Becoming a Healing Church
By Summer Gross
If Jesus mandated the 72 as they went out to “Heal the sick and proclaim, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you'” (Luke 10:9), we have a commission: receive the life of Christ, and pass it on to others. But often healing ministries are stuck in the shadows of a small chapel, sidelined.
“It’s time to bring healing out front and center in our churches,” encouraged The Rev. Kathleen Christopher of The Falls Church Anglican during her plenary session: Becoming a Healing Church, Healing and the Kingdom of God on Earth.
But how do we “mainstream” our healing ministries? A panel of bishops from the three streams helped to develop the picture: Bishop Richard Lipka, Bishop Bill Atwood and Bishop Steve Wood.
1. The clergy must be on board. Preach healing. Practice healing. Send members for healing training.
2. Word and Sacrament should be interwoven. Is your sermon based on Jesus healing a paralytic? Ask for those in the congregation who may need healing for a spiritual, emotional or physical paralysis.
3. Keep your tone low-key so that new Christians or Anglican converts feel comfortable.
4. Encourage testimonies to be front and center. You can’t stop good news from spreading.
5. Include the healing ministry to spread throughout all church functions. Include healing ministries to come on parish retreats, to be present at women’s events, to have a presence at all services. And communication, communication, communication. Build stories about healing into newsletters, the bulletin, and a testimony board in the hallway of the church.
6. Spread the healing ministry throughout the laity. How? St. Andrew’s, Mt. Pleasant includes teaching and practicum on healing inside every Membership class. One church in Texas actually gives a vial of healing to every one being confirmed, reminding them that they are to follow Christ in his ministry of healing.
And remember, your healing ministry is only as strong as your intercession team praying over them.
The Rev. Summer Gross is on staff at the Lazarath Healing Center, Ambridge, PA, and blogs at AThirstforGod.com.
Friday Morning Plenary – JI Packer and Os Guinness speak at Assembly 2014:
Andy Crouch: The Christian Vocation of Image-bearing in Creation
By David Trautman
Wednesday afternoon’s plenary and breakout session led by Andy Crouch made a profound call to stop seeing culture as the enemy and instead see the possibility that culture brings to creation. “The church will either retreat from cultural engagement, or it will offer a deeper, fuller vision of what it means to be human,” he said. Decrying what he calls “the bad news Bible,” Crouch called on Christians to embrace the goodness of creation and the good news of Jesus’ restoration of creation. “Many American Christians have a functional Bible that starts in Genesis 3 and jumps to Revelation 20,” he said. “It’s a bad news to bad news Bible.”
Tracing the beginning of the good news to creation in Genesis 1, Crouch noted that the creation of humankind in the image of God moves creation from being good to being very good. “Image-bearing transforms the world from good to very good,” he said. Human beings do this, said Crouch, through culture, which he equates with dominion over creation. “The best of culture unfolds the very goodness of the world.” As humans exercise dominion over nature through culture, they have the potential to transform it for the better. “Eggs are good; omelettes are very good…Grapes are good, but wine is very good,” he said. “Nature is good, but culture at its best is very good.”
As a classically trained musician, Crouch noted that culture makes music. “The world is full of noise; only image-bearers make music,” he said. He illustrated this poignantly by showing how J.S. Bach unfolded the most basic note to create his “Prelude in C Major.” This ability is not just limited to music, said Crouch. “What we need is for image-bearers to come along and unfold the beauty of the world that was latent in the world but that we never knew was there before.” Image-bearers do this, he said, because they have high authority and high vulnerability in the created order.
According to Crouch, however, human beings cease to act as image-bearers when they worship idols. Idols promise human beings that they can have high authority with no vulnerability, but they deliver the opposite. He said, “The two lies of every idol are: ‘You shall be like God’ and ‘You shall not surely die’. And the thing about idols is they work, at first. But they don’t continue to. Eventually they make you all vulnerability and no authority…Idols ultimately demand the rendering of the life of the image-bearers.”
Crouch concludes that as Christians we need to focus on creative flourishing in our vocations. Instead of staying in safety where we have no authority and no vulnerability, we can embrace both the authority and vulnerability of bearing God’s image in the world, he said.
Andy is the author of Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, published in October 2013. His book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, won Christianity Today’s 2009 Book Award for Christianity and Culture and was named one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly, Relevant, Outreach and Leadership. In December 2012 he became executive editor of Christianity Today, where he is also executive producer of This Is Our City, a multi-year project featuring documentary video, reporting, and essays about Christians seeking the flourishing of their cities. He lives with his family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. For ten years he was a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. He studied classics at Cornell University and received a M.Div. summa cum laude from Boston University School of Theology. A classically trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz, and gospel, he has led musical worship for congregations of 5 to 20,000.
The Rev. David Trautman is Assistant Rector of Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, PA.