Healing Line

Healing Line

Restore Your House, O Lord!

by Russ Parker
Spring/Summer 2016

  “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be.” — Amos 9:11  

For the last few years I have been leading a new resource for the healing of damaged churches — that they might recover their calling and mission. The conclusion of this process is a Christian Day of Atonement for the renewal and re–commissioning of the church to flourish in the way God intends it to. Here is something of this journey.

I love the book of Leviticus because it takes seriously the healing of places as well as people. In particular, I have been challenged by the purpose of the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16:1 begins with a reference to the death by fire of Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron and priests in their own right. For a variety of wrong reasons, they attempted to offer ‘false fire’ as part of their ministry in the Tabernacle. As a consequence of God’s judgment on them, the Day of Atonement was instituted in order to bring healing and forgiveness to the people of God. The major purpose of this Day is to heal the place of ministry to again become the place of ministry.

If you look closely at Leviticus Chapter 16 you will see that the Tabernacle now needed cleansing and healing from the damaged legacy of the activities of Nadab and Abihu. Atonement had to be made for the most holy place, the Tent of Meeting itself, for Aaron and his household, and for all the people and the altar of sacrifice. Not only people, but also the places of ministry needed to be healed so they could function properly again. It suddenly occurred to me that part of restoring churches to flourish again would be a Christian Day of Atonement Service and so this adventure began!

I encourage each church to identify the specific ministries of their church and where each usually happens within the church building or plant. It could be the pulpit for the preaching, the Holy Communion table, the place where the wardens or elders or equivalent sit, the door of welcome into the church, the choir or worship group space, the children’s teaching rooms and the church offices.

Next I give a little teaching on the use of holy water, that is normal water from the tap, but which is blessed and used for the holy purpose of cleansing and renewal. I set up a few bowls around the church filled with water about three inches deep. Then I invite the entire congregation, when they are ready, to come and dip a finger or two in the water and then go to one or more locations of ministry and make the sign of the cross and bless the ministry that happens there. By the way, I make sure to tell them to bear in mind the electrics in the building and not to try and carry water in the palms of their hands.

I invite them to use the standard proclamation of blessing: God bless the (whatever the ministry in particular) that happens here and call it to flourish in the way You want it to! I tell the people that if they have more than one ministry in mind to go for it and bless them all. I also say that if everyone else has the same ministry in mind as others to still go ahead and do it. I am always humbled and awed when I watch everyone get up out of their seat to go and bless their church to live again. The outcomes have been astonishing.

A treasurer of a large church came up to me to say that after doing this he received $150,000 in donations. Apparently a number of people had withheld their giving over the years as a protest against the abuse suffered at the hands of a former corrosive and aggressive pastor. They returned the whole amount of money with interest as their form of repentance and apology to the Lord.

I worked in another church that had struggled with sexual abuse from one of its leaders, who had been subsequently disciplined and removed. However, people continued to leave the church as they had lost confidence in its present leaders. Consequently I was called in to host this process (which I have called 2Restore). At the end of the blessing service one of the national leaders of this Pentecostal denomination stepped up on the platform to share his heart. He told the congregation how he was initially skeptical of my approach and nearly did a double take when I introduced the use of holy water. He felt confirmed in his convictions when he noticed the children talking amongst themselves and that they all went down into the basement of the building once I had given the invitation for the blessing ministry to commence. He thought they were up to no good and followed them into a room below, waiting a few seconds before he suddenly entered to catch them at whatever they were doing. He said he was stunned as he entered the room; unbeknownst to the children, this was the very room where the sexual abuse had happened. All the children were lying on the floor in the shape of a cross and praying words such as don’t leave us God, come back Lord, we need your blessing Lord. He told us that some of those children were only six years old! He was deeply humbled and apologized to the church for his attitude.

We are living in days when the church of Christ needs restoration to the purposes and power of God. One of the resources for this is to take the principles of the Day of Atonement and through Jesus Christ, bring healing and fresh release and renewal to the mission and ministry of the church. No church is perfect, but I heartily recommend that you give time and commitment to restoring your church to be the place of blessing to which God has called it.

Russ Parker Russ Parker is the former Director of Acorn Christian Healing in England and a member of CHM's National Advisory Board.
Spring/Summer 2016 Issue