Ministry in the Spirit

What do we mean by “ministry”?

Luke 4:18-19“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

This is the ministry of Jesus and therefore this is the ministry of the church.  We are in the business of seeing people set free and healed.  We do not believe that when someone becomes a Christian that this is finished.

1 Cor 1:18 –  “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

There is a sense of ongoing salvation (the word for “saved” is “sozo” which also means “healing”)  and so we believe that God wants to continually heal us and touch us and equip us to do His work.

It would be helpful to define ministry as: “Meeting people’s need through the power of the Holy Spirit”.  This then would cover ”ministry to the poor”, evangelism and other areas of “ministry” within the church but in this context, when we talk about ministry, we are talking about praying for people.  Be in no doubt; it is God who meets people’s needs, not us, but I believe that there is biblical precedent that He chooses, often, to use us for this through the laying on of hands.

Ministry in the vineyard

Ministry is held as one of the priorities of the Vineyard as a movement.  Within the movement, it has always been very important that the works of Jesus are being done by the people of the church and not by “superstars” at the front.  As a result we try to regularly train people to pray for, or minister to, each other with a view to all the people in the church being comfortable and able to pray over anyone, for God to meet their needs.

Why have ministry times so often?

In almost all of our meeting there will be time for ministry, this is because we believe that only God can change people and so we want to allow Him to.  We can teach and people may be inspired, but only the Holy Spirit will write on people’s heart, only He can change people and so we always try to give people a chance to respond to God through ministry.

It is not about being person-centred, but rather we want to allow God to do what He wants, to allow the Holy Spirit to move and pursue His agenda in the person’s life.  We see, in Acts 2, how the Holy Spirit transformed this group of weak men into bold preachers of the gospel, instantly.  Or we see, in Acts 4, how the disciples prayed and the Holy Spirit came on them and the result was that they spoke the word of God with boldness and grew in unity and were filled with power.  If we let God do what He wants, then who knows what He will do?

It is not necessarily a sign of weakness if someone goes forward for prayer a lot, as someone once said, “I am filled with the Holy Spirit, but I leak”.  Eph 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  In this passage, the verb “be filled” is in the “present continuous” tense, in other words it means “be being filled” or “keep being filled”.  We can see throughout the early church that the model that they used to enable God to fill someone with the Spirit was to lay hands on them – Acts 8:17,18,19; 9:17; 19:6.

Why do people do weird things during ministry?

Some people laugh, some people cry, some people fall over, some people shake and there are any number of strange things which happen when we come into contact with the power of God!  There is no doubt that some of it is “in the flesh”.  However, it is also definitely the case that a lot of it is God and the fruit is what is important (Matt 7:17-20) – have they been changed or healed?  There are many biblical examples of these strange phenomena:

Laughing Acts 13:52 – the disciples were “filled with joy” with the Holy Spirit – I suggest that “filled with joy” means that they were laughing!  There are several examples of this and even Jesus himself could be literally described as “jumping about in hysterics” in Luke 10:21.
Crying Luke 7 – the sinful woman, when she came into the presence of Jesus and knew His forgiveness and mercy she could not help but weep.
Falling over Revelation 1:12-19 – John could only fall down before Jesus.  In several other places we see people feeling so weak in the presence of God that they could not stand.
Shaking Jeremiah 23:9 – the prophet trembles from fear of God.  Exodus 19, 20 – the Israelites trembled at the presence of God in the camp.

How do we minister to people?

Jesus said that He could only do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19) and so, when we pray for people, we ask the Holy Spirit to come and we wait and see what He is doing.  Sometimes we could be waiting for a long time and not be saying anything.  When we do say anything we are really just wanting to get behind what God is doing rather than telling Him what we want Him to do and so we might just be saying “More Lord”.

As I have stated, we see the disciples and Jesus praying for people by laying hands on them.  The fact that this is a way that Jesus prayed, and the disciples did the same in Acts, suggests that this was a model which Jesus deliberately taught them.  There are examples of Jesus praying for people in different ways – like making mud cakes and putting them on a person’s eyes (John 9), spitting on someone’s tongue and putting His fingers in their ears (Mark 7), breathing on them (John 20).  However, the fact that the disciples are not recorded as employing any of these is clear indication that Jesus never modelled this or taught this as the way to pray for people.  I think that we can conclude that, unless God specifically tells us otherwise (and He may do), the way to minister to people is through the laying on of hands.

Who is on the ministry team?

Anyone who would consider this church their home, who is committed to a housegroup