Updated: Jun 17
[This is a post by Young Song]
I was first introduced to the charismatic side of Christianity around 2001. Having grown up in conservative Korean American churches, things like the miraculous, tongues, and the prophetic were foreign to me. But when I got a taste to how vibrant our expressions of faith could be on this other side of belief, I dove right in.
And I was like a kid in a candy store.
I read all of the books, attended conferences, listened to sermons, sang those charismatic songs, and found people to practice the prophetic with. All of these experiences helped to shape the theology and life I now live, especially the prophetic.
As a pastor, one of my greatest accomplishments was transforming a ministry of people unaware of the prophetic into one that was both knowledgeable and practiced in it. Give this, why is the title of this post "Is the prophetic bad for ministry?"
The first reason, and the most blatant, is that it's more gripping. The second, and more real reason I titled this post in this way, is because there is a part of the prophetic that is actually bad for ministry. To be more accurate:
The prophetic, when approached with arrogance, will corrode communal connection.
Deepening connection, which is the goal of community, involves three things.
While all three things are connected with one another, I want to focus on curiosity for this post.
So what is curiosity?
Curiosity is the intense desire to learn a particular topic. When it comes to people, it is the intense desire to know who they are, what makes them tick, what they've been through, and so on and so forth.
This begins with the acknowledgement that there is a whole universe of being behind the surface of each and every person who has walked God's green earth. And even if we devoted a lifetime to studying just one person, we would find endless thoughts and emotions and experiences that would fill pages and pages of books until the world became a stack of notebooks dedicated to the understanding of that one individual. When we understand this and look at one another in this way, then the natural bearing of our connection becomes a desire to find out more.
That's what I've learned, talking to countless people for countless hours. Young and old. Black, Hispanic, American White, Indian, European White, Asian. From big cities and from small rural areas. I've had the privilege of connecting with so many. And I've found them to all be so very fascinating.
The fulfillment of curiosity is crucial to connection and community, which is the end goal of ministry according to Ephesians 4. Unless we truly know one another, how can we ever truly connect with one another? How can we truly care for one another when we have no clue who the other person is?
This is where the prophetic can become bad for ministry.
As I wrote before, when the prophetic is approached with arrogance, connection and community break down. We no longer approach one another with curiosity because somewhere deep inside we believe that all we need to know about one another is what God reveals to us. And while this is a good thing, to receive revelation from God about the people around us, it doesn't replace the tried and true methods of questions and conversations.
To put it really simply:
The prophetic is bad when it causes us to stop asking each other questions.
When we stop asking the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and WHY questions of one another, we stop our curiosity. When that happens, we end up committing and caring about shallow representations of actual people because we never really go under the surface. When that happens, our communities suffer for it.
So that leads me to ask you this:
When was the last time you stopped and asked a good question to someone that led to an actual conversation? When was the last time you were curious about someone?