According to a recent report, 69 percent of Tennesseans who claim to be “religious” do not attend services regularly, and among Southern Baptists, the rate of nonattendance is at a whopping 76 percent. To change the accelerating trend of nonattendance, the prayer strategies ministry specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention called on all its 3,000 churches to pray and fast once a week or once a month throughout September.
"We're praying that God will reverse those numbers," said Don Pierson, the Tennessee specialist.
Through the intense prayer, Pierson said the Southern Baptists hope to change the "moral climate” of not only the denomination, but also “of our state and nation."
According to Pierson, the leaders of the individual churches can choose how they will participate in the 30 days of prayer.
"Most churches are incorporating the prayer time into their present prayer ministries," he said. "Some have prayer rooms, and it's becoming a focus of their prayer room during that time. A lot of our churches are doing prayer revivals."
However, all churches are encouraged to undergo the “prayer walking” process, where parishioners can have direct contact with the people they are trying to reach.
"Prayer walking is simply defined as praying onsite with insight," said Pastor Frank Crawford of Calvary Baptist Church.
According to Crawford, Calvary Baptist congregants have regularly practiced the “prayer walking” ministry.
"By entering into the community in a physical way and walking down the street and observing houses and seeing people in their yards, we will become more aware of the people who live right here around us, and thus hopefully we will be more inclined to and better able to help them in the name of Christ,” said Crawford.
According to Pierson, the 30-day of prayer and fasting initiative in Tennessee follows the national denomination’s effort to raise the spirituality of the U.S. The SBC, the nation’s largest denomination with 8 million members, also officially adopted a spiritual initiative called Empowering Kingdom Growth earlier this year.
"Last week I met with a Catholic priest, a Methodist pastor, some Baptist pastors and others, and the Catholic priest shared with me that they also are asking for the same thing," said Pierson. "The call to prayer for revival has been going on for some time now, but it's growing with intensity, and it's crossing all denominational lines."