Something uncomfortable usually happens at my church. Somewhere in the day, I will be praying a third time for an injury to be healed and wait as they check to see if the pain is gone; or be perplexed by a testimony that is almost too good to be true; or be left in a somewhat confused conversation with God about what I have seen or heard—and I am one of the leaders.
Being in a healing/revival environment can be uncomfortable for pastors. We tend to operate in our strengths of bringing comfort and care, order and answers, and connection and protection. Uncomfortable stuff makes people feel, well, uncomfortable; so we usually try to keep it at a minimum.
But if—and when—the community catches the kingdom mentality that anything is possible with God and sets its collective heart on worldwide transformation and the healing goodness of the heavenly Father, we’re all regularly drawn into experiences for which we have no grid and, perhaps, even little inclination.
We celebrate testimonies of people being raised from the dead. We love to read them in the Bible. I ministered to the family of one of our people who had died in an accident. I have experienced grieving with families, helping them with a memorial and inviting God’s grace to move them forward.
What I had not experienced before was the family and church’s intention to faithfully pray for his resurrection. The leadership had been talking about raising the dead and now the people wanted to do it and were looking for the go-ahead. I authentically prayed with them while talking to the Lord, “God I have faith for this. I can see it happening. It would be awesome! But I don’t know how to handle this. When and how do I move the family toward a service since there has been no miracle yet?”
As I preached the memorial, people were standing at the coffin praying for him, and we invited those attending to pray as well. No miracle. So we ministered to the family and community who grieved the loss and the lack of a miracle they truly believed would come. I was privileged to walk with mireacle-believing believers come what may, but it was not comfortable.
Around here we have a phrase “pastoring wildfire,” and by that we mean we won’t have expectant, advancing Christians unless people are empowered to humbly listen to God and take risks. It is wild, passionate faith that steps beyond reason and leads to places way outside “my box.”
Healing the sick, casting out demons, prophesying, creating justice and even loving the unlovely is risky business. People will attempt some very great and some very “not so great” things in the name of God if you tell them they can. Sometimes you don’t know which is which until it is over, so it makes no sense to try to control it from the beginning.
In some awkward situations, the Lord checks me, and where I used to charge right in to manage things so everybody else would feel safe, I now wait. Lord, I hope you know what You’re doing, I think. Other times, I can sense I need to intercept it right away, which leads to uncomfortable conversations:
“Hey there! Great faith, bad plan. You’re not in trouble. How can we do it differently?”
“Hi. Love the risk-taking, but please don’t do that here. It might be God, but it is too far outside my box at this point. Thanks.”
“Yes, we want you empowered, but that was too much power too soon, and not very humble; that’s why we are talking. It’s OK. These sorts of talks are normal.”
One of the blessings of this environment is that we are a team, and we share the load with the whole congregation. We all attempt to live the supernatural life together in all its spectacular successes and awkward failures. We are amazed together and perplexed together. And we laugh together. A lot. Especially when it gets uncomfortable.
Dann Farrelly has been a part of the senior leadership team at Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., for the past 20 years. He also serves as the dean of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.