Initiative calls for Tennessee Baptists to pray for neighbors each day by name
By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
The influx has been created by the Pray4TN campaign — an initiative designed and developed by Tennessee Baptist Mission Board staff members Roc Collins, David Evans, and Steve Pearson.
The concept behind the movement is for Christian families in Tennessee to “adopt” their neighbors — each member of every household — and commit to praying for those families, by name, each day.
“We want this to be something that motivates churches and equips churches,” said David Evans, evangelism specialist. “But most of all, we want this to be something that excites churches. The very first step in evangelism is to excite the people who are going to evangelize, and to excite the people who are going to be evangelized.”
Collins, director of strategic objectives for the TBMB, said the Pray4TN movement is also about developing new relationships. And the best way to foster those relationships, he said, is by praying.
“First of all, Pray4TN allows you to know the names of your neighbors,” said Collins. “So, when you pray, you can pray specifically for them.
“It’s not just a generic prayer like, ‘bless all those around me,’ ” Collins added. “But rather, you can call them by name before the Lord.”
Friendships can then be formed — and the prayers quickly become very personal, he said.
“When you meet a person in your neighborhood, you will put a face with the name,” said Collins. “And at that point, your prayers get really specific because now you know who that person is.”
Excitement is building
The Pray4TN campaign will officially begin early next year with a series of prayer rallies that will be held at various churches in Tennessee. (See below for times, dates, and locations).
Evans said he believes the timing and the spiritual climate are just right for this movement to make an impact.
“We’ve got a lot of Christians in Tennessee who want to be excited,” said Evans. “So, the question becomes, how do we go about it? How do we excite those people — and the communities around them — to be evangelized? And the answer is prayer. Prayer is the way you begin that process.”
Although the Pray4TN campaign has not yet officially been launched, numerous churches have piloted the movement. The response has been enormous, Evans said.
“Right now, before we’ve even gotten off the ground, Tennessee Baptists have adopted more than 17,000 households,” said Evans.
“Think about that. We currently have more than 17,000 households that are being prayed for, evangelistically prayed for, every day,” he said. “That’s incredible. I mean, if the movement ended right now, it’s already been a success.”
Collins said he believes the movement will gain more and more momentum.
“We are believing that when Tennessee Baptists are informed about Pray4TN that we will cover well over a million homes,” he said. “The fact that we have not ‘officially’ rolled out Pray4TN and we already have over 17,000 homes being prayed for is overwhelming.”
How it works, how it started
Those who join the campaign will be given a list of names in their neighborhood and will then begin praying. The movement will be promoted in churches, on social media and e-mails.
“When you join the Pray4TN movement, you will receive, in your e-mail inbox, the names and addresses of the households that you are adopting.”
The unique format of the Pray4TN campaign was the result of a confluence of ideas from Evans, Collins, and Pearson, who also is a TBMB evangelism specialist.
“You had three evangelistic minds who came at this from three different angles,” said Evans, “but all of us were unified in the belief that prayer isn’t just necessary — it’s vital.
“Roc has been ringing this bell since he came on staff, and so have Steve and I,” said Evans. “So, we came together on this.”
Evans said when Christians start putting a high priority on the people around them, things begin to change and doors begin to open.
“When we start praying for other people, God has a very cool way of giving us opportunities and equipping us to meet those opportunities to share the gospel,” said Evans.
Evans believes prayer changes the priorities of those doing the praying. In turn, it also changes the entire culture.
“Prayer allows us to start putting our time, our thoughts, our focus — our treasure — on the people in our neighborhoods,” said Evans. “It all begins with praying for the people around us.”
Jan. 11: Faith Baptist Church, Madison
Feb. 12: Parkway Baptist Church, Smyrna
Jan. 18: Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Feb. 15: Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, Knoxville
March 19: First Baptist Church, Milan
Other rallies are also being finalized and will be announced soon. All of the rallies listed above are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. (local time) and will last approximately one hour.