Last week at the University of Texas we had our first campus minister Fusion Group, a weekly time of prayer for college pastors at UT. Thirty-nine pastors from twenty-one ministries attended. What a way to start the school year!
We’ve been praying together weekly since the fall of 1997. When we first agreed to start praying together, we set some simple “rules” regarding how to facilitate the hour of prayer. I was recently reminded of how important some of these rules are when I heard of a group of pastors who decided to stop meeting together because the prayer time was not mutually beneficial (because many of these rules were broken).
So here are some of the rules we try to apply in leading a Fusion Group.
I know it seems silly to have to make this point, but we’ve all attended the “prayer meeting” that was really fifty-five minutes of sharing and five minutes of prayer. Fusion Groups are a prayer meeting. Keep sharing and discussion at a minimum. Instead, pray.
The prayer leaders must come with a plan. Someone needs to lead the group. You can rotate leaders, but only if there is an agreement that the leader comes prepared with a plan for the hour.
Pray For Each Other
One of the main purposes in gathering pastors in united prayer is to build relationships with one another. Relationships can grow by simply spending time in prayer for one another. Each week, we try to step outside of the “ministry work” and say, “How can I pray for you personally?” When you have a chance to pray for each others’ walks with God and for each others’ families, genuine love for one another grows.
It is best to change dynamics in a hour-long prayer gathering. Each Fusion Group should have three times of prayer: worship, prayer for the campus, and prayer for each other. There can even be a short time of sharing prayer requests or praises (provided there is an agreement to be brief). Depending on the size of the group, it is also helpful to pray in a large group and later break into smaller groups.
Start and End on Time
This one cannot be overstated. There needs to be a common expectation that the group will start and end on time so that pastors can confidently make the schedule adjustments to join the Fusion Group. Let folks greet one another briefly when they arrive, but start worshipping together after 3-4 minutes. End on time, and then conversations can take place afterward among those who have time to linger.
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Justin Christopher is Campus Renewal Ministries’s National Campus Director and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.