The relationship of a healer to church progress

Pracs in branch churches 2

Photo by Katie Duntley

Back during the early years of my healing practice I was serving on my branch church’s Executive Board. At one meeting we discussed the new members we had admitted over the last few years. As the names were mentioned, I quietly realized that most of them had joined the church because they had called me as a practitioner. In each case, membership resulted from our progress in praying together.

I didn’t see this as something that applied only to me personally. Instead, I felt it was what happens when Christian Science healing is having an impact on the community. In other words, when public healing takes place, it also benefits the local church.

This is normal considering the history of the Christian Science church. In many cases, it was individuals healing in their local areas that first established our churches. Why do we think that it would be anything else that would maintain them and make them prosper today?

So, is public healing the sole responsibility of those who are professionally in the healing practice as Journal-listed practitioners?

The responsibility really lies with all of us.

Our Church Manual requires each branch church to have at least one member who is fully available as a professional practitioner (p. 73). And yet, elsewhere in this same Manual it recommends that each member heal the sick and sinner—not necessarily doing it full-time, but still striving to do it publicly (p. 92).

Many churches today do not have a Journal-listed practitioner. But doesn’t that point at a need for more members healing others? It makes sense that the professional practitioner would naturally come from the ranks of members already healing.

Here are some questions to consider asking yourself: Am I supporting the healing mission of my church by actually healing the sick and sinner? How can I do a better job of being the public healer our founder, Mary Baker Eddy, expected me to be?

Some may think it is sufficient to do this by simply serving in the various positions of a branch church. However, early worker and practitioner, James Neal, had a different point of view on this:

“In former times the art of healing began to be left to the few, as the strict demands of the spirituality Jesus required became more and more irksome to the materialists of that age, until at last all gave up trying to obey the full import of Jesus' commands. Then it is our responsibility to-day as Christian Scientists to learn the lesson this bit of history affords, and resolutely withstand every argument that would attempt to present plausible reasons why each one of us should not heal the sick. We must all guard, with increased spirituality, any attempt to justify ourselves for the lack of healing experience, even though it may come on the ground that we are healing business, church, or world problems, or doing our work in what is called a larger way. There is no larger way!” (“Scientific healing: the Christian’s obligation” in The Christian Science Journal, December 1918).

Let’s dedicate ourselves to this “[largest] way”—individual commitment to public healing. It will do more for our community and world than any other activity ever could. And just like the formation of our churches, it will be the means by which they progress today--showing the “proof of their utility” (Science and Health, p. 583).

This is the second blog in a series exploring the role of practitioners in branch churches, and the Manual provision that each branch church have a Journal-listed practitioner to organize. Click here to read the first blog in the series.
  1. Thanks, Phil,

    Right on! When I read this blog description;"This is the second blog in a series exploring the role of practitioners in branch churches, and the Manual provision that each branch church have a Journal-listed practitioner to organize." It gave me a whole new light on the role of the Christ in church, particularly the last sentence--one of my favorite paragraphs in Mrs. Eddy's writings.

    Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Christian Scientists, their children and grandchildren
    to the latest generations, inevitably love one another with that love wherewith Christ loveth us; a love unselfish,unambitious, impartial, universal, — that loves only because it is Love. Moreover, they love their enemies, even those that hate them. This we all must do to be Christian Scientists in spirit and in truth. I long, and live, to see this love demonstrated. I am seeking and praying for it to inhabit my own heart and to be made manifest in my life. Who will unite with me in this pure purpose, and
    faithfully struggle till it be accomplished? Let this be our Christian endeavor society, which Christ organizes and blesses (Pulpit and Press, pg 21:1) I especially love that last sentence in the light of how church is spiritually organized through the Church Manual and every healing function of the cause of Christian Science.

    Thanks for your devotion to CS public healing!

  2. So on track. This is the "embracing" of our community and fellow mankind rather than the "outreach" that is needed for the world and for our movement!

  3. Thanks Phil! Great reminder.....and I find it helpful to continually give my own consent to doing just what you say we need to be doing.

  4. Thank you, Phil for your thoughts and experiences. You are so right! Healing is the alpha and the omega of church work. As a church member we sometimes go through really rough times. But the solution is always healing - first in one's own thought. Then the environment will follow. For sure!
    thanks again very much !

  5. Thanks, Phil! This ties in beautifully with Monday's Annual Meeting. And a great reminder even to those already advertising in The Christian Science Journal.

