Creating Healthy Revelatory Greenhouses for Children: For Families, Schools, and Churches

What could it look like for Families, Churches, and Schools to develop healthy revelatory greenhouses for children? Here are some ideas that I’m still unpacking, but eager to discuss further.

What is Supernatural Ministry?

I am writing today to explore several principles that should apply to Supernatural Ministry with youth (0-18s).

Based on the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Mark 16:15-18, I am defining Supernatural Ministry as ministry that includes:

  • the gift of wisdom
  • word of knowledge
  • the gift of faith (can relate to Intercession)
  • healing
  • miracles
  • discernment of spirits
  • diverse tongues
  • interpretation of tongues
  • deliverance ministry

In the remainder of this post, I will refer to these forms of ministry as “the gifts”, for simplicity’s sake.

Why not just focus on one kind of Supernatural Ministry?

While I often write about Prophetic ministry on this portfolio, in this post I am intentionally not focusing solely on Prophetic ministry. I do this for several reasons.

Individual Gifts are Calling-Specific

The first reason is that each person’s calling is specific and in some ways, pre-determined. That means that adults can introduce children to the gifts, but they cannot force them to specialize in a particular area. Ultimately, a child’s calling belong’s to God, not adults.

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:11

God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Romans 11:29

Ideally, Adults should aim to provide a safe, biblical, emotionally healthy environment where children and God can mutually encounter one another and develop friendship. From that place of friendship, God will continue to guide young believers into their particular callings and remits of influence. He is limitlessly creative in the callings he has designed for each individual. For example, you could be called as a Shepherd to digital media and have a ministry of inner and external healing through your work. You could be called as an evangelist through athletics and operate in the gift of faith when it comes to unlikely victories. The Lord may call you to specific continents, nations, or people groups within nations. In God’s own timing, he can unpack all those details.

It is important that adults come alongside youth in the exploration process without pressuring them to grow faster or rushing ahead of the process God is doing in the individual. Especially for nations who struggle with over-performance, families and organizations will have to be even more mindful to actively entrust their youth to the Lord and let him lead.

So when can Young People get further training in specific spiritual gifts (like prophecy)?

When God demonstrates a pattern of speaking to child or teen in a specific way, they will likely develop a hunger to learn more about it. Paying attention to individual children’s hunger levels is important, because without hunger they may not yet be ready to pursue their callings further. Just because you have an inherent ability to excel at piano doesn’t mean you will develop an interest in it from an early age. You may need years of observing pianists, guitarists, saxophonists, etc before you start to realize that piano has a distinct sound that resonates deeply with who you are. Furthermore, it may take a few years of piano lessons before you feel ready to pursue piano at state or regional training opportunities.

God values children’s holistic wellbeing. He made each part of them to work in synchrony to know and be known by him.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:5

Spiritual gifts are only one part of each child’s unique composition. In order to grow in Christ, it may be more important for a child with latent spiritual gifts to develop their capacity to speak respectively to a sibling, share school supplies, or learn not to retaliate during conflict. Does that mean that a child who is struggling with developmental milestones or social skills should not learn to prophecy when they have a noticeable gift for it? No, not necessarily.

There will not be a straightforward, “one size fits all” answer to “When should my child get focused training in prophetic ministry/healing ministry/work of knowledge/etc?” Parents in partnership with their children, church, and educational leaders will need to discern the right timing each individual. No matter how young a child begins to learn, parents and leaders must have reason to believe that the child genuinely desires to learn. Parents are free to share examples of ministries with their children and support their children’s genuine curiosity. But parents should act with a healthy fear of the Lord not to stir up gifts in a child before the right time OR steer them in a direction that violates their child’s free will.

If children feel pressured into spiritual gifts, how will they later make sense of a religion and a Savior that requires an individual choice?

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you.

Psalm 63:1

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10

Rather than coercion, it is better to lead children with genuine humility and awe for everything God does. When adults are hungry for more of God, their children will catch it. As children pursue the Giver and not the gift, they will fall in love.

Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

Exodus 15:11

All my bones will exclaim, “Who is like You, O LORD, who delivers the afflicted from the aggressor, the poor and needy from the robber?”

Psalm 35:10

The LORD is exalted over all the nations,

His glory above the heavens.

5Who is like the LORD our God,

the One enthroned on high?

6He humbles Himself to behold

the heavens and the earth.

7He raises the poor from the dust

and lifts the needy from the dump

8to seat them with nobles,

with the princes of His people.

