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What would it look like to be freed from the pressure to have to make church work, to work to have more people to do more programs to fabricate more energy and to do more with less? It's tiring just thinking about it.

What if there was a better way to being the church rather than doing church?

If you’re asking these questions, or resonate with them, a newly forming pastors prayer coaching group may be for you.

I’m Jon Hoekema, pastor of Horizon Community Church, and CRC Prayer Shepherd. I’m creating a prayer coaching group to learn to pray as being in a deepening relationship with God, learn to lead our churches in growing more deeply in prayer, and recognizing ways that growing in dependence on God frees us from the pressures of leading the church.

Horizon’s story is a journey where we learned to trust God, learned to lean into his calling for our church, and learned to leave the results to God. That journey began when we started becoming a praying church and not just a church that prays. Prayer is the foundation that this journey is built upon.

Through it we learned some lessons that have changed us. We:

  • Learned a culture of prayer that changed our perspective on how we follow and trust God.
  • Left behind the worry and anxiety of trying to keep the church alive. Rather, we learned to trust God for it. It’s his church.
  • Learned to trust God’s leading.
  • Learned to wait when it wasn’t clear, and not force our way forward. We didn’t have the energy to do that anyway. Because of that, God brought us in directions we never would have imagined.
  • Learned that as God called us to be a praying church, part of that was releasing me to also serve as CRC Prayer Shepherd. 
  • Learned continual trust in God for his provision. 
  • And personally, not pastoring with the pressure to be a “successful leader.”  Instead, living into being a pastor that pays attention to the Spirit and leads the church to do the same.

This journey began with an intentional focus on prayer, a focus on seeking God’s face, and a quiet trust as we waited for the Holy Spirit to work.  

If you long for a deeper prayer life personally, a culture of prayer for your church, and a new way for a congregation to be shaped, this pastors prayer cohort may be for you. 

Email Jon Hoekema at [email protected] for more information.


Among the many things that dramatically altered my "prayer" life was the realization that the prominent Hebrew word we translate as "pray" doesn't mean pray at all. Tefillah means "to connect" in in this instance to make a connection with the Lord. It suggests focus and intentionality and opens up a conversation wherein we speak but also listen. In its reflective form it means "to judge." Yup, that's right. Why? Well because Jewish people always pray out loud (God spoke creation into being, he didn't think it!) and when we do we tend to be particularly conscious of what we are saying and, if we are truly attuned to the Lord, will be constantly discerning whether "the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart are acceptable." Read the Psalms, read Job, or Jonah. The conversations are not always nice and sweet. Complaints, doubts, anger, you name it and you will find it expressed. God desires truth in the inward being. Then there is Habakkuk. I see that "book" as a journal entry of his own growth wherein he moves from questioning God's sensibilities to a remarkable emergence of a declaration of trust in the worst of times. Yup, sometimes we need to get "down and dirty" with this thing we label prayer.

Ronald Everett VanAuken aka "The REV"

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