Harleysville, PA — “Doing church is pretty difficult today,” admitted Charlie Ness, pastor of Perkiomenville Mennonite. This wasn’t new information for the other pastors gathered for the June 9 Pastors Breakfast.
“For 40 years I thought I had to build the church,” he said. Then he realized that Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18 that HE would build the church. And it was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders.
Ness, along with Scott Landes of Frederick Mennonite and Peter Smith of Hope Community Church, were sharing their vision for prayer evangelism. On its most basic level, prayer evangelism is talking to God about people before talking to people about God, Smith said.
All three pastors are involved with UPPEN: the Upper Perk Prayer Evangelism Network, a network of churches in the Perkiomen Valley (eastern PA) that works together to bring about transformation in their region. Their most recent project is Adopt a Street, a movement that covers 100% of the streets in their region with prayer.
“Adopt a Street is about changing the spiritual climate in your community,” said Smith. Then he asked, “What would happen is all the streets in your community were being prayed for daily for the next twelve months?” To illustrate his point, he showed a video of the Adopt a Street movement in Newark, NJ. In the first month of Newark’s program, the crime rate dropped by 33%.
Landes has experienced this transformation firsthand as he and his family pray for their street every day. According to Luke 10, there are four steps to prayer evangelism in your neighborhood, he said: first, praying blessings over your neighbors; second, engaging in fellowship with them to create connection; third, ministering God’s love to your neighbors by caring for them; and finally, proclaiming the kingdom by sharing God’s Word.
“Adopt a Street is not a program, but a lifestyle,” Landes shared. It’s about “being available to God for divine appointments each day.”