How to help people surrender their deeper issues to Jesus
Jesus came to set captives free. Whenever He taught, healed the sick, and ministered to crowds and individuals, He viewed each person as someone who was trapped and needed to be free—not as someone who was lazy and needed to try harder. The emphasis Jesus put on freedom throughout His ministry indicates just how important freedom ministry is.
Freedom ministry is far more than a one-time event; it’s a year-round, ongoing discipleship process. It engages people at an ever-deepening level and equips them to live in freedom and, ultimately, to become instruments of freedom in the lives of others.
When Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give,” He was teaching us that we give away whatever is within us. When we become carriers of freedom, it becomes contagious.
Our role as pastors and ministers is to help our people grow in their confidence and discernment as they learn to hear God. We’ve seen that good advice doesn’t tear down strongholds, but hearing God personally speak to you does. As people grow in their confidence, our job is to help them step into their true identity while God restores what’s been stolen from them.
One of the most significant aspects of freedom ministry is first and foremost to make sure that people aren’t in bondage to unbiblical definitions of freedom. Because our souls are hard-wired for freedom, we tend to steadily move toward anything we believe constitutes real freedom. We desire it so much that we work diligently for the wrong things in an effort to find freedom. I’ve discovered that most people define freedom as the absence of bad behavior. The Bible defines freedom quite differently.
Second Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (NKJV). According to that verse, freedom is not the absence of something; it is the presence of Someone. When we encourage people to embrace this and to allow God to go more deeply into the hidden places of their hearts, He pushes out the things they’ve failed to change.
To address this shift, we have to teach people what it means to seek first the kingdom of God (see Matt. 6:33). Jesus gave us a significant key here—what we see is that whatever we seek first will organize every other facet of our lives.
So if we seek first relief from pain or difficulty, then pain and difficulty become the organizing factor in our lives. If we seek first relief from demonic influence or emotional struggles, then demons and our emotions organize our lives. Conversely, if we seek first the kingdom of God, then His power takes its rightful place in our lives.
This shift in thinking moves people away from trying harder to change behavior or thoughts to learning to surrender to God. A key strategy to achieve this is training all participants in freedom ministry to hear and discern God’s voice for themselves. This allows people to function independently of ministers or counselors, and it urges them to connect with God.
At Gateway we’ve designed our freedom ministry to lead people into a meaningful encounter with God, believing that when people encounter God, their identity will be restored. We see men and women break free from chains in their lives—life-long struggles with addiction and demonic influences.
As these things fall away, people discover that freedom is simply the ability to live life as the man or woman they were created and redeemed to be and to spread that freedom to those around them.
Every part of the process in Gateway’s Freedom Ministry is available to all participants without any cost. It is our desire that we make the freedom Jesus offered available to anyone who will ask. Learn more about Gateway’s Freedom Ministry and view some of our free online resources at freedom.gatewaypeople.com.
Bob Hamp is executive pastor of pastoral care ministries at Gateway Church in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. He has a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and is a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist.