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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Healing Church

What if we took Jesus seriously and focused on His fourfold ministry of preaching the kingdom, teaching, healing and exorcising?

1. Our ministry would be cross and resurrection shaped. It would be self-emptying and death. It would be giving first, not getting. It would be God focused first, instead of self-centered. It would be about worship first, not entertainment. It would be about death, but also New Life. It would be transformative! It would believe that what the Father did with Jesus is open to us as well!
2. A ministry focused church would have a hunger for wholeness and health. It would be concerned with body and soul, mind, heart and spirit. It would see human being as a social and relational reality. It would embrace God's Law: to love God and to love our neighbor.
3. It would not be one dimensional. It would not be satisfied with "praying for the sick" (although it would do that). So let me lay out at least one model. It is what we are trying to do at St. Andrew's here in Collierville.

Preaching and teaching would include regular reference to the Biblical concepts of the Kingdom. People in the church would have a mental model which emphasizes salvation as an already (and not yet ) process which touches every aspect of a human being. There would be a hunger to bring people to salvation. This would not be limited to asking them "to accept Jesus is Lord so you can go to heaven."

It would include financial support (serious money) for some types of medical/emotional/psychological care. We support The Church Health Center here in Memphis. Look them up on line for an idea of why!  We have also given to Methodist Hospice (death is the final healing for most of us). We have supported a counseling center in the past.

The parish would have a prayer ministry for the sick (lists of names read during Sunday service, as well as prayer teams). We pray regularly for healing in public gatherings. We also have a Daughters Of the King who pray every day.

There would be care teams which bring meals to those in need due to "bad health." There would be hospital visitation teams. There would be a healing opportunity which is present at some (or all) of the worship services for prayer afterward. On Saturday night we have a healing eucharist. Once a month we also have a prayer team available in the evening. After our early Sunday service a small team prays with anyone with a special need.

There would be special healing retreats/workshops. The parish brings in men and women (from outside) who have a healing ministry. Usually there will be extended times of prayer coupled with teaching. The speakers are folks who  have had amazing success in this ministry. It is uplifting to hear their stories. There are also times of intense prayer which actually demonstrates what is being talked about.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of a church which is hungry to help others. If we love and care for those who suffer then I think God can use us as instruments. I think that too many times we prefer to criticize God (and doubt Him) because of the suffering in the world, when we need to be saying, "Here I am, send me, Lord, to be your servant and set folks free."

Salvation is a total healing. Look at Jesus. Look at what He did. He is our model. That is what church needs to look like. I hope this is beginning to answer the question. More later!


  1. You are describing the Roman Catholic Church. Each of these ministries offered in almost any Roman Catholic parish. So, these ministries are not available in most Anglican Catholic parishes. Also, God is hungry to help us. However, we have to say, "Yes" to his help and we have to know that His Help may come in a form it takes years to recognize... You may find it further uplifting to read some of St. Francis De Sales writings and those of Elizabeth Leseur. Pax et bonum

  2. thanks for your input. I appreciate the reminder on St. Francis. I love reading the wisdom of those who have gone before us in faith.

    Actually, though, the Anglican Catholic parishes can do all these things. We are a mixed parish: Catholic and Evangelical and most of these things are going on here to some extent or other.

    I think the issue isn't so much the theory but the practice. I spent many years in the Roman Catholic Church. It was not terribly different from what I have experienced in the Episcopal church. There are always people on fire in the parishes, I just think we have not reached critical mass. (no pun intended)