How to Use Prayer Meetings to Promote Catholicity

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Pastor, what kind of culture are you working to create for how your church regards other churches? Are you leading your church to be generous, hospitable, and friendly toward other churches? Or do you model coldness and competition? 

The answer matters because, though local churches are autonomous, they should never be isolationist. Healthy local churches must be concerned about the health of other local churches nearby. 

One way to create this kind of culture is through your regular prayer meeting. We can do this in at least three ways: 

1. Pray for Other Churches

The earliest Baptists believed autonomous churches have an obligation toward one another. The authors of the Second London Baptist Confession described it this way: “Each Church, and all the members of it are bound to pray continually for the good and prosperity of all the churches of Christ, in all places.”[1] 

They didn’t say each church is “encouraged” to pray or “should consider” praying. No, they said each church is “bound to pray” for other churches. Simply put, healthy churches pray for other churches. 9Marks didn’t devise that, nor did the Second London Confession. It’s simply what Christians have done since Jesus ascended to heaven: “keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

How then should we pray for other churches? Pray that God would: 

  • bless the preaching of his Word, 
  • raise up more elders, 
  • convert sinners, and 
  • bless the churches in your area for the glory of Christ and the good of his people 

(Here are eighteen other things to pray.) 

Simply put, what you pray for your own church, pray for other churches, too. And do so regularly and without qualification.  

In doing so, you are declaring to God, your church, and your own heart that God is doing something bigger and better than working through your church. You are discipling your members to prioritize the Great Commission and savor the glory of Christ instead of the glory of your own church. 

2. Spotlight Other Churches 

Another way to create a culture of catholicity is to have a pastor from another church share about his congregation during your prayer meeting. I’ll never forget Mark Dever having a local Presbyterian pastor share how his church was doing during our prayer meeting. 

If you don’t already know, Mark is a Baptist. Like a real one. He is so Baptist, you might as well call him the Baptist bishop. And yet, he invited his Presbyterian friend to share in our Baptist church. 

Why? He wanted our church to be concerned about and praying for the gospel-preaching Presbyterian churches in our area. He wanted us to see that, despite our differences, we are together for the gospel. (#RIPT4G) 

Bringing other pastors before your church will raise your people’s affections for other churches. It will help rid your heart and church of any territorial or competitive spirit. And it will create a culture that rejoices with churches who rejoice and weeps with churches who weep.

3. Encourage Membership with Other Churches

Lastly, and maybe the hardest of all, encourage your members who live closer to other healthy churches to consider joining there. Though this can be painful, it is Christ-honoring and culture-shaping. 

We recently planted a church. And I’ve already encouraged a few of our founding members to do just this.

There are two other churches in our city who had members driving long distances to church. The pastors of these churches encouraged these members to join us. I’m convinced that because these saints had prayed for us, this encouragement didn’t fall on deaf ears. 

They didn’t want to get rid of these members; in fact, they would have been thrilled to do life and ministry with them for decades. They were long-term members, future elders, and close friends. They were people they had ministered to, prayed for, and loved for years. 

So why did they encourage people they love to go to a different church? Because they love the gospel. Because they’re committed to the Great Commission. And because they long to see more and more healthy churches established in our city and beyond, so that those who are far from Christ can be brought near. 


Brother pastor, we don’t own the members of our church. We’re simply shepherds and stewards. Our job is to help them get to heaven, and sometimes that means we help them find another church that can care for them better. By doing this, we create a church culture that loosens its grips on this world and fixes its gaze on heaven—where congregations ne’er break up, and Sabbaths have no end.  

So, pastor, use your prayer meeting to fuel these goals. Use it to create a Great Commission culture in your church, a culture that puts competition to death and extends friendship, hospitality, and generosity to other churches. 

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[1] Van Dixhoorn, Chad, editor. “The London Baptist Confession of Faith.” Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms, Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois, 2022, p. 282.

Ben Lacey

Ben Lacey is the lead pastor of Trinity River Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX.

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