9He settles the barren woman in her home

as a joyful mother to her children.

Hallelujah!

Psalm 113:4-9

The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 103:19

My ears had heard of You,

but now my eyes have seen You.

6Therefore I retract my words,

and I repent in dust and ashes

Job 42:5-6

The Gifts of a Community can Change

There is a second reason I am writing this post about “Supernatural Ministry”, and not just prophecy.

When God sovereignly deposits new gifts within a community as a response to their hunger, the Holy Spirit once again freely apportions. He may choose to add a deeper revelation of the gifts he has already given to a community and to baptize new individuals in them (as a progressive revelation of individual calling), OR he can do something wildly new and different. Once again, it is up to God. Communities should be careful not to idolize past moves of God or get so attached to one particular kind of gift that they do not leave room for God to shock them.

Does that mean it’s wrong for organizations specialize in one kind of Supernatural Ministry training?

As long as organizations are built on an apostolic leadership structure, there is nothing wrong with having an organic specialization based on the gifts God has released over your region/nation. However, organizations who realize that they specialize in one area of 5 fold ministry should create partnerships with nations and regions who carry different anointings so that the international Body of Christ can be as robust as possible.

More important than trying to pre-determine the gifts God wants to release in our nations and spaces, we must remain in a posture of awe and gratitude. Especially at a time in history where God moves powerfully and unexpectedly, we should expect surprises. Awe and gratitude will allow us to respond humbly and fluently when plans change.

Be prepared in season and out of season.

2 Timothy 4:2

We should prepare for manifestations/mantles that may be a combination of gifts, or are shaped significantly differently than our previous options. When that happens, we should all just be on our knees and follow God’s leadership in how we navigate it.

General Principles

So then, what are some precepts that can help adults create healthy revelatory greenhouses for youth?

1. Come with Expectation

Awe, intimacy with God, and worshipful appreciation of Jesus’ beauty are caught, not taught. When adults pursue Jesus as their first love and put him first in the middle of work and family responsibilities, children value God. He is unconditionally worthy of our affection and adoration. Because of their age and often in spite of trauma, many children are inclined to relate to the innocence, joy, hope, and fascinating beauty of Jesus.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 19:14

Whether you are young or old, God already wants to draw close to you. He wants to pull you into his abundant life, transform your family, and create a Kingdom of God culture within your organization. He wants to invite you into lasting partnership and share himself with you on the journey.

From a surrendered place of worship, the Lord will show up. He already wants to come close to our communities and invites our children to get to know him.

2. Let God Lead

In order to help children set healthy expectations for what it means to encounter God, adults must allow God to decide how he wants to move within a space. As adults, our focus should be helping children make sense of what they are experiencing and perceiving, not micromanaging the experience.

Lord, would you give us the humility to notice when we have put false responsibility on our young people to encounter you in a particular way. Give us the grace and humility to cede to how you want to move.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

Ecclesiastes 11:5

Whether youth are encountering God in person or through virtual small groups; whether they are in a large worship environment, a classroom, or in public, we must cast a wide net. Casting a wide net means both allowing various entry points to support youth who have a limited or extensive experience with supernatural ministry or Christianity in general. Regardless of context, young people will have a range of ability levels based on their design, developmental stage, and calling.

Adults should celebrate all spiritual growth and be genuinely grateful for everything Jesus does within a space. “More of God” will look different for each child. As adults make room for God, he will gradually reveal different callings. Young adults and their families should enjoy the exploration process without trying to rush it or steer it into a particular form of ministry or sector of society. God has dynamic and marvelous plans for each child. If adults and children earnestly seek after Jesus as their most important thing and relationally pursue, he will route our children without striving.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Proverbs 3:5-6

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Increasing intimacy with Jesus may not immediately look like success in the eyes of the world. Instead of measuring children’s growth by performance outcomes, leaders, parents, and youth workers must train them to value Jesus’s “Well done, Good and Faithful servant.” We must challenge our children to delight in the joy that comes with obedience, that they would most treasure being spoken well of by God.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23

3. Equip Youth to Discern

While they may be young, children’s discernment can be equally as sharp as adults’.

Adults should aim to provide a safe, biblical, emotionally healthy environment where children and God can mutually encounter one another and develop friendship.

