Sunday, July 29, 2007

Orthodoxy Repels Healing Services

I'm moved to comment about the consideration that Christian healing is in the outer fringes of orthodox worship. All too many pastors fear that inviting the healing mercy of Christ into a congregation's worship will make them out to be lunatics. A justifiable position.

All too many congregants view church on Sunday morning as a thing that they must do to keep up appearances. But when challenged to dig deeper and hold a healing service, they repel. They call it hocus-pocus. Sad. But there are those who welcome it but in their welcoming comes a divisiveness within the congregation. I've seen it and pray that it doesn't grow to the point of rejection of any pastor who believes in, and worships in, healing services.

On my soapbox...Christ heals! He does it when we drop all personality, when we drop all expectation, when we drop trying to manipulate outcomings...Christ heals at a very personal level. Some are willing to lay themselves open to being ministered to, while others just want enough to guarantee their salvation. They don't mix. The healing ministry is "uncomfortable" for so many because it is as if they have to say that they believe more in a mysterious influence on their lives than the tangent, visible, medical community.

If someone cannot afford the scientifically proven medical solutions to their maladies, or, if they are at the end of their ropes because nothing that science has to offer provides a cure, that's where Jesus comes into the situation and provides a solution...a cure. I've seen it too many times to deny it.

I'm particularly moved by a modern Catholic priest from the Philippines who has the gift. He prays for each and every individual who comes to him for his healing touch. He may start a service at 8pm and not finish until 4am because he has to touch and pray with each individual who comes for healing. Imagine...2000 people and you have to pray with each and every one of them for God to work in them individually. His ministry was at first not embraced by the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church, but the results of it are unmistakable, and now endorsed. What of protestants?

I believe that an embrace among mainstream orthodox protestant denominations of the healing power of Jesus Christ, and his Great Commission to His followers, will yield phenomenal results. If only we can....BELIEVE! If we can believe, Our Lord will work wonderfully in our midsts. If only we can believe. That's the hardest part...isn't it? To believe that God will work miracles in our midsts...if only we believe.

Let's get off our comfortable positions, people in leadership, and seek the love and mercy and grace of God for healing in our modern churches. Please, don't make people leave to seek what they need elsewhere, when true servants are ready, willing and able, if only they are asked.

I would encourage all pastors to administer a "spiritual gifts assessment test" in your congregation to find what strengths (or weaknesses) you have in your midsts. Everyone who participates will accept what they well as what is revealed about others. Do you have someone with the gift of healing in your congregation that you don't know about? Do you truly know to whom you are ministering to...or that there are those who can minister to you? Something to think about.

God chooses His servants and the roles they will play in his revelation. Some aren't pastors. Some are just people in the service of Christ. Embrace them if they reveal themselves to you.

In the love of Christ.


Art said...

I think many people are afraid of "healing" because of the bad rap caused by charlatans and proven liars who make money off of deceiving innocent, suffering people with their "healing". That doesn't mean it's all "hocus-pocus" though, by any means. We shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater...

Brother Marty said...

Thanks for your perspective. I've recently read about some of the Pentecostal churches that have rested on their laurels after growth in the 70's, that they are losing membership to other churches. Specifically, churches that offer a vibrant, fresh perspective on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Amongst themselves, they tutor the congregations that are losing membership to reintroduce healing as a means for a new vitality. Where this happens, people come back, and new members are drawn.
Reflecting upon this idea, one must confess that healing within a church service invites the weary to come experience God's love in a fresh, new way. For the unchurched, it seems to be working. Stagnant congregations are coming back to life by virtue of bringing in those who seek God for the first time, with healing being the catalyst of change.
Just some thoughts.

crevo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crevo said...

I think one problem is methodological - there are so many potential problems and I am not aware of a resource for pastors on how to hold one or the practical aspects of healing ministry. Any suggestions?

Brother Marty said...

Most denominations have in their book of worship a liturgy for such services. In the UMC, see:

The United Methodist Book of Worship, 613-614.

Additionally, if there is a chapter of The Order of St. Luke the Physician (link is on home page) within a reasonable distance from you, they would have resources available as well.

Regarding the practicality of holding a healing service, it can stem from a need for individual physical, spiritual or emotional healing...or congregational healing. The need may arise as a result of some tragedy in the community, or the bigger world (911 for example)where people are hurting and there is a need to heal that hurt.

Restoring wholeness, whether in an individual or a community of believers, is the purpose for healing services, and for some, a healing ministry. I hope this addresses your questions.