Without them, Foursquare ministry would look quite different. No miracles. No healing. No deliverance. No prophecy. Without the gifts of the Holy Spirit, supernatural ministry just wouldn’t exist in our churches.
But with the gifts of the Spirit, supernatural ministry does exist—and becomes profoundly effective. People are transformed through miracles, healing, deliverance, life-changing words of prophecy and more.
Spirit-led ministry leads to changed lives, because God does significant things through the gifts He makes available by the Holy Spirit.
In this first part of our three-part series on “Reclaiming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” we asked Foursquare leaders how the gifts work personally in their lives, how they model the gifts for their congregations, and why the gifts are vital in our churches today.
How the Gifts Are Personal
“The gifts are how I see nutrients to the natural body, which assure healthy operation for everyday life, for a healthy spiritual walk,” says Doretha O’Quinn, vice provost of multiethnic and cross-cultural engagement at Biola University, and assisting minister at Faith Community (San Diego Foursquare Church) in San Diego, Calif.
As an administrator, Doretha says she constantly needs wisdom and “the mind of Christ” for the decisions she has to make concerning administrative duties or people. When those situations arise, she prays a simple conversational prayer and asks God to give her what she needs.
“I know that the gifts of the Spirit are for my life; therefore, I ask the Lord at those times for manifestation,” she explains. “Living in the Spirit is often taught as something that is mystical and uniquely experienced. That is not how I see it.”
Bill Gross has been a pastor, but today he is missional development coach/consultant with the National Church Office, where he serves districts, helping them unpack, facilitate and implement the Foursquare vision. His desire to fuel their hunger for God stirs his apostolic gift into action—he works to ensure Foursquare leaders are cared for and have the resources to help them fulfill God’s calling on their lives.
“How we bless leaders, guide emerging leaders and know how the Holy Spirit is leading: that is our constant conversation,” he says.
The simple gift of praying in tongues, or praying “in the Spirit,” as it’s called, makes a huge difference in Jerry Stott’s ministry. As Foursquare’s South Pacific area missionary, Jerry oversees 22,000 churches spread across 12 countries. Just finding extra minutes in his day for quality prayer time can be challenging. So he exercises his prayer language—often.
“Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I pray in the Spirit,” he tells Foursquare.org. “Sometimes, as pastors, we feel like we’re so busy that there isn’t even time to pray. I don’t have the ability to do all this, but the Holy Spirit does what I can’t do.”
Regularly praying in tongues is also one way Russell Schlecht taps into the gifts of the Spirit in his life and ministry. The pastor of Living Word Fellowship (Oak Harbor II Foursquare Church) near Seattle prays privately in the Spirit, but watches God work publicly through other spiritual gifts in his life.
“[Though] I pray in tongues privately, I contend for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the discovery of gifts for every congregant,” he says. “I see prophecy at work in my preaching and in times of prayer for leaders. I see wisdom and discernment utilized in counseling sessions with believers and nonbelievers.”
How the Gifts Go Public
For any pastor or church leader, however, the question eventually arises over how the spiritual gifts should be expressed in public gatherings. One way Foursquare leaders are exemplifying God’s wonder-working power (minus the theatrics) is by practicing the adage, “There’s safety in numbers.”
John Decker, an ordained Foursquare teacher and missionary evangelist, says that when he is leading a corporate gathering and a questionable spiritual manifestation occurs: “I will ask fellow leaders if what just manifested was from the Lord or not. There is always safety in the abundance of counselors.”
John stresses that the gift of discernment is a key safeguard needed when spiritual expressions are being manifested. Sonja Decker, John’s wife and also an ordained Foursquare teacher and missionary evangelist, agrees.
“I am concerned when congregations open up to the supernatural gifts without thorough teaching on these gifts, especially discerning of spirits,” Sonja says.
The Deckers oversee a Ministry Training Institute (MTI) at their local church that uses a 72-lesson curriculum they developed, called The Ambassador Series. Part of the nine-month coursework includes modeling how to operate in the supernatural gifts.
“We are radical, but we are not weird!” Sonja emphasizes.
Another way to lead by example when it comes to the spiritual gifts is by learning who you are not, spiritually speaking. It is perhaps as important as knowing who you are.
“I am not a prophet,” Christopher Manginelli, senior pastor of Mill Creek Foursquare Church in Lynnwood, Wash., points out. “But I believe [in the prophetic gifting] and, therefore, function in moments of prophecy with fellow leaders, and the church, with regularity.”
Why the Gifts Are Vital
To understand why the gifts of the Holy Spirit are vital to ministry today, it helps to recognize who the Holy Spirit truly is.
“Just as we can’t live as if one believer is more important than another (the hand is not more important than the foot), so the role of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity is as important as the role of the Father and the Son,” explains A.J. Swoboda, senior pastor of Theophilus Church (Hawthorne Foursquare Church) in Portland, Ore., and a professor of biblical studies, theology and Christian history at Life Pacific College (also known as LIFE Bible college).
The same holds true with all of the Holy Spirit’s gifts, A.J. says: “We cannot relegate Him to just one expression of His gifts. If we believe in the Holy Spirit, we believe in them all.”
Jerry Stott believes the work of the Holy Spirit is so vital to our churches today that, without Him, we will in time benefit no one.
“Eventually we will lose all if we do not allow the Holy Spirit in our churches,” he says. “People respond to what is real, and there is nothing more real than the touch of the Holy Spirit on a person.”
You are reading Part 1 of a three-part series.
By: Jimmy Stewart, a freelance writer living in the Orlando, Fla., area