Instead of screening every threat or un-ethical source of media and culture, Christians should teach their children how to analyze sources for the amount of alignment they have with their family, school, or church’s values. These conversations are fundamental to helping children wrestle with good and evil and have the scaffolding (support) necessary to respond.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Matthew 10:16

Instead, the Church must provide resources so that children can discern good and evil for themselves. This can be as simple as training youth to consider the ethical implications of their video games: What characters are like Jesus? Which characters are least like Jesus and why? What message does this source communicate about the worth of human beings? Are there bible stories that connect to this same theme?

Through conversation and modeling engagement with the outside culture, the Church will teach children to speak knowledgeably and clearly about their values. By relying on God’s strength and their community’s support, children will become increasingly comfortable taking a posture of gracious but determined differentness. Through being set apart and gracious, they will provoke others’ curiosity about the Kingdom of God.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God. 20For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:19-20

4. Share the Gifts with Your Community

Whatever we and our children encounter of God, we should be prepared to share with our surrounding regions (service). For example, if the Holy Spirit visits a Christian School and imparts a sustained grace for healing ministry over months (or years), the leaders of that school should consider how to create safe ways to invite their surrounding community to experience God’s power to heal.

God has not created his church to be aloof and hidden, but actively engaged conversation partners among our societies.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5;13-14

It is up to the school or church leaders to discern how God could be inviting them to share these gifts, and how to simultaneously keep youth safe.

Questions to Wrestle With:

Here are some questions that church and school leaders can wrestle with as they consider what supernatural ministry could look like in their context.

  • When it comes to the supernatural, what does experiential learning look like?
  • What can community engagement? Over time, what could prophetic evangelism look like?
  • How can we explain encounter and Jesus’s character in accessible language for kids who don’t have much experience or bible knowledge?
  • How can we provide rigor/challenge to support the zeal of children who are already more hungry for God? How can we honor their gifts without making them feel isolated for being outliers?
  • What foundation needs laid regarding love in action? The supernatural is only as useful as it helps us love God and love others (individual, social level).
  • How can we honor children with disabilities as they encounter the Holy Spirit?

Families

Before enlisting the Church or Christian schools, developing revelatory spaces must start with families. Families are the first point of contact and the primary-responsibility bearer for their children. In order to support children to experience the power of God from an early age, the Church must make a lasting, multigenerational commitment to families.

God’s Eternal Perspective: Calling the Church to Commit to the Entire Family Unit

When God looks at individuals and communities, he sees their ancestors.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Deuteronomy 7:9

God’s perception of time is different than ours. When he looks at an individual, he sees their entire family history (past and present) embodied inside of them.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day

2 Peter 3:8-9

When Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

Hebrews 7:10

God’s “eternity in a glance” perspective results in our blessing! For example, when God saw Israel’s children suffering in Egypt, initiated the Exodus. For God, watching the Israelites suffer injustice was like watching his friend Jacob crying.

So God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.

Exodus 2:25

While God’s eternal perspective results in perfect justice, God’s it is also what qualifies non-Israelites to both know him and take up the leadership roles of apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, and shepherd. When it comes to Supernatural ministry, Jesus extends the invitation to become his ministers based on Abraham’s election. Faith in Christ is the mechanism through which God sovereignly elects ministers, based on his promises.

You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’

Acts 3:25

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:29

If God views individuals and communities through the lens of eternity, how comparatively shallow are our temporary commitments to individuals! As much as possible, the design of Supernatural Ministry must be intentional multigenerational, because it models the everlasting faithfulness of God. That means that creating healthy partnerships between youth and elders should be vitally important to the Church.

Multigenerational ministry models the steadfast love of God because when you make a deep commitment to caring for a person, you also commit to loving and helping raise their children. Just like family members or close friends stay committed to one another generation after generation, supporting one another to raise their children, the Church must respect parent’s authority while taking a greater interest in the well-being of their children.

Again, this is similar to the concept of god-parenting (compadrazgo, compadres) in Mexican culture. Parenting is so hard that parents need us to commit to their kids. How much more so in our current era! When children see that we genuinely love their parents without any malice or danger, they will feel safe to trust us.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 

Romans 12:9

Committed to Children’s Safety

Jesus gives us hope that the Church can be a safe place for families and children. And that they don’t have to do it all alone.

When it comes to children’s safety (and the safety of his adult children), Jesus is not playing any games.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Matthew 18:6

God has allowed denominational Church sexual abuse scandals to become increasingly exposed in the last 50 years because he is unwilling for anyone to harm his children. Seeing this much evil come to light has horrified Parents. The sense of betrayal that families feel when even one child is hurt within their regions demonstrates the amplified fracturing effect sexual perversion and abuse has on generations.