  6. This is one of my favorite old time articles on this topic: http://sentinel.christianscience.com/issues/1904/9/7-3/fruits-demanded

  7. Thanks so much Phil, you are so right on. I remember the movie Field of Dreams had a saying in it, "If you build it, they will come." After I saw that movie I was praying one day about church and that statement came to me in a different way; "If we heal, they will come." That is why the came to Christ Jesus, because he healed That is why they came to Mrs. Eddy because she healed. Now it is our turn and if we heal, our churches will be filled again like they were in Mrs. Eddy's day. Like Vic Westberg said in an interview with Jeffrey Hildner, "It isn't just 'give it a shot' and then run off and do something else. It's sticking with it until the case is healed." That thought really helped me. I saw the need to be more persistent and consistent in my work as a Christian healer. Thank you for this article and for all your love and devotion to our movement.

  8. Thank you Phil for your thought provoking article. It does say in the Word, by their fruit you shall know them. I joined the Church 2012. I discovered through Miscelleneous Writings an old book my mother had. I had been going through the wilderness spiritual, a dearth i cannot describe. It took me a few years to read the book after it came to my possession but it healed me when i finally read it. I have always believed that that God called me to heal. For 29 years i have had this conviction and here and there i have seen miraculous healings after i had prayed for people. So when i joined the Church, my dream as a healer was getting close to reality. The excitement soon waned as i grappled to understand what constitutes prayer in CS. I come from the Christian background. You pray with others sometimes alone, you vocalise what you pray, mostly confessing the word of God, not all the time because sometimes you are silent. In praying for the sick, you will also annoint with oil as says God's word, you lay hands on the sick and they recover. Nonetheless, the confidence to go all out was never there because, by default, it appeared, that work was for pastors. In my experience, although the preaching leaned on the Word in so far as we are all called to do the work, in practice a few are groomed and " sent out", how the choice was made, it baffled me. For as long as i became aware of this conviction, i have always attempted to get help from leaders for guidance as to how to answer the call. It would be long into the frustration, after serious church hopping that i realised this is God's business i needed to be seeking him about it. Even at that though, it is difficult to remain in a group where your spiritual needs are not met. Other factors come into play, i stongly believe church must make sense. If sick, healing must be readily available, if in lack, you ought not be made to feel destitute. Western culture makes it more baffling for me. I am African. In my culture it is not taboo, it expected that i ask for help when in need. Just like the Bible says. So now, i realise that the class instruction is in order. Until i can make that, i may remain confused. Mrs Eddy's writing is not easy. Lectures are few and far between. Practitioners, if listed, they are far away. They come at a cost. Yes they ought to make a living: but is this saying? In my other experience of Church, one does not pay for such. The man or woman of God does the work by the Grace, the spiritual gift operating through the Holy Spirit. I am struggling to reconcile these experiences. In my Church, the members are loving, dedicated, helpful and keen to assist however, i would love to see CS fruitage in some visible way. All the people seem to be in good shape physically and spiritually. Wednesday testimony meetings are great but testimonies shared seem to come from years past, in the main. The church is almost empty, a few families. It is not in criticism I say this. It is thoughts and questions that cross my mind as a new member. Why is it so? I ask myself. On sharing the faith, i have met with formidable resistance. The belief is that, this is a cult. A dangerous place to be. And yet, apart from the fact that the writing is hard, the thinking somewhat revolutionary and a tid bit too abstract, I have a good feeling that with a little bit more vibrancy, more teachings/lectures/ more Bible study/ more direct, more vocal interaction.., more may be gained. Life is vibrant. Love is action. Instead here i sense that there is a distance that people maintain, the very fear to show outwardly like laying hands on people and sharing prayer loudly makes it all feel unnatural to me. The restraint as in guarding against being showy is difficult to understand. It is too quiet. Too hands -offish for a Church. I may be reading it all wrong but around Jesus and the Apostles there was commotion. Things happened in the open. Everything, the sharing of the faith, conversions, teachings, praying, eating together etc. . I am not critising, i am trying to understand - i know the church is growing because here i am i have just joined it, but is it not the case that more people have or are leaving, maybe dying?

