What Happens When Churches Embrace the Supernatural

What Happens When Churches Embrace the Supernatural

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In this interview, Carolyn Moore, author of Supernatural: Experiencing the Power of God’s Kingdom, discusses the emergence of her book and highlights her hopes for how it will equip the church to experience its high calling of supernatural living.

1. What does it mean to live a supernatural faith? What does this have to do with God’s kingdom as preached by Jesus and the apostles?

Jesus commissioned his followers to carry out supernatural ministry. It was never his intention to send out social workers with a message who merely tended to physical needs while talking about a loving God. They were sent out with power and authority to cast out demons, cure diseases, proclaim the Kingdom and heal the sick. There is nothing subtle or ambiguous about that commission. Clearly, we were meant to follow a supernatural God into the world to promote a supernatural movement. So this is our call, to take seriously the role of supernatural ministry empowered by a supernatural God. And I believe this is the missing ingredient of most contemporary churches. We’ve got good social work, kind hospitality, educated teaching. But are we offering the one thing no other institution is qualified to offer this world? Are we offering the kind of power that only Jesus can bring to bear on brokenness? Friends, I believe he has called us just as surely as he has called the first followers to assume faith in a supernatural God who longs to expose his glory and cast out darkness. I believe so strongly that those who follow Jesus are called to be in partnership with a supernatural God who does supernatural things.

2. How long has this book been on your heart & mind, and what finally brought it to fruition now?

The list of files in my computer with this passage attached is long! I first preached the commission in Luke 9:1-2 more than ten years ago, and I’ve been kind of obsessed with it since. It just seems to me that if this is where Jesus transferred the mission to his followers, then what he commissioned them to do ought to have our attention. This is what Jesus means for followers to do: to engage the spiritual realm and do battle with the forces of evil and carriers of death; to heal the things that destroy people’s lives; and to do this within the context of the good news about a life-giving Messiah. That is a powerful formula for effectively carrying the gospel into the world. Luke goes on to paint a picture for us of all the ways that commission takes shape among the disciples. It is a beautiful depiction of what it means to follow Jesus into the world.

3. For those who haven’t read the work yet, can you explain where this book lands in terms of being born out of personal study or lived experience?

A few years ago, I made the decision to stop sharing stories of miracles with which I didn’t have some personal connection. It seemed somehow like cheating to me to keep telling stories of great moves happening in other places among people whose names I didn’t know. I told God at the time that I would no longer be satisfied with less than a first-person experience of his supernatural power. I began to lean into that and pray for God to move among the people I serve in the same way I’d heard about him moving in other places. Since leaning in, I and those I serve have encountered God’s power in miraculous ways. I’ve seen physical healings, a much greater harvest of inner healings, and an outpouring of prophetic intercession that has born great fruit. That choice has not only breathed life into my own faith, but it has given me a much stronger sense of God’s desire to heal, save and deliver people from the powers that hold them back.

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4. Why do you believe so many in the church are skeptical or apathetic about living an integrated faith that expects God to work regularly? How would you encourage those that are, as you say in your book, practicing unholy hesitation?

Those unholy hesitations are nothing new. From the earliest days of God’s story, we have had a rebellious bent toward wanting to do it ourselves. We’re like perpetual toddlers in that way. We want what we want, when we want it, in the way that creates the least amount of tension for ourselves. We’d rather build our own towers to heaven than trust God to come down. But history proves that towers of our own making don’t work. Meanwhile, stories are surfacing all over the world of God’s inbreaking power. He is choosing to move among people who have never known Jesus, even without our intervention.

Even with negative pressure against those who convert, the Indian government estimates that approximately 250,000 Indians become followers of Jesus every year. Christian leaders estimate something closer to 10,000 converts a day (or 3.5 million a year). What is happening in Iran now with the underground house-church movement is astonishing. We are discovering that Jesus is not the problem for most of the rest of the world. It is western Christian culture that seems to be the lagging strength. And that may be a problem not just for those who don’t yet know, but for us, too. Think about it. If we are honest, many of us in the U.S. who follow Jesus probably function more as Americans than as Christians. In other words, we equate faith in Jesus with our own culture.

But becoming a disciple of Jesus means becoming more like Jesus, not more like the culture! Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that I might win some.” Separating Christ from the culture gives people a chance to see Jesus for who he really is. And where that is happening, Christ is being glorified.

5. Is it possible to be overly oriented to the supernatural? How would you advise those who are pursuing but struggling to see the supernatural work of God in specific circumstances?

For a 21st-century American, I don’t think there is much danger in us going too far over the line of supernatural ministry. We have a long way to go before we get there. Our greater danger is of pursuing supernatural ministry strictly for selfish purposes, in order to get things or recognition for ourselves.