The Church must take the lead in creating communities where the weight of God’s justice and purity is tangibly embodied throughout entire organizations, least of all through comprehensive child protection policies. The felt atmosphere of God’s justice and purity creates both fear of the Lord and administrative wisdom. Organizations must have both God’s weight and safeguarding structures that follow from it.

From a place of safety, the Church must come alongside parents to ensure that children receive justice in their educational environments, religious communities, and society in general. The Church’s commitment to justice for the vulnerable should drive their ongoing work of child protection in society, starting with the internal transformation that must happen at home, at church, and at school.

The Age of Isolationism and Christians only attending to the needs of their immediate families is over! The Church must pioneer new educational models so that whether through public, homeschool, or Christian education, Christians remain committed to the welfare of their societies and cultures.

Churches who dismiss their responsibility for child protection will reap the wrath of God. When older generations devalue the young through passivity or by actively oppressing them, they reap division and disordered organizations, for we are all one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I do not need you.” 22On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts we consider less honorable, we treat with greater honor. And our unpresentable parts are treated with special modesty, 24whereas our presentable parts have no such need.

But God has composed the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1 Corinthians 12:21-26

Furthermore, to abuse a child is to reap the wrath of God.

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. 26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, 27 because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

Exodus 22:22-27

Family Identity: Apostolic and Missional

In this current era, Parents have the opportunity to partner with God as Apostles for their families. When parents receive a child, they receive the grace to raise them into the fullness of their calling, with the Church’s support.

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.

Ephesians 3:7

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Training your children to know the Lord is an organic outworking of your relationship with God.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

As he leads you along, he will compensate for your [inevitable] weakness.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

God gives the grace to become a parent, and qualifies parents as they go. This is the same way he qualifies all of us to minister to other people: let by little, and through experience.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast in His presence.

1 Corinthians 1:26:29

Right now, I know a parent who is raising her daughter as is when it comes to Prophetic ministry. While this little girl has an inclination towards word of knowledge, sensing, and other encounters, her parents do not idolize the supernatural. Rather, they value their daughters gifts and help her grow conversationally, as part of their family routine. In spite of their fair share of dicey moments in parenting, they are raising their children in the grace that is organically on them to hear from the Lord. They aren’t superheroes, but they don’t have to be perfect in order for God to mightily use their home.

Whether through biological family or ministry, most people in the Church will wrestle with some kind of parenting. And their struggles will feel pretty similar because parenting and leadership are spiritually intertwined. The close tie between Parenthood and Apostolic ministry is why Paul sounds so much like an aggrieved parent dealing with wayward children in his Second letter to the Corinthians.

Have you been thinking all along that we were making a defense to you? We speak before God in Christ, and all of this, beloved, is to build you up. 20For I am afraid that when I come, I may not find you as I wish, and you may not find me as you wish. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, rage, rivalry, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder. 21I am afraid that when I come again, my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of their acts of impurity, sexual immorality, and debauchery.

2 Corinthians 12:19-21

The basic design of the family unit is the first God-given structure created to bring forth the Kingdom of God.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:28

Families can do this by raising Christlike children.

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

Malachi 2:15

But families can also do this through the pure, humble, and holy influence they have on their surrounding communities.

Appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,[d] and his children are believers[e] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer,[f] as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound[g] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 1:5-9

While sharing harmful teachings can upset an entire family, a family who is intentionally pursuing God can bless their entire community.

 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 

Titus 1:11

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Acts 16:31

And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Acts 16:15

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14

With God’s help, parents’ can raise their children to know Jesus’ voice on a dime, and be more sensitive to it than all other voices. Our children can be immediate in discerned obedience and brave for the Kingdom. May they be spoken well of by God! May they value his “Well done, good and faithful servant” more than our praise. May we raise them and guide them knowing that they belong more to the Lord Jesus than to us.

Families have the opportunity to create a shared Missional Identity. Parents can express their family identity through regularly reminding on another:

“You have been born into this family so that you can establish his Kingdom and invite others too. Go share what you have learned here with others.”

While being this intentional to pursue the Kingdom of God may mean there will be times where others think our children are weird, so be it. As long as their love and zeal is genuine, as long as it comes from intimacy with God and not pressure, who cares? Let them be in love! May they be unashamed of who sees it. May they be even more in love with God than their parents.

Later on in ministry, if leaders or nations complain about how much these kids love Jesus, the Church need only say, “Ask them why they love him.” As in, “Listen to them.

