NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--An admonition for churches to host a solemn assembly in January 2011 is among the challenges to local churches and pastors in the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report approved by the Southern Baptist Convention last June.
The event is to be "for the purpose of calling Christ's people to return to God, to repentance, and to humility in service to a renewed commitment to Christ and the Great Commission," and the challenge was reiterated by SBC President Bryant Wright and the leaders of the convention's entities.
At www.namb.net/sbcdayofprayer, Southern Baptists are called to pray corporately and individually on a date in January that best fits a church’s needs. The reason for the challenge, according to the website, is because "we have forgotten our first love (Revelation 2:4) and need revival in the SBC. We need God's direction."
"The goal is for all of us to 'Be still and know that God is God' as a sign of our humility and desire to wholeheartedly return to Him," the website says. "By our being still before Him (see Psalm 46:10), we exalt our God and position ourselves to obey the Great Commandment found in Mark 12:29-31 and the Great Commission our Lord gave in Matthew 28:18-20."
Among the recommendations for a solemn assembly:
-- Distribute personal preparation guides for cleansing and restoration and instruct every church member on how to use it through the day.
-- Plan a solemn assembly or a concert of prayer for the whole congregation or the entire association.
-- Hold prayer gatherings by Sunday School classes or Bible study groups.
-- Encourage families to have a focused prayer time acknowledging God alone is God. For example, an extended prayer before the evening meal or a prayerwalk through the home asking for cleansing and God's presence.
-- Challenge every Sunday School class or Bible study group to tithe time to contrite prayer for spiritual awakening.
-- Extend the pastoral prayer and invite several to read scriptural prayers and admonitions.
-- Preach a sermon on prayer, stopping at each point to lead the congregation in application praying.
-- Ask your members to pray daily for tens of thousands of SBC congregations to participate in the SBC call to solemn assembly.
Among the SBC Day of Prayer resources available on the www.namb.net/sbcdayofprayer site is a document titled "How to Lead a Solemn Assembly" which contains suggestions to assist pastors in leading a time of repentance and renewed commitment to Jesus.
First, a pastor might prepare for solemn assembly by identifying and enlisting a leadership team of two or more people including himself, the document says. Then he could study "The Call to Prayer and Solemn Assembly" issued to Southern Baptists in 1989 and available on the website.
As he prepares for a solemn assembly, the pastor also might pray for God's specific directions for his church and communicate to the entire membership the necessity of participation. The pastor may reproduce or purchase copies of "Consecrate the People," a booklet for students and adults available at www.lifeway.com.
The Sunday prior to the solemn assembly, the pastor could make the case for such a time, the website says, by using the example of revival in Nehemiah 8 and 9. The pastor might explain the goals of becoming the people God desires them to be and consecrating themselves to Him for His divine purposes. He also may explain the importance of preparing individually and corporately to be holy and acceptable, living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). On that day, he could distribute Consecrate the People and challenge the congregation to use it during the coming week.
During the week, the website recommends that the pastor work through Consecrate the People, renew his first love for Christ, confess and repent of known sin and prepare to renew his covenant commitments to Jesus. He should provide a small group opportunity for people to share victories, confess sin to one another in same-gender groupings of two or three, and pray for one another in final preparation for the solemn assembly. This could be done in Sunday School classes prior to the solemn assembly.
On the day of the solemn assembly, the website suggests that the pastor acknowledge God's presence, holiness, sovereignty, love and mercy. He should lead the congregation in remembering Christ's love demonstrated by paying for their sins on the cross, and they should reflect on the difference He has made in their lives because of forgiveness, redemption and salvation.
The website recommends that the pastor identify Jesus' invitation to consecration and full surrender to Him and that he provide time for corporate confession, repentance and prayer. For example, the pastor could invite people to confess sin by standing if they have identified idols of the heart. Then he could ask a leader to pray for cleansing, forgiveness and restoration for those standing.
Next the pastor could guide people to make final preparations in a time of prayer and meditation and then extend an invitation for people to acknowledge their consecration and full surrender to Christ. The congregation could sing "I Surrender All" or a similar song of commitment and renew their covenant commitments to Jesus Christ.
In closing the pastor could read Scriptures and guide the congregation in responsive commitment to be the people God asks them to be based on page 16 in Consecrate the People. Then they could celebrate Christ and the New Covenant He has provided by His blood.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach. To view other Baptist Press stories on the call for churches to engage in a solemn assembly in January, go to http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=34226
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