April 2, 2010

The Coaches at the Vital Churches Institute begin all Acts 16:5 Seminars and Gatherings with...


by Steve Ebling, Pastor, New Hope Presbyterian Church, Fishers, IN

As a standard practice the Coaches at the Vital Churches Institute begin all Acts 16:5 Seminars and Gatherings with Word-Share-Prayer, a simple tool that can transition dedicated ministers and lay leaders to engage with the Scriptures and with one another prior to settling in for a day challenging thought and action on both a professional and personal level.

What is Word-Share-Prayer?

Word - reading scripture seeking and discussing new and previous insights into what God is revealing through his Word
Share - sharing the personal blessings and concerns of life
Prayer - praying for each other with gratitude for blessings and requests for concerns

Several years ago, I started using Word-Share-Prayer at the start of my Session meetings (in the Presbyterian tradition Session is the governing board of my church made up of mostly volunteers). This was a new experience for the Session as they were accustomed to a quick opening prayer and an immediate jump into the agenda for the meeting. I explained, “We need to be people of God before we do the work of God. Word-Share-Prayer will help us be the people of God before we get into God’s work for our meeting.”

In the first year or so of my Word-Share-Prayer experiment with the Session I would ask the elders questions about that night’s chosen Scripture passage. I’d get blank looks and minimal response. When it came time to share blessings or concerns and pray, again very few of them offered any requests or dared to utter words of prayer. That left most of the talking and praying to me!

As I write this message to you I reflected on last night’s, monthly Session meeting. As usual, we began with about twenty minutes of Word-Share-Prayer. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between last night’s experience and my early experiences with Word-Share-Prayer. Most if not all of the elders made comments about the Scripture passage last night. I hardly had to say anything! Several prayer requests were shared and a number of elders prayed along with me as we brought our Word-Share-Prayer time to a close.

As our Session has practiced the discipline of Word-Share-Prayer over the years, it has helped us become “the people of God” as we meet every month: engage the Scriptures; share life with one another; and pray together. The last few years our Session has become a very cohesive bunch. Oh, we don’t always agree on the church matters before us in our meetings, but we always leave our meetings of one accord and with a good spirit. I don’t believe that is a coincidence. Our monthly practice of Word-Share-Prayer has shaped us into that kind of governing body.

At your next board, committee or team meeting, I encourage you to start the discipline of Word-Share-Prayer. On the Vital Churches website, at the “Resources” tab, you’ll find instructional material about the use of Word-Share-Prayer and a free gift of 80 Word-Share-Prayer Bible Studies. I believe you’ll discover, as I have, that this simple practice will be transformative for you, your people, and your meetings! Visit for a detailed explanation.