Even so, ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
I Corinthians 14:12 (KJV)
Assuming that we do acknowledge that all of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit are indeed in God’s Design for the Church in this age (and every age until Jesus returns), and assuming that we do zealously desire all of these operations of the Holy Spirit and that we desire them for Biblical Godly motives, there are several keys that I have learned over three decades of ministry that will help you pastor and orchestrate the operations of the Spirit in your local congregation. Most of these principles I learned from others and then adapted to my own local situation. I will always be grateful for the Godly teaching and example of my father in ministry, Apostle Melvin L. Tisdale. Also I learned much about pastoring the flow of the Spirit in larger gatherings by observing Pastor John H. Osteen. No matter how large the church grew under his anointed leadership, there was always a consistent and powerful demonstration of the Holy Spirit. It is my understanding that Pastor (John) Osteen learned much about the Manifestation Gifts from his association with Pastor J.R. Goodwin, who for years led First Assembly of God in Pasadena, TX. I’m also thankful for the teaching and example of men and women such as Kenneth E. Hagin, Charles and Francis Hunter and Dr. Ron Smith (all of whom are now in Heaven). And many years ago, Linda and I moved into a deeper ministry through tongues and interpretation of tongues through the direct influence of our dear friend Joe Jordan. I wanted to acknowledge all of these who have impacted my life, plus all of the others that I do not have room here to name, simply to emphasize that none of us knows it all, and we must always remember that we stand on the shoulders of the “giants” who have gone before us.
Here are some powerful principles to help you pastor the Manifestation Gifts more effectively in your local congregation:
- Teach on the Manifestation Gifts from the Word of God. Identify the various operations of the Spirit and give Biblical examples that illustrate how they might function. Also include personal examples from your own ministry or observation to reinforce the lesson. If we want our people to have faith for the Manifestation Gifts to operate, they must be taught about them from the Bible (Rom. 10:17). If you need help in this area, there are many tremendous resources available.
- Model the operation of the Manifestation Gifts with excellence before your people. Paul encouraged the Church to reproduce what they had seen operate in him (Philip. 4:9). I began to prophesy and interpret tongues through the example of Apostle Tisdale. God launched me into the healing ministry through observing Joe Jordan at a FGBMFI (some of you are old enough to remember what that was) meeting in a hotel ballroom in Alexandria, LA. The supernatural of God can be taught, learned, and sensitivity developed through practice and experience. We must have not only Biblical teaching on the subject (which is vitally important), but also Godly examples of excellence (I Cor. 11:1).
- Establish a clearly defined protocol (“minhag”) for the releasing of the Manifestation Gifts in your local assembly. Don’t just assume your people know what to do and how to do it. Clarify exactly who has permission to release Gifts of the Spirit in your public worship services, and how those who might someday be used in this way by the Lord might seek and receive permission. I NEVER allowed people who might be visiting the church to stand and attempt to take over the service with a “prophecy” (I Thess. 5:12). There was an established “protocol of the house” in place, and unless the Holy Spirit specifically led me as pastor to do otherwise in a specific situation (which was extremely rare), we did not violate it. The Holy Spirit will never lead you to violate those guidelines HE put into place in the pages of inspired Scripture, but He might sometimes lead you to violate the guidelines that YOU put into place. But absent a specific leading of the Spirit we followed our local “minhag.” Those who had permission to move in the Spirit in the congregation we pastored for many years knew what to do when they believed they had something from the Lord to share with the assembly. Pastor, it is your responsibility to set and enforce those local guidelines. One reason that some in our congregations do not release Manifestation Gifts is because they are concerned they might do so at the wrong time or in the wrong way. Clear instruction from you will go a long way toward alleviating that concern.
- Spend quality time training key leaders to move in the Spirit. Disciple those key leaders in “closed” group sessions, pray with them in the Spirit, and give them opportunity to release various Manifestation Gifts under your observation and supervision. Then, as you feel they are ready, give them permission to move in the public worship setting. Seeing others beside the pastor move in the Spirit, whom the pastor has personally trained, will be a great encouragement to the rest of the congregation. Also the people that we pastored were confident that even if Pastor Jeff was out of town preaching elsewhere, someone that I had personally trained would be delegated to interpret utterances in tongues in my absence and otherwise evaluate and orchestrate spiritual manifestations. To be honest, judging by the stellar reports I received after being absent, our church often had an even greater move of the Spirit when I was gone. What a testimony to the faithfulness of God!
- Establish the Principle of Honor. It seems to be a spiritual “law” that what you honor you draw to you and what you dishonor you push from you. If we truly desire greater manifestations of the Holy Spirit then we must honor Him and all of the ways in which He might move. In teaching over the years on dreams and how to better understand them, I have encouraged those who claimed to never dream to simply buy a dedicated notebook and pen and leave it on the bedside table. This notebook would be used for nothing but to record the details of any dreams that might come. By so doing, the person would be “honoring” the dream as one possible way that God might speak. This symbolic act of faith, simple as it is, resulted in many who thought they never dreamed returning to testify that they had begun to remember their dreams upon waking and were now writing them down in that notebook. Often a symbolic act can become a faith catalyst to launch us into a deeper realm.
For some years I participated in the “Kansas City Forum” with my dear friends Dr. Ron Smith and Joe Jordan. There was always a rich flow of the Holy Spirit. However, Bro. Joe was impressed to place an empty chair on the panel to symbolize that the Holy Spirit was recognized as the real “chairman” of the Forum. Even though the gatherings had always been tremendous, this simple symbolic act of honor launched the meeting into another level.
In our congregation I had a microphone placed in a specific “spot” where those who had permission to do so could come forward and stand near when they had something from the Lord. By so doing, I was symbolically declaring that the Holy Spirit had the prominent “voice” in all that we did.
Another way that pastors can “honor” the move of the Spirit is by calling attention to something that was said in the prophecy or in the interpretation of tongues. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to rehash the entire utterance (they should all be recorded anyway and transcribed as a symbolic act of honor), but there will be some aspect of that utterance, some “nugget” if you will, that will catch your attention. When the utterance is finished, mention that specific aspect of it to the congregation and comment briefly on it. So many times in Pentecostal churches the service goes right on after an interpretation of tongues or a prophecy as though it had not even happened. We certainly never intended it this way, but it’s almost as though we have said, “So what if God just spoke. We have an agenda to finish so we can beat the other churches to the buffet.” When we honor the various ways that God might want to communicate with us, we position ourselves to receive a deeper and richer operation of them. Sometimes a symbolic action can be the catalyst that unlocks that next level.
It is my prayer that you have received something beneficial from these postings. May God’s Richest and Best be vitally yours as you fulfill His Purpose in the Earth. Be Blessed!