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Divine Magnetism

Magnet

by Dennis Pollock

In my early days in ministry, as a pastor of a small church in a small town in Missouri, I was obsessed with the concept of revival. My heroes in the faith were those men and women who saw revival and spiritual awakening follow them wherever they went – people like George Whitefield, Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Maria Woodworth-Etter, and Jonathan Goforth. I not only read biographies, but also accounts of some of the greatest revivals in the history of the church, as well as some awakenings which were smaller but incredibly intense. One book I read, titled “Revival – The Rain from Heaven,” by Arthur Wallis, was exceptional. In it the author coined a term for a phenomenon which occurs in virtually every outpouring of the Spirit.

The phenomenon was the mysterious and unaccountable attraction that seemed to emanate from the spiritual activities in the epicenter of the revival, the fact that people were drawn to the meetings and the ministers which were at the heart of the revival by hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands. Spiritual awakening often begins small, but it never stays small. Once the Spirit of God is poured out in great measure, the crowds show up in huge numbers: believers, unbelievers, partial believers, blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics… They all come. Wallis termed this phenomenon “divine magnetism.

As I gave thought to this concept of divine magnetism I expected that if it were true, we should be able to see it in the Scriptures, and surely we do. One of the greatest examples of this magnetism may be found in the life of Jesus’ forerunner, John the Baptist. John broke nearly all the rules for success in ministry. He could be harsh, he didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, and he told people they were sinful and needed to repent. Perhaps most detrimental of all, he located his ministry away from large cities and did much of his preaching in wilderness areas. And yet the Bible tells us: “Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5).

Preaching Magnet

We are told John performed no miracles. He didn’t heal people, didn’t raise any dead people, and never walked on water. The only thing spectacular about this fiery son of Abraham was his anointed preaching. John was an orator. He wasn’t particularly eloquent in the normal sense of the word. He was all fire and force, power and divine persuasion. Although he made no handbills and used no publicity campaign, people were captivated by his message and word spread all over Israel that a prophet had arisen. They came to hear him preach by the hundreds and the thousands. Divine magnetism was clearly at work in his ministry.

This was no small thing. Regardless of how true John’s preaching was, and how important his message was to Israel, if people were not drawn to hear him preach, his ministry would have been of little value. If instead of preaching to thousands, he preached to little groups of four or five throughout his short ministry, the impact would have been negligible. Having the right message is important, but having people to share it with is equally important.

I have heard of preachers who in their early days would go out into the woods to practice their preaching. They had no audience except for a few squirrels and birds. The exercise might have done them good, but it did good for nobody else. Had that been the extent of their ministry: preaching out in the woods to no one, their “ministry” would have been a total waste. Without people there is no ministry. And with tiny numbers of people the impact is normally going to be far less than with larger numbers. Not all ministers are going to fill stadiums, to be sure, but all who want to minister in Christ’s name and bless others, from Sunday school teachers to Christian writers, to YouTube ministers to international evangelists, should diligently seek to reach as many as possible. There are many factors in reaching people: wisdom, skill, natural gifts, winsomeness, passion, enthusiasm, to name a few. But there is a mysterious element which cannot be measured or seen, and yet it is of the utmost importance: the magnetism of heaven which arrests the attention of men and women and draws them deeply toward the minister and his or her message.

The Prayer Factor

Prayer seems to be strongly associated with this heavenly magnetism. Revivals throughout church history invariably begin with a strong prayer emphasis, and once the Spirit begins to move, there will be no shortage of people. The Day of Pentecost is a classic example. As the Spirit was poured out, the Bible tells us:

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred (the sound of a powerful wind, plus the apostles speaking in tongues), the multitude came together… (Acts 2:5, 6).

Peter preached to the large crowd and the result was that 3,000 people received Jesus and joined the church. But what if only seven or eight had showed up to see what was going on? Peter’s sermon could not possibly have converted 3,000 if his audience consisted of only a handful of people. It is important to note that before this amazing day of Holy Spirit outpouring, divine magnetism, and multiple conversions, there had been many days of prayer. We are told of the gathering of those few believers, that in the days before Pentecost: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…” (Acts 1:14).

