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Leading a Receiving Time
By Tim Enloe with others
The thought of leading a receiving time could start a spiritual panic attack for some! Leaders can easily struggle with fears when it comes to bringing others into what we have experienced ourselves. After all, it’s not as if we’re teaching them algebra or how to build a birdhouse; there are no pat formulas or recipes that guarantee success every time. We’re simply trying to help others receive a supernatural experience that cannot be fully understood by natural processes.
The following comments are for those who will lead a small group receiving time or church altar service. Your responsibility and attitude should be the same regardless of the venue.
Be a Leader
The outcome of a receiving time can be determined by a leader’s sense of responsibility. If a leader tries to shoulder the responsibility for everyone in the room to receive—and gauges his or her personal worth on that indicator—he or she can be overwhelmingly discouraged. On the other hand, a leader who throws all of the responsibility on the people and is proud, cavalier, or desensitized to others’ feelings can inflict much damage on seekers.
I preached my first sermon when I was sixteen to a group at a retirement center. I was scared to death and couldn’t figure out what to preach about until my dad gave me his usual dose of wise counsel, “Do you know what God wants to accomplish in the service?” he asked. “If you can find that out and then preach about it, it will happen.” That may sound overly pragmatic, but the advice has served me well over the years. You have been directed by God to minister on this subject, so do it! It will happen.
We often feel more comfortable in leading others to understanding (teaching/preaching) than we do in leading them into experiencing (receiving). After all, the first is concrete and the second seems more abstract. But we must help people both understand and experience this gift by leading them to the Baptizer and letting Him do the miracle in their lives.
As leaders, our responsibility is not to “get people Spirit baptized,” but rather, to lead people to the place where they can receive. Our goal is for people to encounter the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in a new and often dramatic way.
Ken Cramer adds:
Comprehension brings alignment. If you teach about the Spirit baptism so that seekers can comprehend it, they will begin to align themselves so that they’re ready to receive. They can say, “I see it in the Word and I’m ready for Him to take me to the next level.” The number one problem resulting in disappointed seekers is ministers who strong-arm a response rather than instruct from the Word and let the Spirit do the rest. Once people wrap their minds around what God is making available to them by the baptism in the Spirit, you won’t be able to chase them away from receiving Him.
Sometimes our own problems can hinder us from being the spiritual leader we need to be. Allen Griffin addresses how we can overcome this obstacle to spiritual leadership:
I believe that the most important consideration when leading an altar service is personal preparation. Many times ministers or altar workers can find themselves in difficult and even strange situations if they are not prepared to minister with clean hands and a pure heart. I know this might sound trivial, but it is not. Being sidetracked by personal issues, insecurities, and sin can derail even the most powerful altar services. We must deal with our personal issues and problems and let them be settled. Then the Lord will enable us to move on in ministry.
The altar service is about the seeker, not us. How we feel and our stories of tragedy or triumph can only misalign our purpose. Keep the subject matter and attention on those who are seeking. Fasting and prayer get us personally and corporately prepared to minister to others and open lines of communication for God to speak through us. Allowing ourselves to be emptied of selfishness gives us the ability to be ready for God’s use. Praying God’s Word is much more valuable than a story or anecdote of our own experience that may or may not apply to a seeker’s situation.
This article was excerpted from Helping Others Receive the Gift, compiled and edited by Tim Enloe. To purchase this book, click here.