Sparks of Joy Under the “Bonnet” of the Church

Sparks of Joy Under the “Bonnet” of the Church

When Pastor John Caprine asked Colin Millar, seeJesus’ European Coordinator, if he’d come to Las Vegas to lead a seminar at Summit Ridge, Colin recalls, “I really had to stop and pray about it.” As part of the team that developed the A Praying Church Seminar, Colin had tested out the material over Zoom© with a small leadership group at John’s church the previous winter, and, as Colin puts it, “Session 4 caused a serious J-Curve.” J-Curve is the title of Paul Miller’s book on dying and rising with Christ; in seeJesus parlance, J-Curve means “it went badly.”

Colin explains, “One of the aspects of A Praying Church that can be hard for people to get their minds around is what Paul calls ‘the Spirit of Jesus.’ Those lessons were J-Curve experiences the first ‘go round, but that was over Zoom and with a small group of leaders. John’s request felt like it carried this risk of leading me to an in-person J-Curve with John’s whole church!”

But John, and his wife Angela, and the staff were praying, and Colin found himself saying “yes!” to the invitation.

John’s journey with seeJesus began in the summer of 2020, when he reached out to schedule an A Praying Life Seminar at his church after reading the book. From there, Summit Ridge started prayer cohorts and began earnestly asking the Lord to help them to be praying disciples of Jesus.

Three weeks out, John and Colin had a call to pray and talk about the “potential speed bump” session on the Spirit of Jesus. As Colin prayed for wisdom and clarity, he decided to use an illustration of looking under the “bonnet” (aka “hood”) of a car. He would share some well-known verses and ask the question: “If the Person of Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, how can he also be with us here on earth?” To answer, they’d explore what happened to Jesus at the resurrection and discover the “Power Train” which is at work under the hood of the church when it prays!

Colin began to feel better about the upcoming seminar; but still, when the weekend arrived, he recalls, “I was so mindful of my weakness. I’d just flown in from Ireland and hadn’t really slept for three nights. I wasn’t sure I could stand up for the duration of the seminar, let alone handle the content!”

But that quiet work of praying that started when John Caprine’s heart was stirred after reading A Praying Life, and the prayers of all who joined in the prayer story over the last two years had a laid a beautiful foundation, and the weekend sparkled. The seminar took place on Friday and Saturday, and Colin preached on Sunday. After the sermon, Colin asked people to turn and pray in pairs, and they did. John and Colin describe the time of singing that followed as “so loud and lovely!”

The congregation’s feedback echoed John and Colin’s sense that the Spirit had done a work among them. The “speed bump” sessions were the ones most frequently talked about as helpful and encouraging. One person commented, “That session answered 30 years of questions I’ve had about following Jesus.”

Prayer is beginning to get down into Summit Ridge’s DNA. John shared that a recent organizational chart exercise had him putting “the Spirit of Jesus” up on top, in charge of all the rest. Management and prayer are often in separate buckets, but this church is finding that they run best under “Spirit Management!”

We’ll keep doing the low, slow work of discipleship, and trust the Spirit to blow when and where he will!

John’s not sure what’s next on this journey toward becoming a praying church. “I’ve never been someone who has a big five- or ten- year plan for the church. It’s probably partially my sin of cynicism and partially an honest desire not to presume. In the end, I want us to be closer to Jesus and more like him. I want us to be praying disciples and make praying disciples. We’ll keep doing the low, slow work of discipleship, and trust the Spirit to blow when and where he will!”

Colin is currently raising support for his work as seeJesus’ European Coordinator. You can join his team at here.

Author: Liz Voboril