Monday, 25 May 2009

Healing Ministry Part 2

Having just discussed what I don't think "healing ministry" should look like in my last post, I am thinking of what it should look like.

My great sadness is that some of the weirdness seen in this area actually puts people off seeking healing. The same can be said of spiritual gifts. Weirdness from the fringe of the Church makes people throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have to find a way of seeking healing that is scriptural, safe and with integrity.

Then I read this post by Scott Taylor, from Reading Family Church where Terry Hotchkiss from my Church in Shrewsbury went as part of the Frontedge initiative on Sunday.
Granted not everyone who is prayed for is healed but we are seeing people regularly healed of various ailments. The more we pray, the more God does through his people by the power of his Spirit. You would think that this would be enough to rejoice about. However the real rejoicing came when we rang the bell three times. There were at least three responses to the good news of Jesus on Sunday morning with three more still to be identified. Each time we rang the bell we put up a cheer to God not a short cheer, but a long sustained one, joining with the celebration of heaven over each of these three sinners saved.
This is where I think I want to be in terms of seeking God for healing.
  • Healing ministry is within the context of the pastoral support and accountability of Church life
  • The bible is honoured and ministry comes out of that. Not diving into ministry and hoping the scriptural foundation catches up
  • The speaker is known personally to those running the event, or their ministry is proven amongst people they trust
  • Follow up is about the whole person into the future: not just hands up on that day
  • Healing is discussed in the context of Jesus and salvation: with the focus on Jesus and salvation. "If you leave here with only one thing: leave here with faith in Jesus."
  • Prayer for healing is part of the over-arching witness of the Church. It is not just a specialism (although God may use one person in the area more than others), not a single focus issue, not something "extra" tacked onto the edges of Church life. Rather, as we, the body, gather and seek God we see Him work. It is something we "share" not something we "consume". Something we participate in as part of a Church body, rather than something someone "else" does to us or for us.
and that is why I am confident to continue to push on in this area, and consider it a blessing to work alongside Terry as God continues to use him to open up this aspect of ministry.


Brian Johnson said...

Hi David,

I'm more interested in healing in the context of evangelism. Jesus sent the 12 and 72 OUT as proclaimers of the kingdom to heal and set people free from demonic oppression.

It's often said that the non-believer is more open to healing since he has no Christian hang-ups as to whether healing is for today or whether the "healer" is sufficiently anointed, or whether he himself has enough faith to be healed, etc etc.

The guy (Willliam Lau) who runs "The Elijah Challenge" - trains Christians in many countries across all kinds of denominations to heal unbelievers in the name of Jesus. This method gets away from the charismatic/non-charismatic divide since it relies not on a few believers with spiritual gifts of healing. Rather, it relies on the preaching of the gospel and Jesus' power and authority to heal in the same way as the Early Church did in their outreach. It therefore brings churches together in unity, since Jesus alone is the evident healer, and not seen as any one man's anointing. So all the glory goes to Jesus.

Ian Matthews said...

Having given this some thought since reading both your posts, here are my observations.

Firstly, I think the way we 'do' healing is fundamentally wrong. I cannot find an example in the NT of an offer for widescale prayer on healing - the equivalent to our invite for people to 'come to the front' to be prayed for. As far as I can see all healings happened in personal one(or two)-to-one encounters. Jesus healed specific people, not everyone who was sick (such as at the pool of Siloam), and this seems to be the pattern with the apostles. Most importantly, I cannot find an example where it is used to prove or show God's power directly in a public setting.

I would suggest that healing is something that should happen in more intimate settings, such as counselling, discipleship, prayer partners etc. Much of the hurt encountered in this area is from over-hyped appeals, large group (including church) emotion etc. A close, trusting relationship can offer the right environment to build faith but also manage disappointment.

Secondly, I have seen a number of churches where the emphasis on healing has reduced the biblical emphasis on suffering. By stating 'God wants to heal you' or something similar it can lead to considerable hurt for people with deep needs that are not met through that. In the New Testament the teaching is on enduring through faith, in trusting God even though it hurts, but the practice is to pray with faith. Again, that balance is harder to achieve through public times of healing prayer, and especially through public declarations of God's intent to heal.

Thirdly, a lot of misunderstaning comes from the sloppy use of language by CHurch leaders. We talk about God blessing people when something good happens and, although it is never said, this suggests the absence of God's blessing when something bad happens - which is the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

We are taught in scripture that we should count it ALL joy - the good and the bad. So, it is a joy when I am healed, but it is also a joy when I am not, as I am in God;s hand. What message do we give to the person who is not healed when we say that 'God has blessed person x' when they are healed? The pastoral consideration in the language we use means avoiding 'cheap' congregational motivational language.

Just my few thoughts :-)

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

Secondly, I have seen a number of churches where the emphasis on healing has reduced the biblical emphasis on suffering.Yes that is a well made point.

Healing can be made to feel like a "pass out" which some people get and others don't. That is more like the lottery than a loving creator God.

Firstly, I think the way we 'do' healing is fundamentally wrong. I cannot find an example in the NT of an offer for widescale prayer on healing - the equivalent to our invite for people to 'come to the front' to be prayed for.Again I take the point, and some of the clumsy ways I have seen it done make my skin crawl.

Having said that, I do see several allusions to some level of public, corporate, prayer for healing. It is not clear whether "amongst" the people just meant "In the town" or with crowds. I do take your point though about personal, relational based healing ministry.

Acts 5: " 12The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. 13No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by."

Acts 8: "5Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city."

Acts 14: "3So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders."

and again in 14: " 8In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

11When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" "

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

Brian, you said I'm more interested in healing in the context of evangelism.The healing meeting described in the post was an outreach service with lots of guests