How to prepare for a church wide fast.

This week we are looking at a church wide fast that we are finishing up this week at Liquid Church.  It has been fantastic to see the growth in our people over the last three weeks . . . so I’m taking a look at some the mechanics behind what we’ve been up to.

We were overwhelmed by the response to our church wide fast at Liquid.  We were hoping that basically 1/3 of our adults would take up the challenge and join us.  I thought this was a huge goal. If we could get that many people who would take three weeks and eat nothing but fruits and vegetables while spending more time focusing on prayer . . . that would be amazing.

In the end we have over 80% of our adults join us in the fast! We were blown away by this.  Getting that percentage of our community to do anything is a nearly impossible task! If we stood at the back of our auditoriums and started handing out chocolate bars to people who wanted them . . . I don’t think we’d have 80% take them!

As I reflect back on the prep we did leading up to the fast I think there were a few factors lead to this high response rate.

  • The “X” Factor – Like we were talking about Monday, what is happening isn’t completely explainable . . . it doesn’t all fit on a spread sheet.  God is clearly up to something in our community . . . we’re just responding to it.
  • Timing – Like in so many “campaigns” like this the timing is critical.  This series was a response to a series about “what happens when life takes an turn you didn’t expect.  That stirred up a lot of conversation and prayer that we needed to provide a next step for.
  • Staff Team Fasting – Our lead team started fasting four weeks before the series . . . the following week our staff team joined us in the fast as well.  (Again . . .we presented it to them as an option and 100% of the staff team said yes!) Many of our staff where praying that we’d exceed the 30% target . . . so great! We ended shooting a quick video to tell this story and let our community know that we were fasting for them.  Clearly there is a principle that you can’t take people you haven’t gone already . . . if you can’t lead your staff team in a fast . . .it’s going to be hard to lead the broader church.
  • Announce it / Teach on it / Ask – We did ended up announcing the fast for a few weeks before we started the series.  Our communications were focused on the “spiritual breakthrough” that people would be praying for . . . rather than the absence of food.  Then on the first week of the series Tim did a great job of teaching on what fasting is all about . . . telling stories, digging into scripture and using some compelling visuals to illustrate.  But we didn’t ask people to start the fast until after the second message in the series.  People then had a week to think about the fast and prepare for it.  At the end of the second message . . . we had communion together and asked people to commit to the fast and the accompanying prayer focus.

It’s been a great journey over the last few weeks.  It’s been great to see how many people are joining together in the fast and praying for stuff in their lives.  The stories I’ve been the most encouraged are people who are brand new to the faith . . . or are still checking out Jesus (like a Muslim guy that attends our church!) that have felt comfortable enough to try out the fast. To me this is the hallmark that we’ve hit the right cord . . . taking a spiritual discipline that Jesus “assumes” will happen and make it accessible to people from a wide variety of people . . . not just the “super spiritual” folks.  [See Jesus’ assumption here!]

What is holding you back from encouraging a church wide fast in your community?

On Friday we’ll look at some of the support materials we produced to help encourage people to join the fast and stay connected!

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