NEW LIFE 2010 was birthed in prayer
On the eve of the new millennium, in 1998, one hundred and fifty American Baptist leaders--lay and clergy, local, regional and national--gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over a three day period of prayer and fasting in conversations with one another and the Lord, the embryonic stages of NEW LIFE 2010 took shape.
Taking literally the words of Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I am doing a new thing!”, that gathering of American Baptists wanted to participate in God’s work. But before we could experience the “new thing” we felt bubbling up, we had to consider our history and the present reality.
American Baptists have always reached out to share the Good News. One means to that end has been planting new churches. American Baptists have always been intentional about transformational and caring ministries. What made this different? NEW LIFE 2010 would be the first time as a denominational family we linked these components of ministry and saw them as interdependent.
Recognizing that history, we thought about our present. All of us have only so much time. Before we ask God to start something new, we need to ask God what we should stop doing. Bringing a program, project or position to an end does not diminish its value. We acknowledge its usefulness for its time but see that it is no longer needed. Not one of the churches to whom the New Testament Epistles were written exists today. Yet, we don’t deny the value of their ministry during the time that they were serving the Lord. You cannot ask God to do a new thing without space for it on the proverbial plate.
After you have honestly prayed about stopping some ministries and have begun to follow up on your insights, then ask what God wants you to start. Since now you have provided some much needed space, the Lord has room to do a new thing.
Now pray that God will reveal the ministry you should continue, enlarging and enhancing that present work. God often leaves a little extra room for you to expand present activities and invigorates existing programs that seem a bit stagnant, perhaps just because it’s been a while since the Spirit moved over them and stirred the waters.
To keep an emphasis on prayer before American Baptists since that gathering in 1998, a national prayer team was organized and still provides daily intercession across the country for our denomination. Since the kick-off of NEW LIFE 2010, leadership went on to ask that American Baptists set aside time on the 20 day of each month at 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. to pause and pray for the components of NEW LIFE 2010--the planting of 1,010 new churches, the making of 1,000,010 new disciples and the creation of a multitude (one per church would be nice) of caring ministries, thereby transforming all of our existing congregations. The prayers are not meant simply to support what others are doing in these areas, but to ask God how each of us can experience this new thing! If it has been a while since you’ve been challenged by God’s new thing, why not take some time right now, and “have a little talk with Jesus”?