Leeds Vineyard

Prophetic and revelatory gifts in housegroups

One of our values is “Led by the Holy Spirit – we wait on Him for counsel, direction and inspiration.” 1 Corinthians 12:7, Galatians 5:5, Romans 8:14.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is a characteristic of Vineyard life. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says that to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

That means every person in church and in our groups is empowered by the Holy Spirit for the common good. We witness that regularly when, triggered by words of knowledge and other revelation, we see people receive ministry. When they leave they are usually in a better way – there is “common good” as a result.

Two extreme practical examples of the effect of the presence of the Holy Spirit are seen in Acts 5 and Acts 8:9ff.

In normal Vineyard life we see Him at work more in the way of strengthening, encouraging and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that is our primary guiding principle.

There are many revelatory gifts and these should be used by all: words of knowledge, prophecy, interpretation, discernment, dreams, visions, pictures and others.

As leaders we need to help people understand how to use them. Revelation needs to have 3 components:

  1. The revelation itself – anyone can receive this although some level of track record and supporting lifestyle is influential in how you weigh it up;
  2. The interpretation – what does it mean? Someone who gets the revelation does not necessarily have an interpretation. So people need to be taught that they don’t need to understand the word before they give it. Often the interpretation is someone else’s gift. Again, anyone can exercise the gift of interpretation but track record and lifestyle is perhaps a little more influential in weighing this up;
  3. The application – a simple, “go and sin no more” or “you need to read the bible some more” can be delivered by anyone. Application with more impact, “You should marry him”, “Take that job”, or with a significant bearing on the direction of the church should be delivered much more carefully and falls within the gift of the leader.

Everyone will receive the gift at level 1. Some will receive the gift at level 2. Fewer will operate at level 3. A very few people are gifted as pastoral or ministry leaders (operating at level 3) and also gifted in receiving and interpreting the revelation.

This is very releasing for the majority of people because it means they don’t have to fully understand, they can take risks on getting the revelation wrong and they need not carry the responsibility of deciding its application.

Although we do have this as a value it is one we need to re-enforce with our people. This is for the common good. It is for the common good in terms of triggering off general opportunities for ministry and for people to receive prayer and inspiration and guidance (1 Cor 12:7). It is also for the common good for the protection of the church.

In the story in Acts 5, the revelatory gifts were at work. Thinking about some of the things that could go wrong in our community of faith (we have experienced what is happening in other churches around us), we need the Lord’s guidance to us every step of the way. I am sure He is speaking to us about matters of protection all the time but we are not too good at taking them seriously.

So I would like you to encourage the prophetic and the revelatory gifts in your group and in yourselves. If people receive revelation which is obviously not for general consumption (i.e. it is not strengthening, encouraging, comforting), they should be taught how to communicate that word to you, for you, as a leader, to weigh up. They can then forget about it and leave it in your hands. It may be that that word is the third in a row about an issue and you can clearly see something the Lord is saying which the individual with their one word and limited oversight can’t see.

Some of this revelation is applicable just to you and your group, some to the whole of our community of faith. If the latter, you simply need to pass it down to Alison and me or the General Leadership Team and leave it with us.

Remember what Paul calls us to in 1 Corinthians 12. He suggests that we all have different gifts but, v31, “eagerly desire the greater gifts”. Let us take up this value and teach our people so that the Vineyard will be a place where we are Led by the Holy Spirit and see Him at work providing counsel, direction and inspiration.
David Flowers, 26/10/2006