Below are the words of Dana Olson. His blog site is also devoted to the subject of prayer. It is www.prayerfirst.blogspot.com
On June 27th our Prayer First ministry is sponsoring a day for Prayer Champions. If you are currently trying to mobilize prayer in your church, or simply have a heart for prayer in your church, you are welcome to this event. You will receive a free copy of Dee Duke's book, Prayer Quest, and Dee will share his remarkable story and insights in two sessions. Please join us from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Seminary Chapel of Bethel University. Cost for on-site registration is only $35, and that includes the free book! Here is an article I wrote briefly sharing Dee's story. It appeared this spring in the magazine, BGC World:
“What do you mean you’re leaving?”
By Dana Olson
When Dee Duke’s father took military retirement, he purchased a dairy farm in Washington. Dee’s high school graduation dream was to be the world’s greatest dairy farmer. Prior to settling down with his dad, he decided to enter Bible college.
There, the young Duke and his wife helped a pastor start a church in the small town of Jefferson, Ore. When he finished school, Duke, his wife and kids returned to the farm. It was his great love. He also became very active in his local church — so much so that the pastor wanted to make him his assistant. This sounded terrific to Duke, dairy farming and ministry together. But at the church business meeting the proposal was defeated.
Deeply disappointed, Duke poured himself into the farm. It seemed his future lay there. Then one day the telephone rang. It was Jefferson, Ore., calling. “We don’t know if you’ve heard, but things have not gone well here. The pastor left and we’re down to just a few people. We are planning to close the church, but we thought that before we did, we would call you. If you and your wife will come back to Jefferson, we’ll keep the church open and try to make a go of it.”
Whew. A tough decision. Duke loved that farm, and plans were in place for him to take it over. But there was a pull to use his ministry training. His father advised, “Perhaps if you don’t give this a try, you’ll always regret it.” So Duke and his family packed up and moved to Jefferson.
The ministry flourished. Jefferson Baptist Church grew to 50, then 75, 100 and more. The people responded, and God blessed the work.
Then there were setbacks. The church fell into a pattern of ups and downs, growing toward 200 attendees, then falling back to 100. The church remained viable, but the peaks and valleys were starting to take a toll. The breakthrough of that 200 barrier never seemed to come. Duke finally thought he had done all he could. He prepared a resignation letter.
Before he could submit it at the next board meeting, another letter arrived. It came from Joe Aldrich, then president of Multnomah School of the Bible, inviting Duke to join other pastors from the region at the first-ever “pastors prayer summit.”
No agenda, except four days of worship and prayer. No special speakers. No planning or strategy meetings. Just prayer. This seemed impossible to Duke. How could anyone pray for four days?
But the summit would be held at a camp on the gorgeous Oregon coast, and Duke thought how nice it would be to hike the coast before resigning. He would attend some of the prayer sessions and walk the coast when bored.
It never got boring. God touched that first summit with revival. Many pastors changed dramatically — Duke was one of them. He didn’t skip a session.
Before leaving the camp, he made a list of seven prayer goals for himself and his church:
Spend one uninterrupted hour per day praying by himself.
Spend one hour per day praying with at least one other person.
Pray for everyone in the church by name weekly.
Pray at least once per month with other pastors.
Preach on prayer for three months.
Plan four major church prayer events each year (always precede a major evangelistic thrust).
Identify their “farm” (20 miles in every direction from the church). Claim it and target prayer for it.
Duke returned to JBC and shared these seven items. The congregation began the journey to become a praying church. As they did, God confronted them about their lack of love. Known today as a praying church, they are also known as the loving church, because they have constantly searched for practical ways to show love to the community.
In a town of 2200 people, JBC has an attendance of well over 1000 people and has planted two daughter churches nearby, with a third starting in September. They have extensive missions work overseas. Many prayer ministries have developed, including targeted prayer teams, an official “church intercessors” group (commit to 100 hours of prayer for the year: 50 at home and 50 at church) and more than 40 prayer meetings per week.
Their motto: “Much prayer, much blessing; little prayer, little blessing; no prayer, no blessing.”
DANA OLSON IS DIRECTOR OF BGC PRAYER FIRST MINISTRIES