By Kimberly Reiter
This is Part 3 of a 3-part series of testimonials from prayer ministry time at October’s Missional Leaders Meeting. You can find Part 1 here.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this series, just a week before the start of the Missional Leaders Meeting, I was led to talk to the MLM staff about coordinating prayer ministry at the MLM. I knew Christine Cottrell, home with brand-new twin boys, would be absent from the MLM this year. Her leadership coordinating this part of the MLM would be missed. I wanted to honor her and the prayer team by putting my gifting to work on the ground. Four days later the MLM began, and I went to work.
Freedom In Ministry Style
As the prayer team members arrived at Glen Eyrie, I prayed for God to show me how to serve them. I am not Christine, and her heart and style were not something I could emulate. Hearing how concerned I was about how to serve, one of the prayer team members told me that I needed to lead “like me.”
As soon as the prayer team got together the first morning it became clear to me that my job was to care for the prayer team leaders, as they cared for those God would put in front of them. This wasn’t a new idea for me. I was a Vineyard pastor for more than a decade. I have always sensed a call to be a pastor of leaders...equipping them, praying for them, encouraging them to risk, helping them to develop the ministry God called them to...especially reluctant leaders and those who were afraid to step into the ministry God was calling them to.
The prayer team met the first afternoon at the MLM and spent a few hours praying for each other. We met over breakfast daily to share about what God was doing in the prayer rooms and to hear what God was speaking to them. This time became a source of great excitement and encouragement for each one on the team. It helped them stay energized despite serving in an intense ministry experience.
Early on, I began to wonder if the MLM leadership team ever heard specific testimonies about what God was doing in the prayer rooms. I was seeing fruit from their MLM planning, but they were not. I remembered from my own leadership experiences how encouraging—though sparse—direct feedback was. So I started sending reports to the MLM staff. It turns out, this feedback was very valuable to the leadership team. When I returned home after the MLM, I received an e-mail from Christie, the Vineyard Missions Communications Coordinator. She asked me to share these stories with you.
But Here’s The Back Story
Last year at this time, I was completely incapacitated by depression. I was unable to serve at the MLM in any capacity. I was so racked with anxiety that I couldn't leave the house. I had recently retired from church leadership. I had become fearful about my ability to lead. I couldn’t trust God. I couldn’t trust myself or my ability to lead.
But God was at work. The first afternoon that the prayer team got together to pray for one another I began to hear God in what the team felt led to pray over me. He reminded me that He knows me and loves me as I am. He knows that I struggle with depression and anxiety. And knowing all of this, He called me to pastor more than a decade ago.
He reminded me of my calling to care for and equip leaders. He showed me that I don't have to do paid ministry on a staff to walk out my calling. And he revealed to me that it was time to get off the shelf and to get back to work...in a different way.
During the MLM I talked with and listened to pastors share that they have little understanding of how to take the vision God’s imparted and strategize for ministry development. They recognized, though, that it was stalling the growth of their church, that they lacked the kind of organizational staff and/or infrastructure that would free their time and attention to lead. But there was also something in them that told them they didn’t want to structure ministry because it would take their eyes off of the leading of the Holy Spirit. My wheels began to turn, and I could feel an unction rising up in me to get back to work.
The Ministry of Administration
Interestingly, I have been helping pastors and leaders work in this area, informally, both inside and outside of my church for years. As a friend, I often found myself asking questions to help leaders evaluate their ministry to see what might be going on. We spent time developing strategies to move forward. I found myself teaching on the ministry of administration and the role and calling of administrative leaders. I reminded leader friends that the ministry of administration is, in fact, ministry—a ministry directly connected to advancing the gospel. This keeps happening. It’s kind of like a core message for me.
Before the end of the MLM, my husband and I got together with a pastor couple we have prayed for at the MLM year after year. They shared what was going on at their church. I began to do my thing, and they asked if I would come out in the new year to do some work with them. We will spend 10 days with them at the end of January.
The conference ended. The prayer team told me that they were so glad I was coordinating prayer this year. They felt cared for. They didn’t have to worry about the details or mechanics of the ministry; they were freed up to do prayer in a variety of ways; and they were able to do that because of my way of leading.
In the end, God surprised me. I’d spent a year of convincing myself that I had nothing to offer, that I was unfit for church leadership, that my time of pastoring was done. Yet, I had no idea that coordinating prayer ministry “like me” was what He would use to show me that I had been listening to lies. God covered a lot of ground in me in my five short days at the Missional Leaders Meeting. I repented of my faithlessness and inactivity. I asked for restoration. I asked for courage. I asked for vision. I asked for passion.
I have served at the MLM in a variety of ways for more than 10 years. I am not a Vineyard Missions partnership leader. I am not a church-planter. I’m just a girl serving at the MLM. I always leave feeling so privileged to have served. But this year, it was personal. And now it’s time to get to work.