Focusing on the power and movement of the Holy Spirit will be the theme next March of a prayer conference being put on by leaders and members of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and the Reformed Church in America (RCA).

Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International (PRMI), a ministry that works to empower people through the worldwide movement of the Holy Spirit, is also helping to sponsor the conference. The Dunamis Institute, a ministry of PRMI, is involved in the conference as well.

Set for March 11-14 at Camp Geneva in Holland, Mich., the conference will examine and provide answers to this question: How can leaders and churches be enabled to discern and obediently cooperate with the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

The idea for the conference emerged from a monthly prayer meeting of leaders in the CRC and RCA who felt God had “directed us to do this,” says Mary Sterenberg, prayer mobilizer for the Great Lakes region of Christian Reformed Home Missions (CRHM).

“We discerned that it is God’s heart that the CRC and the RCA join efforts in a prayer movement ...We began to feel that the Lord wanted us to have a big event to teach and empower us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to advance God’s kingdom,” Sterenberg said.

This prayer conference will come five weeks weeks before the CRC's annual Prayer Summit being held in California, April 15-17.

Although the summit and the conference take different approaches, says Sterenberg, the summit and conference are not competing events, and rather they complement each other.

“Both are in the same stream of movement of what God is doing, which is to call the church to be prayerful and to listen to his guidance, and cooperate with it,” said Sterenberg.

In addition, people who are interested in prayer and yet can’t attend both events will have the chance to choose one, says Sterenberg, one of the coordinators of the conference in Holland.

Geared especially to pastors, leaders and prayer partners, the conference will use the book Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit by Brad Long, Paul Stokes and Cindy Strickler as a guide for its sessions.

Published by Zondervan Inc., the book asserts that many leaders overlook the necessary precondition of discerning and cooperating with the empowering will of the Holy Spirit before putting their programs and activities into action, says a news release from Zondervan.

The book is a highly practical guide for nurturing relations between believers and the Holy Spirit, a process facilitated by seven dynamics, each of which will be discussed at the conference:

  • * Love that draws us into engagement
  • * Faith and obedience
  • * Receiving divine guidance
  • * Exercising spiritual discernment
  • * Welcoming the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit
  • * Intercessory prayer that shapes the future
  • * Seeing and responding to kairos moments.

The conference is unique in that at least two hours per day will be spent in small group sessions, where participants will have the opportunity to pray together and discuss the content of the course and the situations they encounter in their own ministry context.

Also, each conference attendee will be given the opportunity to continue being coached in this small group for 12 months following the conference.

While highlighting the work of the Holy Spirit, the conference will be anchored in the mainstream of Reformed belief and practice.

“Reformed theology is solidly based on the Word of God and values the person and work of the Holy Spirit, but we have not always had a full understanding of how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to advance the kingdom of God,” says Sterenberg.

“I really pray that people will come,” she said. “I pray that the Spirit will work in their hearts … so that they can get to know and cooperate with the person of the Holy Spirit and receive all that God has intended for his church.”

Mary Sterenberg is a commissioned pastor of prayer and spirituality in the CRC. Besides serving as the prayer mobilizer for the CRHM’s Great Lakes Region, she is prayer coordinator for Classis Grand Rapids South.

She serves on the board of directors for Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International (PRMI), and Gathering GR, a united prayer movement in the Grand Rapids region.