People are longing to be touched by God’s love, power and acceptance. As Christians, we carry inside us an amazing arsenal of spiritual gifts that can help those in need in the hurting world around us. As an outreach leader and trainer for a number of years, I have come to realize that to become more effective we no longer have to go on an outreach because our life is an outreach!
I never grow tired of watching people’s faces light up when we do something that practically demonstrates God’s love. I call these divine moments or power encounters. I have had many power encounters and my most recent was at a comedy club. My wife and I struck up a conversation with a New Age hypnotherapist and she shared a reoccurring childhood dream, which took place outside a church. I gave her the interpretation, which was that she had an amazing spiritual destiny yet to be fulfilled. She was about to find out more about the special assignment or calling God has had on her life since she was a child. She went into tears and said she felt warmth, love and goose bumps all at the same time.
When I talk about power encounters as a means of reaching people with God’s love, many different ideas may run through your head. I realize that the story I just shared may sound a bit extreme and it came after years of experience. Let me share with you some secrets on how I got started and give you some simple tips on how to have power encounters with people in your community.
The power of presence
Power encounters occur when we bring God’s presence to a person who does not believe in God or is trapped in darkness. There is power just by bringing the presence of God that is inside us into contact with those whom God is drawing to Himself. I call this the ‘Gift of Showing Up’!
God’s presence in us is like a light that shines and distinguishes us from those who do not have this light. We are told to “live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). When we intentionally allow the presence of God’s love to be released through us to touch others, people are drawn to us and experience a peace that they have not experienced elsewhere. People can just sit next to us and walk away changed, without knowing what happened to them.
The power of process
Oftentimes, we miss the fact that people tend to come to Jesus through a process of circumstances and events. We need to allow people time to experience God and not be too quick to try to get them to pray the prayer of salvation prematurely. Just like in nature, there is a growth process for new life to emerge. We would never force a rose bud open or plant a seed expecting it to mature instantly. In the same way, people are often relieved to find a Christian who is not “evangelistically trigger-happy.”
Most people want to know God is real and have questions and doubts that need to be worked out over time. Combining the power of God’s presence with the power of process, we can befriend people and hang out with them over time. It feels more natural and relational while being very effective in reaching people today.
The power of love
We all can demonstrate the power of love. The Bible makes it clear that our enemies are in the spiritual realm and they are not the people we are trying to reach (Ephesians 6:12). We show love in the natural, while our enemies are in the spirit realm. When we take God’s light into the world, it is best not to judge people that you may not agree with. Focus on loving anyone you may disagree with because love powerfully attracts people to Him. Jesus does say to love your neighbor.
The power of encouragement
There is profound power in simply speaking kindly to people, building them up. When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, he gently pointed out that she had relational issues. But he encouraged her, going on to call her honest (John 4:18). People are often beaten down and discouraged by their circumstances. It is amazing what a kind word can do to build them up. It is the kindness of God that leads people to repent and receive Him (Romans 2:4).
The power of surprise
As we do practical things to demonstrate God’s love, we open people’s eyes to God’s love for them. This is often a surprise to them and gives that “tilt of the head” in astonishment. Another surprise is when people discover we are Christians and we are also nice. Sad to say, many people have had bad experiences with unloving Christians. It is so fun to show people the opposite spirit by practical, surprising acts of love and reveal that God is real and really loves them.
Making it practical
Power encounters are not as difficult as you might think. Here are some easy, practical steps to see this in action. Ask God to show you someone who is need of His touch. If you know them, consider going to coffee or lunch and just listen. Then find a way to practically meet a need in their life.
If you see someone in public that God highlights and you don’t know them, be courageous and tell them that you just read something about the power of encouragement and you were wondering if you could practice with them. Proceed to give them a short uplifting word of encouragement. You don’t have to pray long prayers or get them on their knees repenting to be effective in sharing God’s love. You’ll be surprised!