I hunger to see a move of God that goes after his presence, love and power for the pure purpose of encountering him. Not so we can get something from him, but simply for who God is. And I can tell you with much conviction in my spirit that God is looking for a deeper relationship with us, is thirsting for us in a more profound way than we are thirsting for him. This awesome and loving God wants us to be close, trusting, and under his care and love and grace—not for the purpose of what we get from him, but for the sheer fact of his glory.

When we get that this is the goal, it puts us directly in line with a God who has all the power in the universe at his command. This is what it means to go deep. This is why God deserves the center of our lives. This God who is bigger than everything we can see and bigger than everything we can’t see is waiting for us to depend wholly and completely on him. To be holy because he is. I am praying that we as followers of Jesus would become more hungry to go after God because he is glorious, rather than going after him only because he is useful.

6. How would the life of the church look different if it fully embraced what you propose is God’s promise (and commission) in his Word? What difference would it make in our world?

In the study, we address sections of Luke 9 that deal with the more subtle side effects of supernatural ministry. For instance, when Jesus sends people out to cast out demons, cure disease, proclaim the Kingdom and heal the sick, he warns them against hanging out too long in places where they aren’t welcomed. He sends them out empty-handed—tells them not to take anything with them, not to be self-sufficient on this mission trip but to take only power and authority of God. But then he tells them to depend on the hospitality of those to whom they are sent. So right off the bat, we see the connection between good hospitality and the power of God. Since they are taking nothing with them, this supernatural work of the disciples will only work if their hosts receive and care for them. Jesus tells his people that if they aren’t welcomed in a town, if their needs are not covered, they should keep on walking.

I’m taken by that connection between hospitality and supernatural power. Seven times in chapter nine, Luke uses the word “welcome.” He gives instructions for what to do when you’re not welcome, then he gives us a picture of the radical welcome of Jesus. It isn’t a picture of Jesus with a leper, or Jesus loving on someone no one else likes or wants to touch or be seen touching. It is a picture of Jesus making space — even when he was tired, even when his followers were tired — for the outliers and the ones who were hungry for what no one but Jesus could offer.

When the Church fully embraces this Luke 9 commission in the way Jesus portrays it, the church will be so deeply changed. It ought to be the most welcoming place on earth, and the safest. Jesus’ welcome doesn’t strip the Church of its theology. It just clothes it in the radical welcome of the Kingdom.

I happen to live in the third most churched city in the country. Number three! The second most churched city is Salt Lake City, Utah, so if you take the Mormons out of this equation, then Augusta, Georgia the second most churched city In the country, according to a survey conducted by George Barna. By his definition of “churched,” 57% of our population attends church regularly. Let that stat sink in: 57% of the population attending church puts us in the top three nationally. That means in my community 43% of people have no church. Unless you’re living in the number one city, you have even more people who have no church.

As it turns out, Seattle is among the least churched cities in the U.S. It is #7 on the list of unchurched cities, but it ranks second as a city with the most church buildings — one church building for every 481 people. That means that having a church building—even a great, new church building, is not the same as housing cloud and fire. It is not the same as embracing supernatural power to transform a community.

If we were to begin living out what we believe and expressing a practical faith in God’s supernatural power to transform lives and communities, just imagine how that would impact the world. In fact, we don’t even have to imagine it. We can read about it in the Bible. In those early days of the Christian movement, the world was shaken by the powerful witness of supernatural ministry being practiced throughout the known world. And even today, the fastest growing and most influential Christian movements in the world have a pentecostal character to them.

I preach the gospel of Jesus Christ because I believe it is life-giving, and I absolutely believe that as more preachers and teachers of the Word insist on nothing less than a supernatural gospel, the world will be changed by that.

7. How can churches or groups use your book and video series?

In the introduction of the study, we’re told that this book was written for maximum flexibility. It is 40 lessons that can be used as a 40-day study for an individual or group, or as an 8-week small group study, accompanied by the video teachings. With other studies, I’ve often heard feedback from groups telling me they take longer to get through all the material. Going slower and going deeper works, too! Some groups may choose to take one lesson per week, and use some of their time together to actually practice supernatural ministry and intercessory or healing prayer with each other. I love that idea, actually. I so want this material to move from head to heart, and to transform the lives of those who walk through it. Let’s pray together for a mighty wave of the Holy Spirit to sweep across our land and renew our Church.

There’s no substitute for the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Maybe you’ve grown dissatisfied with the weak distractions offered both by our culture and, oftentimes, our churches. When it all sinks in, spirituality and ministry without the Holy Spirit is hollow.

Join Carolyn Moore in rediscovering the supernatural! With a biblical basis and practical application, you’ll learn how to work alongside the Spirit, and you’ll become watchful for the powerful in-breakings of God’s kingdom all around you.

Get the Supernatural book and video resource from our store here.