  9. Dear Joyce--#8,
    I was raised in Christian Science, in the US and with all the trappings of my culture. I see exactly what you are saying about it being hard to understand the CS writings; hard to feel close to the people and the church when almost everyone seems to make themselves distant; hard to be grateful again for the old testimonies- which seems to point to a non-progressive state of being within the branch church and its membership. I agree that there should be more 'Bible Study, more direct and vocal interaction,' as you said. If I speak of these things to the individuals within my church, they agree too! So, what is that that makes them be quiet? What is it that makes me then be quiet too? Besides the uncertainty of what to do next, it is fear. Fear that we will look silly or say something that is completely out of line; and also fear that we will break some kind of rule, and might be some kind of a reprimand from the church or-- dare I say it?-- from God!!
    You probably already know that it is not so. Christian Science and it's members and/or practicing attendees would never reprimand a person for trying. God of course, forgives and guides us. And there are very good reasons to remain quiet! "Be still and know that I am God." But!-- and this is a big but-- the people within the church would refuse to join in to the happy work because it might require more than they feel they are capable of giving.
    The 'stand-off-ish-ness' comes from their personal sense that they are not good enough or that they might actually hurt someone by trying because they might not be as effective as they should be. That is fear. And you may even say for good reason, if you think of it in terms of the suffering a person may do waiting for the healing they asked for, and not receiving it. Or perhaps, one may think, they will only get better for a time, and then relapse, and then make the would -be- healer look bad! Again, fear.
    In 'A Rule For Motives and Acts,' Mrs. Eddy says that we are truly Christian when we 'rebuke sin.' It has very recently become apparent to me, that rebuking sin is the way that we release others from the imposition they are accepting as real. Rebuking sin does not mean we are going to horse whip it out of them, or make them feel guilty for having a mortal desire or even a decadence. Rebuking sin is the acknowledgment of Divine Love being active in their lives. To rebuke sin effectively, we refuse to see it as real. Actively remove the falsity from our own thought- for ourselves -and then from the person we see in front of us. "Love is the Liberator." The more you practice removing the imposition of fear from your daily life, the more you are capable of healing and the more the members and church will grow.
    Just a little about this sin I'm talking about. We all know the big sins. The sin's I am talking about are the ones we all accept as just a usual state of being. We accept, for instance, that it is normal for a boy to not be able to learn to multi-task as easily as girls do; that men will not be as interested in the children as women are; that women will become bitter over time; that becoming jealous is a natural thing; that the emotions while growing, up play a key importance to who you are when you are an adult; that the culture we live in is the major way that we identify ourselves. The list can go on and on but for the most part, sin is the belief that having fear is normal and right. Sin is believing that we are separated from God.
    Let's know together, just for today, that "Perfect Love casteth out fear." In Science and Health, page 242 it says: "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, — self-will, self-justification, and self-love, — which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death." Joyce, just that fact that you see it means you are capable of healing it.

  10. Thank you so much Phil, Joyce and Kim- a lot to ponder and do!

  11. Well said Phil...I'm prying my head out of the ostrich hole now to face the challenge. :)

  12. Dear Joyce,
    II so appreciate the sincerity of your comments and questions. Thank you for sharing them. yes. Christian Science churches are small and membership has diminished in many. However, what's important to me is where we are today and what our prospects are for the future.
    You mentioned class instruction. I hope you pursue this. It could be a big answer to your comments and questions. It will help you to deal with the world and church issues directly, but at the same time it will enable you to demonstrate CS-- the allness of God and the nothingness of matter (the two cardinal points of Mind-healing).
    As you pray about class instruction let the choice of teacher come to you from God, not others' opinions. What you learn will do much to clear up confusions about CS and establish you as a public healer. It is a ggrand privilege! Happy exploring.

  13. Thanks for this discussion and for the soul-searching comments of Joyce and Kim. For those of us who have grown up in CS, the stultifying and stifling atmosphere of a church can even seem normal. But as Kim pointed out--it's not normal--it's not who we are, it's not what any of us really want. It's sin that needs to be faced down and cast out and honest discussions such as this one can help us to part with this nonsense--regardless of how long it's been going on.

    ....."willingness to give up human beliefs (established by hierarchies, and instigated sometimes by the worst passions of men), open the way for Christian Science to be understood, and make the Bible the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out." S&H page 24

  14. Thanks for persisting in the Truth

  15. Wow, what an uplifting article and discussion! Thank you Phil, for affirming that there is no larger way than healing, publicly and persistently. I would never want to be accused of keeping this powerful and trustworthy method of healing a secret! So through my growth as a Christian Scientist and a church member, it's becoming more and more natural to offer to pray for people, mostly my non-CS friends who share their troubles with me. (And guess what - we find healing together!) And thank you Joyce, for your glowing love and sincerity, taking a close look at Christian Science and authentically seeking to make sense of it. I see what you see, too! And thank you Kim, for your comments, especially, "Just the fact that you see it means you are capable of healing it." What a spiritual lift these ideas have given me, sending me forward into this ministry of healing with more confidence and gratitude. Thank you!

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