Over the next ten or so minutes the class members pray, "Lord, just help us to grow...Lord, we just want to worship you today...we just want to reach out to the community more," etc. As the time of prayer closes uneasiness amongst the members sets in. One can easily tell that there is some kind of tension in the room.
What is happening these days at Temple Baptist is a phenomenon that is beginning to show up in many other places in Evangelical America. For years now, people have been asking God to "just" do this or to "just" do that, and now tensions are beginning to arise among church members about what they think God should "just" be doing.
"When I pray I ask him to 'just bless us,'" said Dianne Boutwell, a member of Temple. "I think that covers everything. We don't need to be limiting him in any other way."
But some disagree.
"Since it's obvious that God only does one thing at a time, I think it's important that we ask him to 'just help us evangelize more'" said Ronnie Williams, another member. "But it's hard to pray that when all these other people are praying against me with all of these other requests."
Indeed at Temple Baptist on any given Sunday one can hear over 100 different 'just' requests. Some pray "just grow us," while others pray "just lead us." Other requests include "just make us more mindful of the needs of others" and "just help us to remember who we are." The disagreements have become so severe now that the church is in danger of splitting in different directions.
"We at a critical point here" said Pastor Perry Adkins. "I for one pray that we would 'just be united' but I know that there are those who disagree with me. If we're going to survive we need to come together as one on what we think God ought to be doing right now. I know he's just waiting for us to tell him, but he's getting all of these different requests."
The church plans to hold a special congregational meeting this upcoming Sunday evening to discuss the issue. Adkins went on to comment, "Right now I'm praying that things will just go well. In fact, I've heard several other people pray the same thing lately, so maybe we're getting on track here."