For the last four years, Walt DeVries has pastored at Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Omaha, Nebraska. DeVries has always stressed to his church the importance of being involved in missions work and has focused on the principles of giving to missionaries, but he wanted to present a new series that emphasized missions even more.
Recently, another AG pastor in his area introduced him to The Live|Dead Journal, a 30-day prayer journey that challenges individuals, small groups and churches to die to self and live in Christ. Those who participate in the Live|Dead Challenge will understand Live|Dead principles and develop disciplines, connect with the modern mission field in Africa and learn to pray for unreached people groups there.
DeVries decided it would be beneficial to implement the book and its 30-day challenge into his teaching for a church-wide missions emphasis. He completed the Live|Dead Challenge himself, guided his wife through it and then presented it to the other pastors in the church.
In January and February 2012, Glad Tidings AG, a church of nearly 1500, began the Live|Dead Challenge. The majority of the church participated - even the youth group, children's ministry and adult small groups. Time was set aside each day of the challenge for three corporate prayer meetings in a designated prayer room.
DeVries says the challenge made a big impact on his church. "It brought great unity and a great understanding of what it means to live the crucified life in Galatians 2:20," he says. "Of course it also really brought prayer to a whole different place. A lot of people are still talking about it. This has done the most for our church than any other series has done."
As for the younger generation, not only were they invited to participate in prayer meetings and join in with messages that were tailored to fit their age group, but several young adults are feeling called as a result of the challenge. "There's one young man who is currently working in Sudan, another preparing to work in Africa in the next year ... there is also a family from the Sudan area that is feeling called to return to do more missions work," DeVries says.
By instilling the biblical principles of The Live|Dead Journal in the current generation, their strong faith can be passed to the next generation and further build the Kingdom, DeVries says. "The next generation needs a challenge; they need a cause, they need a purpose. That's what this challenge does for them. It's a big challenge - it's not for cowards - it really puts missions out there as it is. It worked very well with our students. They need to be challenged to 'live dead' like everyone else, but they are more apt to go after it and do the challenge in their context," he says.
Glad Tidings AG is just one church that has stepped up to take the Live|Dead Challenge. Churches and small groups across the country are participating in the 30-day challenge at the urging of pastors and church leaders. By doing this, congregations are committing to live a life that is not self-centered, but a life that is Christ-centered and will leave a legacy for the next generation.
DeVries highly recommends that other churches take the journey through the Live|Dead challenge. "This challenge helped our church get missions-minded. Now there is more of a willingness to go, not just give," he says. "If a church is really wanting to jumpstart missions and begin reaching out globally, this is a great tool. I can't say enough good about it."
For more information about The Live|Dead Journal and other Influence Resources titles, click here.