When family members support one another to embody and establish the Kingdom of God in their workplaces, educational settings, friendships, marriages, and communities, people will know Jesus.

Family Identity: Hospitality

The natural outworking of a family with a Kingdom of God mission is that they will need to add more seats to their table. Like Mary, Martha and Lazarus were hospitable to Jesus, and like Paul and Silas were invited into the home of the Philippian Jailer, Christian families must be known for being generous.

Parents can challenge even shy children to make room in their hearts for individuals who are both easy and difficult to love. God created the family as a mechanism for belonging and healing. It has the same effect when biological families invite others in.

While Parents can ask God for wisdom about safety, providing hospitality gives children opportunities to navigate the brokenness of people and learn to respond to their great need in a safe environment. While the world would encourage individuals to keep their families as isolationist as possible, the Kingdom of God relies on both wisdom and hospitality to expand true belonging. By showing hospitality to the strong, the vulnerable, and the broken alike, we can teach our children not to be afraid of the world’s mess, but to pursue its wholeness.

I have known too many stories of Christian families who were motivated by fear in how they treated their communities, children’s friends, and schools. Instead of believing that God’s power is greater than individual brokenness, they alienate others. While Christian families should be deliberate in setting safe boundaries, they must constantly consult the Holy Spirit to discern which “boundaries” are actually just white-washed fear.

After considering how, where, and who to invite, Christian families must cultivate the confidence to believe that if someone comes into their home, whatever brokenness they bring with them is lesser than the power of God who dwells there. Family dwellings just as much as corporate gatherings will host the glory of the Lord. This is the mindset behind the house church model, but the Church has yet to see families that embody it with the degree of power and wholeness God is sending.

Just like times where deliverance ministers pray alongside people who are under oppression, you have got to assume that if someone comes close, they will wind up more delivered. You cannot be afraid of “catching” their demons or brokenness, the demons will want to leave when they sense the purity of the home.

Whether or not we realize it, each of us was invited to join God’s household in the exact same way.

“When you host a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or rich neighbors. Otherwise, they may invite you in return, and you will be repaid. 13But when you host a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Since they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-13

The servant returned and reported all this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’

22‘Sir,’ the servant replied, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’

23So the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24For I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will taste my banquet.’ ”

Luke 14:21-24

God the Father prepared a place for us, and invited us in regardless of our degree of mess. In the Spirit, we live in that place now and forever.

In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. 

John 14:2-3

In the same way, Jesus has overcome the world.

God the Father prepared a place for us, and invited us in regardless of our degree of mess. In the Spirit, we live in that place now and forever.

In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. 

John 14:2-3

In the same way, Jesus has overcome the world.

Partnering with God for the Rest of the Work

Once the Church has enlisted families, there are other priorities to create a healthy revelatory space for youth. All of this work has got to be empowered and led by God, as the Spirit wills.

  • God must show Parents how to support their kids to be who they already are.
  • God must guide Church leaders on how they can support their teams to work with youth.
  • God must empower entire Churches and Schools (Not just Youth Leaders) with the grace and specific training they need to guide children.
  • God must weave together international networks of like-minded organizations through relational alliances.
  • God must empower schools and school leaders to develop curriculum that does not idolize historical figures but allows them to be human. How can the Body of Christ learn from predecessors flaws even as we celebrate their accomplishments? What does it look like to redeem the legacy of controversial predecessors, even as God we honor them? How could this exercise teach children to honor the positive aspects of their parents while redeeming their mistakes by making better decisions?

We must actively seek God’s help to do all these things and partner with him at each step of the process.

Child Development and the Supernatural

In order to support youth at all the stages of their development, Christians must examine how the strengths of each age range support them to understand different aspects of God’s character.

Chip Wood’s book Yardsticks is a must have resource for every parent, teacher, and youth worker. In Yardsticks, Wood discusses the physical, emotional, social, and ethical quirks of each age. For example, Wood’s section on 8 year olds mentions that they are generally prone to anxiety, biting on the ends of erasers and pens, and love routines. Knowing children’s approximate developmental stage helps adults understand what parts of God’s character they may most intuitively understand. While individual differences in childhood development matter, these trends are helpful to know. For example, 8 year olds love of collecting small objects like shells or special rocks. Their love of collections may give them a unique appreciation for God the Creator, who authored of all nature. The increased incidence of performance anxiety among 8 year olds also primes them to appreciate Jehovah Shalom, “God our Peace.” Teaching kids about different aspects of God’s character as they have hunger and need of it will likely result in different manifestations of God’s power among youth, in family, church, and home. For example, 8 year olds may be trained to discern spirits quickly because of the amount that they grapple with fear.

