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Fortune Cookies and Prayer

This past weekend while speaking in a church, I relayed a creative outreach story that I’ve probably told several dozen times in churches all over the world as an example of thinking creatively about outreaches.


And the best part about it?—it wasn’t my idea.


One of the largest psychic conventions in the country is held every couple of years at the convention center located near the church I pastored. Psychics, mediums, astrologers and others set up booths to promote and sell their services, from palm reading, to Tarot cards, to “special” cameras that could photograph your aura.


Not even iPhones can do that.


Of course, the Bible has specific things to say about that type of occultic activity…and it’s not positive. Basically, God told Israel to not mess with it: why talk to the dead when you have the Living God? It was so ingrained in Hebrew thought that the Talmud records that “Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. . . . because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and into apostasy.” Anyone engaged in any perceived occultic practices was severely punished.


So at events like the psychic fair you might find Christians protesting or telling people they’re going to hell.


We took a different approach: one year we got a booth inside. Churches are banned from exhibiting in the psychic fair, but our prayer team ministry sneaked in under the name of The Healing Center. The Healing Center is a fifty-thousand square foot facility we built to holistically care for marginalized people in Greater Cincinnati, offering over forty different free services from basic food and clothes to computer literacy classes to career coaching to health assessments to whatever.


Our team built a booth with a banner that said "Healing Prayer and Dream Interpretation." They figured: why not bring the power of the Kingdom of God to the psychic fair? For years we had prayed for sick people like most churches, but I asked our Director of Prayer Ministries if we knew how to interpret dreams. Karin said, “Uh…no. But we’re learning fast!” Our standard prayer has always been, “Oh God, oh God, oh God!”


The responses were incredible. The team had people come back to the booth several times saying they experienced the strongest “vibrations” they had ever felt. Some people were healed. Some felt terrific heat as our people prayed. It was phenomenal.


Here’s the reality: many of these convention attendees are looking for God. They just don’t know the God who is looking for them.


Our booth was free, which created problems with the other vendors charging for their services. But we figured, hey, they’re psychics…they should have seen that coming.


We also offered free fortune cookies. Our prayer ministry found a company to print our own fortunes in them, so there were quotes from Richard Foster, simple proverbs, and sayings from Jesus.


But here’s the point: I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t come up with the idea…which I loved.


When a culture of risk-taking and creative freedom is nurtured, people are free to try things without fear of failure or retribution, to experiment with various outreaches and contexts for introducing the Kingdom of God to unbelievers. Once you’ve established a clear organizational mission along with accompanying core values, unleashing innovative leadership and “permission-giving” in your organization is the next step.


How is the “imagination” factor uncorked in your church?


Dave Workman | The Elemental Group


 Is there clarity in your church or organization regarding your mission, vision, and core values? Maybe it's time for EnVision...a revolutionary gamified approach to charting your church's future. Team-based, self-facilitating, and interactive!


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