some kind of messaging app, a platform like slack, fb group, etc--but each has it's own pro's and con's. I think texting might be better for a core prayer team, but our prayer ministry was pretty much a whole church program, and email seemed to work well for that. You could do both, reserving one for emergency requests...

A couple pluses of googlegroups: You can easily change and share ownership /management of the group. People have multiple options to submit requests. People can manage their own subscription (ie cancel), you can display all recent and past requests and even update them, and members have options to customize settings--such as an option for a digest, etc. And actually, all sms accounts have a corresponding email address--so if you used those addresses instead of their regular emails, the prayer announcements would go out to their messaging app instead!

If I had time, I'd develop my own system, but hands are full at the moment. Maybe next year! :)

Posted by Qing Ling on 09/07/18
To answer the discussion questions - it's absolutely vital for church members to pray for one another. It's a great way to promote closeness amongst members, and increase the faith of others as they watch prayers get answered when prayer warriors pray dedicatedly for them.
I am blessed to have a handful of people who are super passionate about prayer ministry at my church - and creative too! I wish I could post a picture here. Dan ;) So I could show the cool prayer wall we've created... strings between two pillars, and prayer cards that people write on then peg to the strings, and each Tues morning when the prayer group meets at church, they unpeg the cards, pray over each card, initial them or something to show they've been prayed for, then peg them back up... it was initially a set up to go with a sermon series at church..but the exercise was so fruitful, the team decided to keep the wall up permanently in our foyer!
Posted by Qing Ling on 09/07/18
love it. will print and discuss with my prayer ministry leader as she would be main person to drive it. we already have a sms/text group managed by a long-time serving elder so this elder has all the key church members saved in his sms-group on his phone. makes it easy. SMS works best for our urgent/significant prayer chain requests, as it's an instant alert to everyone.
not everybody checks their emails, hence why I suspect the googlegroups thing won't be taken up at my church, but the other ideas about promoting prayer in the church are great and will be useful for my prayer leaders and pastors to consider.
Posted by Floride Leonce on 09/04/18

Hi Dan,

Thank you for the tips!
I will try to set one up and see how that works out for people.

Blessings!

Posted by Narelle Coyte on 09/03/18
Hi Dan, Thank you for the infomation on this last day. I have been looking for something like google groups for our church and also for our conference to make communication easier between us all for some time now. wow and to think it was just a couple of clicks away. Shall follow your instructions and let you know how I go. So excited....Thank you!
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/01/18
Awesome. Let me know if you have any glitches Lynn. Want to make sure we have the instructions super easy and clear. Let me know if you have any trouble getting it set up in your Training Center also...
Posted by Lynn Badger on 09/01/18
I love this! It is an answer to my prayer. Thank you I will be setting this up today.

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