Could 4 year olds be developmentally inclined towards word of knowledge, given how often they blurt out their thoughts without a filter?

Could 9 year olds be developmentally inclined towards mercy ministry, prophetic action, justice, and healing ministry, based on how they are led by emotions, concern for the social welfare of the group, and compassion?

What else could God do or say?

Not a Formula

However, knowing the developmental trends of children is not a formula. Ultimately, the Spirit of God will decide how he wants to meet with a group of youth, and adults must follow his leadership. Realistically, adults must first find out, “How is God already encountering these kids?” by discerning his pre-existing activity and his past history with a group of students. Helping them name these experiences and worship him for his faithfulness in the past can be a great starting place.

From there, teachers and youth workers can work with children to describe what they are sensing. By giving them language and introductory training in different supernatural gifts, children will have a grid for greater encounters as God continues to show up.

The Supernatural and Differently Abled Children

What would the Church look like if we actively honored the contributions of youth with disabilities?

How could honoring differently abled children teach youth and their churches about God who gives us all a unique measure grace for our specific vocations?

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

7Now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8This is why it says:a

“When He ascended on high,

He led captives away,

and gave gifts to men.”b

Ephesians 4:4-8

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts we consider less honorable, we treat with greater honor. And our unpresentable parts are treated with special modesty, 24whereas our presentable parts have no such need.

But God has composed the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1 Corinthians 12:22-23

How could honoring differently abled children teach us about God’s understanding of strength and weakness?

In fact, we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong, and our prayer is for your perfection.

2 Corinthians 13:9

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-14

How can we train our children (and adults) to verbally acknowledge the contributions of differently abled children, speaking to them and not just about them?

Could it sound something like:

“_____, when I see you (action), it makes me think about how God (actions)”

or

“_____, when I see you (action), it makes me think about how God is (character).”

This accessible phrasing of honor may provide greater opportunities for children to dialogue with one another and with adults.

Midway through Chapter 6 of John Swinton’s “Becoming Friends with Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship, Swinton describes the story of Katie. Though Katie does not verbally communicate, God used her swaying dancing and nonverbal prayer to heal the broken ankle of her Church Youth leader.

How has undervaluing people with disabilities stopped the Church from experiencing greater miracles?

What could full inclusion of differently abled children in revelatory spaces look like?

Prophetic Ministry and Teens

Similar to the developmental stages of children, introducing teenagers to prophetic ministry could strengthen their pre-existing interest in identity development.

  • How does prophetic ministry intersect with teens’ strengths and insecurities?
  • How can leaders empower teen’s to pursue their own sense of calling?
  • How can leaders support their discernment in filtering prophetic words?
  • How could teenagers’ inclination towards justice provide opportunities to offer prophetic ministry to incarcerated teens? Could providing non-incarcerated and incarcerated teens opportunities to learn about God’s anger and express godly anger or grief be part of healing ministry? Some incarcerated teens are bound to be prophets.
  • How could teens and older generations develop healthy, intentionally countercultural, collaborative ministries?
  • How can adults support teen’s to create their own conversation maps (webs) as they communally wrestle out questions about God?
  • How can teens (and other prophets) create their own personal timelines, asking God to explain what he was doing at each point in their personal stories? How could God use this exercise to break off shame related to past events, wasted time, or rejection? What would it look like to support teens to come out of intimidation or fear as early as possible in their prophetic journeys?
  • How could teen’s be supported to write and continuously revise their own prophetic identity statement? How might personal storytelling provide them greater confidence to speak boldly when God gives them challenging words?
  • What does it look like for teens and children to be fully confident and fully alive in their emergent callings?

Conclusion

God still has so many ways he wants to reveal supernatural ministry to the generations. May we celebrate every good thing he teaches us in the coming years and steward it as treasure.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

John 21:25

Published by Haley Nus

Hello! Formerly of Kansas and Washington, D.C., I am an emerging voice in Holy Spirit-led education reform and youth ministry. I present these materials with an explicit focus on the interdenominational, international, charismatic Church. Check out more on my journey with prophetic ministry, doctoral study, and travel through my end-of-month Monthly Summaries. I take Jesus's invitation to welcome children in his name (Luke 9:48) and Jesus's exhortation to become like children (Mathew 18:3) literally! In order to shape the world well for adults, we must serve the youngest among us so that we will truly understand who we are as sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18).]

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