Reaching Your City For Christ

By Francis Frangipane

We recently introduced you to our dear friend, Phil Miglioratti. You'll recall, Phil is a Baptist pastor, a member of the National Prayer Committee, and also the publisher of the National Pastors' Prayer Network (a consortium of six blog sites, www.nppn.org). If you are a pastor or ministry leader, you ought to pray about utilizing the wonderful resources God is providing to rebuild the Lord's house.

Pastor Phil is passionate about Christ-centered unity in the church and just as passionate about winning the lost to Christ. He coordinates the "Prayer-Care-Share" initiative of Loving Our Communities to Christ in seventeen cities across the United States (www.missionamerica.org, www.lc2c.blogspot.com).

This is the first of a two-part interview between Francis Frangipane and Phil Miglioratti.

Francis ~ Phil, how were you introduced to the pastors' prayer movement?

Phil ~ Before I knew there even was a movement of pastors praying together, I found myself inviting colleagues to my office to pray. A precursor to that was a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit in our small congregation that took us by storm and surprise! This revived our understanding of God (worship) and gave us a hunger for a deeper and immediate relationship with the Lord (prayer). The Lord gave me a pastor friend who mentored us as we took baby steps upward and forward; he suggested I needed to meet with other pastors for prayer. My invitation brought half a dozen or so together; we prayed weekly for several years, and that group continues with one of the original members! The prayer intensity of that pastors' prayer group allowed us to share personal and ministerial struggles. At one point, it was my refuge during a church conflict that had the potential of spinning me out of the ministry.


Francis ~ You began out of your own need, but God quickly gave you a larger vision . . .

Phil ~ True. The group met my need for a place to wade deeper into the waters of Spirit-led, corporate-bred praying and, thanks be to God, met an unexpected need of spiritual support during a crisis. As the crisis passed, the Lord gave me the sense that many (most?) pastors have similar needs: a safe place to experience the edification and fellowship of pastors as well as a place to express bigger prayers of hope for revival and awakening. In other words, if it was a such good thing for me, maybe other pastoral colleagues would also benefit from a weekly hour of prayer.

As the National Day of Prayer approached, I invited other pastors to join our "PPG" and our group of a half dozen swelled to over three dozen that day. The next year for NDP, we offered four gathering spots. Soon, we counted three or four dozen ongoing PPGs across the Chicago region, a result of my hunting for existing groups and challenging colleagues to begin one in their local area. It wasn't too long before the Lord had me view the map from a higher perspective; I went from having a vision for my city to our state and quickly the nation. He was calling me to serve the emerging movement of pastors' prayer groups and thus was born the National Pastors' Prayer Network.

Francis, this journey would not have taken place without your book, The House of the Lord, and your newsletter that I discovered while attending one of your conferences back then. The message of the book read like the story of my life in those days, especially the aspects of spiritual conflict. It gave me the hope from God that I needed to press forward to see his victory. And your work with pastors as you went from city to city became a model for me of how God wanted to connect his Church in cities and communities large and small. Your pioneer efforts laid a foundation for many of us who have been called into this movement. Much thanks!


Francis ~ Analyze the pastors' prayer movement; how are we doing?

Phil ~ It seems to me the pastors' prayer movement was a new alternative to the typical approach in most towns and cities, the ministerial. Ministerial groups are fine, but I have not seen in them an abandonment to prayer – intercession on behalf of the city. And it appears that commitment to prayer in PPGs produce stronger working relationships among the pastors and leaders praying together, which has led to the next phase of the movement. Most PPGs are now not only praying for the community but they are beginning to pray in the community, which is creating opportunities to pray with the community. Many PPGs pray with the mayor or police chief or on-site at a school. Outward focused praying has resulted in a vision and passion for community transformation. Also, pastors are beginning to recognize the strategic role of church members who have influence in the marketplace. Partnership, or at least mutual respect, is beginning to emerge in some of our cities.

Pastors experience in microcosm what the Lord wants them to produce in their congregation: prayer-forged relationships and prayer-driven ministry with an outward focus. No more holy huddle-only prayers.


Francis ~ What mistakes or missteps have been made along the way?

Phil ~ I think the enthusiasm over the blessing of praying together (whether in weekly groups or annual 3-4 day retreats) caused many groups to be keepers of the flame rather than spreaders of the fire. As the movement has matured, we have recognized the need to affirm and deploy believers into their sphere of influence with a missional mindset, but that took time. Frankly, some leaders, in their efforts to build networking and collaboration among the Body of Christ, have been exasperated by the pastors – too busy to make it their priority but too controlling to release the ministry to their pew-sitting members (many of whom are very skilled and highly recognized in the community). We pastors also suffer from programitis. We decry them but quickly default to them when a new initiative of praying for the lost or caring for community needs or, especially, sharing the good news of Christ is adopted.


Francis ~ As you know, we have just updated and revised my book from 1991, The House of the Lord. It’s now under the title When the Many Are One, published by Charisma House. By the way, thank you for your endorsement! Where can readers find other resources that help build community or citywide prayer among pastors?

Phil ~ As the movement of pastors' prayer groups and community transformation develops, new resources are being written and new strategies are being unfolded. Here are a few "portals" to check out; they'll lead you to many other sites and sources.

* www.CityReaching.com - City Impact Roundtable, scores of city movements across the US
* www.NPPN.org - a directory of PPGs, articles for PPGs, interviews, etc.
* www.LC2C.blogspot.com - prayer-care-share stories and strategies, coaching insights, new perspectives on how to share the gospel
* www.flministries.org/pub.htm - Tom White's book, City-Wide Prayer Movements
* www.servethecity.org - a coalition of congregations and ministries who bring resources together to serve the city and demonstrate the love of Christ
* www.missionamerica.org - an unprecedented Coalition of Christian leaders who have prayerfully come together to mobilize the Church for praying, caring and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in deed and word
* IV Press - Mac Pier & Katie Sweeting's The Power of a City at Prayer
* Issue #67 of Pray! magazine: What Happens When We Pray For Our Cities?
* PrayerShop Bookstore - has resources on all aspects of prayer and praying

Francis ~ Phil, would you pray for the pastors of our nation?

Phil ~ Father, download your heart for the communities and towns we live in, deep into the DNA of every pastor and leader so that, we too, like our Lord Jesus, cannot help but weep over the city. Jesus, call us together in prayer across boundaries of ethnicity or denomination or generation; prayer for each other and one another's congregations, of course, but also prayers of big hope for the people, places and things of where we live and serve. Holy Spirit of God, empower and embolden us to lead our congregations in praying for the lost to be found, in caring for those with names and needs in our neighborhoods, and in new ways to show and tell the glorious old gospel of Jesus Christ. Transform our praying by the renewing of our minds. Amen.


For those interested in building unity in their cities, "The House of the Lord" now under the title, "When the Many Are One", is available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

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