Church Spotlight: Community Prayer Walk (Southern Oaks Baptist Church)
We’re continuing our blog post series this week, where we are spotlighting churches in the ProChurch community who are reaching out in their cities with the love of Christ. You can check out last month’s post here.
This week, we have an interview with Jamie Sanders from Southern Oaks Baptist Church in Tyler, TX. Jamie serves as the church secretary at Southern Oaks. She and her husband, Jeff, have four children and are long time members of the church.
She’s going to tell us about their “Community Prayer Walk”. It’s a monthly outreach opportunity that they’ve recently started for their church family and that God is using to grow their church and impact their community.
Our hope is that you would read something today that would help you be more effective in showing the love of Christ to the community where God has placed you and your church.
Tell us a little bit about this outreach event at your church. Where did you get the idea for a community prayer outreach?
We call this the Neighborhood Prayer Walk or Community Prayer Walk. One of our pastors leads a group that stays at the church for those who are unable to walk far and another pastor organizes groups to walk through the neighborhood surrounding our church.
Each group is given a map of a specific street(s) along with a prayer guide and the door hangers. As they walk, they pray for the people living on that street, churches or schools they pass, etc. They can pray with individuals they meet as well. We hit different streets each month.
The door hangers are left at each home to let people know that we have prayed for them and to give them information about how to contact us with specific prayer needs.
We do this on the fourth Sunday evening of each month. We have only done this a few times, so it is still fairly new, but we have had a good response.
The idea is part of a purposeful effort we are making to impact our immediate neighborhood and community for Christ. Our church is located in a residential neighborhood near a park and school which gives us great opportunities to plug into our community in meaningful ways.
The hope is that when our neighbors see that God’s people care about them, they will recognize that we serve a God who loves them.
How do you lead your church family to pray for the people in those neighborhoods as they hand out those door hangers?
We give them prayer guides to use, generally centered on a specific theme. For example, October’s theme was relationships. The prayer guide included relevant scripture to pray through for wise perspectives, wise friendships, wise families, wise communities, and wise schools.
Each group prays in the way that works best for them. Some will pray individually as they walk and distribute the door hangers and then meet at the end of the street and pray together. Some will have one person voice the prayers as they walk.
When someone shares a prayer request, how do you pray for them? Is that something that goes to your church staff or do you have your entire church pray?
We give them the option. They can request that it only be sent to pastoral staff, put on our weekly prayer guide (sent to the whole church and prayed over by a small group each week), or sent to our prayer ministry by email.
We can also pray with them on the spot if the request is made in person during the walk.
We follow up with an email to let them know we received the request and are praying. If they visit our church, we send a letter, and they get a call from one of our pastors that week.
What has the response been from the community? Can you share a story or example of someone who has been reached through this outreach at your church?
The response has been positive. One thing we have seen from talking to people in the neighborhood is that we are not only able to pray, but we become aware of other needs.
We have been able to help families in our neighborhood with groceries from our food pantry. We were also able to provide a scholarship to our Mother’s Day Out program to a young family so that the mother could get a part-time job and help with some much-needed income.
Our neighbors can see that prayers are not just empty words, but that we also obey the Great Commandments of loving God and our neighbors by following prayer with action.
The experience has been good for our church family, as well. We are learning to seek God together and God is giving us a love for our neighborhood.
We hope the stories and ideas in this post will encourage you to think more creatively and biblically about how your church can make an impact in your community and especially to the people right around your church.
If you’re interested in planning an outreach event like this for your church, we’ve created a free invite card design for you to use.
Just email us at [email protected], and let us know you would like the design template. We’ll customize the design for you and send you the PDF. If you like, you can also order printing through ProChurch. Just let us know how many you’d like to print.