Let me offer five simple steps to pastors and leaders in local churches who are sensing the need to begin a healing ministry in their local church.
1. Pray—and don’t be in a hurry.
Take several months in seeking the Lord’s direction before you do anything. If there are others in the congregation who feel the need for a greater emphasis on healing, join in praying with them. Remember Jesus, the Lord of your church, wants to see this happen more than you do. If you will wait on him, he will lead you and guide you as to when and how to proceed in a way that is right for your particular church context.
2. Prepare your congregation.
Let them know that you are going to be focusing on healing in the months ahead. Start with alerting your church leadership, then inform the congregation as a whole. If you are a pastor, you could preach a sermon on healing emphasizing how central healing was in the ministry of Jesus and how his healing ministry continues through the church today. Have someone share a healing testimony if possible.
It’s also wise to set healing in the context of your church tradition. If you are congregation in the Wesleyan tradition, for example, show them how healing has been part and parcel of our original DNA. Because some in your congregation may have had bad experiences related to healing ministry, it is important to assure them that you plan to move slowly. Say something like this, “We believe Jesus loves and understands our congregation and has a particular way in which he wants us to partner with him in his healing ministry. Our desire is to not to impose something foreign, but to discover what is right for us—no more, no less.”
3. Teach about healing in your community.
There are many ways you can do this. If you are a pastor, you could preach a series of sermons on healing. You could also combine that with a church-wide study of healing. To make it possible to do this, Seedbed has designed a wonderful church resource kit to go along with my book, Follow the Healer, which contains sermon outlines, videos, group discussion questions, etc. In addition to that there are lots of other excellent resources like Larry Eddings, Anointed to Heal or David Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions that small groups or Sunday School classes could use to focus on healing.
4. Create opportunities for healing prayer.
It’s not enough to study and teach about healing. You have to start “doing the stuff,” as John Wimber liked to say, by engaging in healing prayer. You could start with something as simple as this: After they have received the elements during a service of Holy Communion, invite those who desire to receive anointing and prayer for healing from one of the designated persons or a prayer teams stationed in the sanctuary. Or you could invite people to come to the altar following the worship service to receive prayer for healing needs.
Why not encourage small group leaders to include prayers for healing during their regular group prayer times? Or you could announce that once a quarter you are going to conduct a healing service at a designated time and place. You could include occasional healing testimonies in your worship service. All of these are simple ways to begin creating opportunities for healing prayer.
5. Equip those involved in healing ministry.
As you begin to focus on healing in your church, particular persons will be drawn to healing ministry. Often they are the persons endowed with spiritual gifts related to healing. As you identify such persons, it is important that you equip and train them for healing ministry. There is much to learn about both the how-to’s and the why-to’s of engaging in healing prayer. I’ve written Follow the Healer particularly to offer such persons a sound biblical and theological framework for their healing prayer ministry.
Fortunately, there are lots of resources in terms of books, workshops, and courses that can go a long way in equipping persons for healing ministry. I highly recommend the in-depth training offered by Christian Healing Ministries, Jacksonville, Florida and Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International, Black Mountain, North Carolina. You will find information about such opportunities on their websites
Well, there is much more I could say, but I believe these are five simple steps that will help a congregation get started in healing ministry. Always remember that this is primarily Jesus’s ministry of healing, not ours. He is looking for persons and congregations who will join him in this ongoing ministry. When we do, we will find ourselves on the edge of an exciting adventure as we partner with him.
Author Stephen Seamands draws upon four decades of teaching theology and active involvement in healing ministry to help us understand the essential theological foundations for healing ministry in a way that is accessible to all Christians.
If you’re interested in learning more about healing prayer and healing ministry, Seamands’s new book Follow the Healer: Biblical and Theological Foundations for Healing Ministry is the ideal resource. This will encourage you to engage in simple, faithful healing ministry that is grounded in a holistic understanding of the person. It will also help you appreciate the compassionate optimism of God’s healing power while accounting for the mystery of suffering in our fallen creation. The greatest takeaway is that healing ministry belongs to Jesus, so all of the pressure around results rest on him. Jesus’s faithfulness through the diverse ways he heals invites confidence and participation alongside him.
This resource is perfect for:
- Prayer ministry teams
- Healing ministry teams
- Small group leaders
- Missionaries and evangelists
- Pastors and Students
- Individual study
Learn more and pre-order it from our store here (September, 2023). We have also developed a church kit to help entire communities explore the invitation to participate in Jesus’s healing ministry. Explore the church kit here.