The National Prayer Summit debuted last year with Free Methodists from across the United States meeting in Greenville, Illinois, for three days of prayer and teaching in preparation for General Conference 2015.
“We just felt people had come prepared spiritually. They were ready to pray. They were ready to engage,” said Margie Newton, a co-coordinator of the National Prayer Ministry and the Greenville Free Methodist Church’s pastor of prayer and counseling ministries.
The free gathering sparked local and regional prayer summits from California to Florida to Wisconsin and many other areas of the country. Many of the summits echoed the format of the national gathering.
“What really surprised us was how people went back to their local churches or regions and wanted to somehow reproduce it,” said Doug Newton, the Greenville senior pastor co-coordinating the National Prayer Ministry. “They felt like they were resourced.”
The next general conference is three years away, but the need for prayer remains. While Free Methodist leaders are especially focusing right now on multiplication strategies for the church, Doug Newton said, the bishops agree multiplication must include revival and repentance.
The National Prayer Summit will return to the Greenville Free Methodist Church this year, but the Thursday–Saturday, Oct. 6–8, summit will have a new theme: freedom.
“What we’re going to teach and model at this one is a process of moving a group toward freedom in a context of prayer,” said Doug Newton, who noted the theme fits with the Free Methodist Church’s name and also new ministries such as the Set Free Movement. “It just seems to me the Lord is re-energizing that word ‘Free’ all across the denomination. … We’re embracing all over again that that’s part of our reason for being.”
Plans are still tentative with speakers to be announced later, but the Newtons said the summit will begin with a Thursday evening service that imagines what the church would be if “freed up.”
On Friday morning, summit participants will seek the Lord’s guidance about where we are “bound up” on the local church level and the church at large. After the identification of binding issues, confession and repentance will be modeled and exercised with an emphasis on humility.
“It’s not going to be all sorts of intellectual analyses,” said Doug Newton, who added that surveys and checklists may identify symptoms, but they may not find the deeper problems.
“It’s not going to be a dark, dismal time,” Margie Newton said. “It’s going to be a celebrative time that He is the one to transform us and free us.”
Friday afternoon will include resourcing times with people who are gifted in using prayer techniques for spiritual freedom. The Friday evening service will include a keynote speaker.
Saturday will give participants ideas about how to return home and start their own “freedom teams” or “rescue teams” in their local churches and conferences.
Doug Newton said the Lord is bringing together a leadership team for the National Prayer Ministry that “ultimately will reflect the breadth of the denomination, so we’re going to be very intentional about racial and ethnic diversity.”
Generational diversity also is a goal for the summit. “We need to pray younger,” Margie Newton said.
Go to fmcusa.org/prayersummit for registration and more information.0