When you think of Las Vegas, you may think of the famous motto, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But Summit Ridge Church in Las Vegas, Nevada is hoping that's not the case when it comes to what the Spirit is doing in their community. We sat down with Pastor John Caprine, a former marine who refers to himself as the CRO, Chief Repenting Officer, to learn more.
How It Started
“This has been a journey that the Lord began in me.” It started 4 years ago when a trusted friend handed John the book, A Praying Life, by Paul Miller, and told him he should read it while on sabbatical. It became a tool that the Lord used to grow him in the area of reliance by prayer. “Prayer is often clunky. It never seems like it’s enough. But I started inviting the Lord into all areas of my life.”
John recalls how he slowly began changing the way he would approach situations in church. He began prioritizing prayer with the elders, meeting weekly to pray over the church. In 2021, Jon Hori, Regional Director for Western US and East Asia, flew to Summit Ridge to lead an A Praying Life seminar. They loved it. They began implementing the prayer cohorts, offered studies on Love Walked Among Us, A Praying Church, J-Curve and The Person of Jesus. The sermons have changed, and they have seen lives changed. The effect has trickled down into the congregation.
A prayer team, making up about 10% of the congregation, now sits along the back of the sanctuary and prays for the Spirit’s leading throughout the message. They pray for the pastor and those attending. A storage room was converted into a prayer room to make a space for people to go to pray or receive prayer after the service.
It’s about becoming less preacher-centered and more Spirit-centered.
Even the order of worship has been impacted. Previously, they would start the service off with three worship songs, followed by the message, then close in one or two songs. Last November, they switched the longer time of worship to the end to encourage more of a heart response following the message. “God moves to comfort us, brings us to repentance, and convicts us. Having a longer time of worship allows us to reflect on the message and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit as opposed to just sending everyone out where they will collect their kids and move on with their day and forget what they heard. It’s about becoming less preacher-centered and more Spirit-centered.”
John speaks with conviction as he points out the message of John 5:19 – “Nothing on my own.” This marine-turned-pastor believes he can do nothing on his own so much he had it tattooed on his forearm.
Seeing the Impact
Through seeJesus's Discipling Pathway Program, Summit Ridge has taken the principles of A Praying Life and A Praying Church and is asking the Spirit to write them into the fabric of their culture. The changes are low and slow so many people may not recognize just how much prayer is going into what they do. But the rebuilding is happening. “It’s slowly becoming more a part of our DNA. One of the marks of a praying church is that after the service, you can look around and see little groups of people praying together.”
The changes are low and slow so many people may not recognize just how much prayer is going into what they do. But the rebuilding is happening.
Difficult issues within the church have been covered in prayer and have been resolved smoothly and without drama. Relationships have been not only salvaged but strengthened. Marriages have been renewed that were previously destructive. Men and women have been led out of sexually broken lifestyles. Seeds are being planted. Members of the youth group are praying for each other on social media platforms. People are praying aloud together after 15 years of coming to church and never having uttered an audible prayer. Lives are changing.
“Hudson Taylor once advised, ‘Learn to move men, through God, by prayer alone.’ There are things we are still praying over and will continue to pray for. We pray waiting expectantly for God to answer. God’s not done writing His story."
John still finds himself thinking that he can be so much more efficient than Jesus. But he reminds himself to repeatedly give that over to the Lord. He has seen first-hand the power of prayer.
“One thing I know is that God is at work. He always has been. We’re just slowing down long enough to see it.”
If you are interested in learning more about the "Becoming a Praying Church" Discipling Pathway Program, send an email to Keith Grant at [email protected]. We’d love to discuss the possibilities with you.
Below is an excerpt from a recent newsletter to the members of Summit Ridge Church:
I have said this several times lately, but it really is true: God is at work at Summit Ridge!
In the newsletter below I pray you will be as encouraged as I was by reading ways the Lord has been stirring in us. As you likely know, we have a "Prayer Wall" in our foyer at church where we leave and take prayer requests from one another, bringing them back to our wall when they have been prayed for - a reminder that we believe God moves through the prayers of His people. I have asked a friend and member of Summit to take the prayer cards once we clear the board to make room for more and sort them out. He's taken them over the last few times and seen encouraging ways God is at work among us. Below is his letter to us.
To Summit Ridge,
The prayers pinned to our prayer wall over the past year paint a tapestry that scale the full range of human plights and joys. We are a diverse body with a plethora of needs, wants, hopes, and pains. From those entering the final stages in life to the young children among us, the prayers range from the highly practical to the deeply intimate. Without a doubt, we are a people who pray.
Feeling comfortable enough to pin a prayer request to a wall where a stranger can read your inmost struggle is no small thing. Our culture often encourages us to privatize our faith in Jesus, but this wall stands as an emblem for our desire to share him with one another. We are his body and our sustained unity in him is wrought through our praying for one another.
The prayers of people at Summit have shifted over the last year. While requests for healing from various ailments, freedom from addictions or practical monetary provision remains a consistent need among our members, something else is happening. Something has begun to awaken. Something quite remarkable indeed.
The requests to see more people come to faith and find their salvation in Jesus has more than quadrupled this past year. The longing for the gospel to move in the hearts of the lost is palatable. It is also one of the most common requests made by our youth. The little one’s among us are teaching us adults something profound and we would do well to heed their instruction – Jesus is the one who is mighty to save.
More than this, the groaning for our own sanctification has also seen a noticeable increase, not only in quantity, but quality as well. People are begging to be changed by the Spirit of God. They are pursuing repentance. They see their need for the resurrected Lord to resurrect them from their dead works and habitual sin. As the Puritan Thomas Watson puts it: “Christ is never loved till sin be loathed.” This sentiment is capturing our collective heart.
Jesus is quite busy among us. He is actively healing marriages, freeing people from the shame of their past, restoring broken families, providing abundantly more practical provision than we need, challenging us to be a family and not merely a community, and graciously rebuking our collective pride to fall at his mercies and live in his love. “For this the will of God”, Paul writes, “your sanctification”.
To know where we’re going as a body necessitates, we look from where we came. As we trudge through this life on our path to glory, we don’t always see our growth. The pain is too much in the moment. The elation too great in our worship. But as we reflect, as we remember from where our Lord brought us, we take our refuge. We can look ahead… not in vain optimism, but confident hope that he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion. We know that he who did not spare his own Son but gave him for us all will graciously give us all things. We have seen him work and can find rest in his heart to Shepherd us forward.
So, keep struggling Summit Ridge. Keep aching. Keep asking. Keep needing. Keep hoping. Keep praising.
Above all, keep praying.
- Your Brother in Christ