Many pastors long to see their youth and young adults walk in power, healing and the prophetic, especially outside the church. No longer satisfied to build traditional youth ministries, they are stirred to impact their cities and regions. They long to see nearby campuses saturated in God’s glory, lives surrendered to Jesus and a culture reflecting the kingdom of God. For this vision to become a reality, however, they usually need a different set of tools. That’s why one of the most frequent questions I get from youth pastors is: “How can I release the supernatural in my ministry?”
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus makes it clear that one of the main keys to seeing God’s glory invade a city is a people shining their light—so those around encounter their works. That word works isn’t referring to everyday deeds, but rather what Jesus demonstrated throughout His ministry as the sick were healed, dead raised, lame walked and blind received sight. As we manifest God’s power by laying hands on the diseased, prophesying over the broken and radically loving the lonely, our light will blaze through the darkness.
If we’re going to empower young people to transform cities and campuses for Jesus, our methods must move beyond holding events to equipping lifestyles. As grateful as I am for the testimonies of the supernatural at our conferences, I’m only truly satisfied when I see these encounters multiply in and through the lives of the attendees when they return home. Though we’re still learning every day how to do this, here are a few keys we’ve discovered along the way that are especially pertinent to pastors.
1. Demonstrate God’s extravagant love. Healing, prophetic ministry, and signs and wonders are all extremely exhilarating. It’s an amazing experience when you lay hands on someone with scoliosis and watch as his back literally straightens out. As healings and prophecy begin to flow, however, it’s just as crucial that we contend for love toremain the core reason and motivation for ministering in power. Galatians 5:6 tells us that faith works through love. Faith to demonstrate the power of God flows through love. The kingdom we represent is founded in love, and we are called to display it not only in word, but also in power (see 1 Cor. 4:20). Signs and wonders are to point people toward a greater reality: the extravagant love of God. If we don’t equip our youth and young adults to ground their walk in love, healing becomes just another fad that’s temporarily fun, but with no lasting affect.
2. Teach that the anointing is for everyone. Whether your spiritual hero is John G. Lake, Oral Roberts or Kathryn Kuhlman, know that that same level of anointing is available to all who are hungry for it. My senior pastor, Bill Johnson, describes it this way: “God gives certain individuals a ‘spike’ in human experience, not so they can merely gather people around themselves to minister to them, but that they would be positioned with favor to equip the saints, so that their ‘high point’ becomes the new norm.” The anointing is available for everyone—young and old, extrovert and introvert, new and mature Christian. And as pastors, it’s a matter of nurturing that anointing when we ...
3. Make room. Our young people must be given the opportunity to step out in the anointing. Whether it’s having them pray for one another during a meeting or on their campuses, they need frequent opportunities to experience this reality. At our church we intentionally make room for the supernatural. In every service we pray for the sick and expect miracles. We have this same focus with the youth ministry, where my leaders and I model it and do it with the youth. We regularly give part of every meeting for words of knowledge, healing prayer, prophetic opportunities, etc.
I encourage you to reassess your agenda and rearrange your schedule to offer as many occasions as possible for your young people to lay hands on those in need of a physical healing. The more you make room for it in their lives, the more it will happen naturally elsewhere and become a lifestyle.
4. Develop a culture of risk. Recently a group of university students were frustrated by their lack of breakthroughs in seeing healing. These young adults were passionately “pressing in” to see healing, but never actually “stepping out” to pray for people. They were crying out for God to move—but they weren’t moving! Their mindset was one I see frequently: “If we persevere long enough in prayer, God’s anointing will surely fall from heaven and we’ll obtain results.”
Although I firmly believe we need to reach for a greater anointing, we each have an anointing to minister supernaturally available right now. But it requires us to position ourselves to take risks. When you’re faithful with what you currently have, the Lord entrusts you with more.
As leaders we are responsible for nurturing a ministry environment that both encourages and necessitates risk. In the midst of their insecurities, students thrive when we come alongside and call out the greatness in them as they take risks in the supernatural. If we expect young people to take such risks outside the walls of the church, we must give them opportunities inside the church to develop. And as they learn to venture out within in a safe environment, their confidence grows in public.
For example, train your young people in healing and the prophetic, and then push them to give words of knowledge or prophesy over their peers. When someone needs healing, ask your students to pray for the person. They might be scared and nervous, but stand with them and champion their courage.
You’ll likely find that many are afraid to fail. This is one of the main reasons why many youth and young adults never see God’s power demonstrated in their lives. They are frozen by the thought, “What if I step out and nothing happens?” This fear must be overcome. Strengthen them to conquer this fear.Many times the results we seek are on the other side of persistence. I’ve heard that John Wimber prayed for 1,000 people before he saw his first breakthrough in healing. The more young people take risks and God shows up in answer to their prayers, the more they will mature into expressing a supernatural lifestyle.