Miracles are weird, they disrupt our world, they make us vulnerable, they renew … and their presence in the history of a church that believes in God, in a God who in the Bible (at least) displayed powers in such a way that everyone thought they were miracles, and we believe in a Lord Jesus who seemed to do a miracle a day. Just read Mark 1. Yet, apart from the charismatic types, who do claim more miracles than many of us are comfortable with, most of us don’t do or see miracles. Back again, we claim to follow Jesus and Jesus did miracles and we want to be disciples and the original disciples did miracles. So…
What do you tell people when they ask you why most don’t experience miracles today?
Is there a guide? Jordan Seng, in a book from IVP, Miracle Work: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Supernatural Ministries, provides a guide and the book is filled with stories of miraculous events/experiences. And he has an explanation of why there are so few miracles: “groups of believers frequently figure out how do to supernatural ministry, but they have a hard time figuring out how to live with the ministry. Revivals come with great exhilaration and fruitfulness; downturns come when people tire of the level of weirdness, vulnerability and sacrifice that supernatural ministry demands” (26). That how you’d explain it?
Irenaeus witnessed miracles; Origen did; Athanasius too (St. Anthony was his example); Augustine dismissed them and then experienced them…. John Wesley… Jonathan Edwards… Francis Asbury…
Seng says some are more oriented toward the conservative preservation while others are more open to the new and powerful.
His words: “Kingdom work has always been more about devotion than expertise, and the pursuit of God’s empowerment always draws us into God’s heart” (30).
Seng says it’s about power not about methods and techniques. Growth in power is his witness to supernatural ministry. He has (admittedly cheesy) formula:
Authority + Gifting + Faith + Consecration = Power.
He has a wonderful story, odd to boot with an abundance of dry – ahem, sarcastic – wit, and I’d say this book is the charismatic power book of the decade. Impressive. Best book on miracle working I’ve ever read.
Now some advice of his for pastors:
1. You can’t lead supernatural ministries from behind.
2. It’s about developing God’s powers.
3. Use small groups for practice and training.
4. Avoid telling secondhand stories.
5. Be open about mistakes and failures.
6. Create a culture that honors risks.