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The “not-model”

What happened with 150 teenagers in Anglesey?

As already explained, Freedom in the Spirit seems to be a model, but it’s actually not a model, it’s just a way of releasing people into freedom. It’s an idea, not a plan. It’s a function, not a form. The focus must always be on the objective of providing freedom for the particular group of people you are dealing with. This is the function. The way we did it, the form we used, worked very well for a group of 50-100 people in a conference centre over a day or two. But this may not work in all circumstances. So let’s explore the various forms this can take in various different environments and circumstances.

Before we move on, here are a couple of situations we found ourselves in and how we dealt with them. Firstly, we were asked to help with a village church mission in the north east. Monica and I brought all of our paraphernalia that we used to run Freedom in the Spirit in Quinta a few weeks earlier. We brought the goldfish bowl, a couple of lecterns, communion elements, signs and some craft ideas. The problem is that there’s a huge difference between a focused expectant group of around a hundred Christians and a trickle of casual visitors and parents dragged over by kids eager to get going on the bouncy castle. There needs to be expectancy and engagement, which necessitates at the least a short talk to explain what it’s all about. This was not possible due to the nature of a church mission and so the form was not applicable in this situation. It didn’t stop a small group of Christians being blessed by sharing the recital of Scripture on the lawn, so the day wasn’t a complete failure.

Two days later the story was very different. Monica and I were presented with a daunting task, running Freedom in the Spirit with around 150 teenagers (and younger) at a summer youth camp, run by the Redeemed Church of God in Anglesey. Although inclination would be to give the kids freedom to experience all the stations in any order, we were wisely over-ruled by the youth leaders, who divided them up into groups of 20-25, each with an adult supervisor, with each group spending 20 minutes at each station, ensuring that everyone had a chance to experience all that was being offered. We had the quiet room (with confessional), crafts, dance, drama (they did that in-house), Bible reading and group discussion.

The quiet room was more successful than anyone could have anticipated. Some kids had a lot to unburden and youth leaders and pastors were on hand to counsel them. We even had reports of adults being touched by the Spirit in that room. The dance workshop was enormously successful. Ginnie White, leader of the Sh’ma Kingdom dancers brought two other dancers and led the kids in a series of workshops, each tailored to the particular group and including teaching as to the significance of the dance steps. This was a joy to behold, especially when you saw the total engagement of a group of juniors, teenagers and adults dancing together in formation and having such fun! The outdoor pulpit was tweaked. The kids really weren’t into giving speeches to each other but, instead, used that station to have a group discussion, boys lined up against the girls. We tried to get the kids engaged in Bible reading, but it seemed like hard work for some of them, perhaps it reminded them of school. The five craft tables were also well attended, all marshalled by Monica, who got them hand painting, creating a time line of the day’s activities, drawing and painting, with scripture verses as themes. Smaller groups of teens sat around tables chatting as they added colour to drawings of Biblical scenes. We left the camp in the afternoon and only met up with a senior pastor for the event a few months later. She high-fived me and told me that we had totally disrupted their carefully planned camp … all the kids wanted to do for the rest of the day was talk about their experience of Freedom in the Spirit!

What we learned was that one size does not fit all, the basic idea has to be adapted for the target group. But when certain elements hit a chord, the Holy Spirit is able to break through. As mentioned before, freedom is the watchword, a personal discovery of God without interference from others.

We should now think about your particular situation. The starting point is simple, it is you. What do you want to get out of this? There needs to be a sincerity of purpose, a desire to empower brothers and sisters and to release them into a ministry that hasn’t yet been awakened, or a purpose yet to be revealed, or to free them from a burden that has been holding them back. Again it is worth applying our three principals at every stage; does it honour God, does it reflect Jesus, does it engage the Holy Spirit? If we can honestly say that all three come into play, then we are starting from a sure foundation. The other thing to add here is to repeat that this is not a formula or even a traditional model, it is a function not a form. The function is defined by our desire for good outcomes, but the form is going to depend on our requirements. All we can do is set things up in expectation, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of the participants. We can have expectation, but we should not demand visitation.

This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp

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