5 Habits of a Dysfunctional Deliverance Ministry

Over the years I have noted the marks of a healthy deliverance ministry within the church – and some of the characteristics that lead to disaster. Below are five habits of a highly dysfunctional deliverance ministry:

1. Believe that only the gifted can minister deliverance. What you don’t want in your church is an elitist hit squad of God’s Special Forces going around seeking whom they may deliver. Having said that, you do want well-trained mature believers who can be called together at required times to minister in the love and power of Jesus Christ. I have found that some of the best-trained people were once those who needed deliverance the most – high-maintenance individuals who are now healthy, functioning believers who are being used by God to help others.

2. Embrace the dramatic and theatrical. I wince over some of the things I’ve seen and heard in the ministry of deliverance. If the “garment” of effective ministry is to be whole – if deliverance ministry is to be restored to the church – we must let go of the theatrical. Jesus ministered to hurt and broken people, but He never paraded them around to prove His authority. We can all learn from that!

3. Step outside of your authority. We must become acquainted with Scripture well enough to know exactly what authority we do and do not have. Concerning demons, I see no scriptural justification (for example) for telling them “Go to hell, where you belong.” We have authority to cast them out; we do not have authority to tell them where they are to go once they leave. Jesus’ command still stands: “Cast out demons” (see Matt. 10:8).

4. Require people to manifest in particular ways. I have seen regurgitating, sneezing, coughing, shaking, screaming, biting, jumping, laughing, and so on, during deliverance prayer. In some cases it was a demonstration of “flesh” and in others a legitimate response to an encounter between a fore of darkness and the Almighty God. Discernment is needed to know the difference. I have also seen people smile or softly cry because a heavy load was removed. There are no specific effects or manifestations signaling someone’s deliverance. God deals with each of us individually, and our responses can be as varied as our personalities.

5. Converse with demons. If Satan is the father of lies, is it a surprise that demons would lie too? You can almost be assured that they will, at best, distort the truth – and at worst deceive and manipulate. I receive nothing of instruction or insight into their domain from them. I simply follow Jesus’ directive and cast them out. I would suggest the same.

Can you think of any other habits of a dysfunctional deliverance ministry?