A Modern, Miniature Version

I have seen a small measure of this phenomenon in my own ministry. When I was a young pastor of a small church in Missouri, at one point we decided we would come together to pray before our Sunday morning services. On that first Sunday I would guess that well over half the congregation showed up for prayer. From the moment we began doing this we saw an immediate increase in our attendance, perhaps around twenty percent. I’ll never forget hearing the story of a young woman who came into our church for the first time. I had met her recently and shared Jesus with her, but she had not shown much interest and did not give me the impression she would ever want to attend church. And yet there she was.

Afterward I talked to her, curious about what had changed. She told me that when she woke up in the morning she had no intention of coming to church, but felt something strongly pressing her to go. She said she found herself dressing and getting ready almost in spite of her own wishes, and then walking down the street to the church. She knew nobody in the church and when she arrived at our building she couldn’t work up the courage to enter the doors. Finally, one of our ladies saw her standing around and invited her in. As she told me this story, I realized that what we were seeing was no normal phenomenon. And she wasn’t the only one who seemed to just “show up” without any extra outreach efforts on our part. Not only were the services larger, but the anointing was far stronger than before. It wasn’t just extra people showing up; the Holy Spirit seemed to be showing up as well. Eventually the phenomenon died down and we never seemed to be able to reproduce it. But for that short season we experienced a small taste of divine magnetism which seemed to perfectly coincide with our gathering together for prayer.

Jesus’ Magnetism

Our Lord Jesus’ ministry was one continuous demonstration of Holy Spirit magnetism. In the Gospel of Mark we read these statements:

  1. Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction (Mark 1:45).
  2. …And it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door (Mark 2:1, 2).
  3. A great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him… (Mark 3:8).
  4. … So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him (Mark 5:24).


Jesus never lacked for an audience. Sure, the miracles were a big part of this, but it was more than miracles. Jesus oozed with God, and wherever God is manifested in a big way, people will be drawn. They may ignore our church growth campaigns, they may yawn at our efforts to be humorous, they may resist our carefully-crafted sermons, they may scoff at our sincere warnings, they may find our multi-media presentations unimpressive, but where God is, people are drawn almost in spite of themselves.

Jesus was the ultimate minister. He was fully anointed in every possible area. He was the perfect and anointed preacher, teacher, healer, evangelist, prophet, and pastor. Every anointing, every gift, every possible grace operated in full measure and perfect efficiency in His life and ministry. With us it is not so. We may be powerfully anointed in one area and incredibly weak and hopeless in another. And no matter how hard we try or how much we pray or how close to God we walk, we will never be able to operate with great anointing and see the magnetic power of the Holy Spirit in some areas of our lives. John the Baptist was an incredible prophet and evangelist, but he would probably have made a lousy pastor. I have seen some current, well-known evangelists, who are quite effective as evangelists, try to engage in teaching and it is pathetic. They get off on bizarre tangents, and in an effort to teach the “deeper things” they offer strange doctrines which could not possibly be proven from the Scriptures, and which do not edify at all. These evangelists need to stick with their evangelism.

For Us All…

It would be a mistake to assume that the magnetism of heaven is only for professional ministers and evangelists. Regardless of the specific ministry to which we are called, we need this magnetism. For a home group leader, it may make the difference between ministering to two or three couples every week, or sharing in a packed living room, bursting with people, enthusiasm, and the grace of God. For someone who posts YouTube videos it may mean having videos which receive thousands of views rather than eight or ten. For an author it may mean the difference between being published by a major publishing company and having many thousands of books sold, or self-publishing and selling 18 copies, mostly to relatives and friends.

So how do we gain this divine magnetism? In simple terms it is inexorably linked with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The greater the anointing, the greater the magnetism, the lesser the anointing, the lesser the magnetism. And anointing comes from time in the presence of Jesus, along with faith in His promise to fill us with His Spirit. Sure, one can sell books and attract audiences through natural gifts. People do it all the time. And Christians should not ignore the importance of developing their skills and honing their gifts. Jesus Christ is worthy of our very best, and we bring reproach upon our Savior when we present Him in a stumbling, clumsy, unskilled fashion.

But we must go beyond mere skill and disciplined practice. We must exercise our ministries in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with that heavenly magnetism which He always brings. We must find our own specific areas and gifts in which God is pleased to bless, anoint, and work through, and then give ourselves to undistracted ministry in those areas. The purpose is to glorify Jesus Christ. We do not seek larger audiences to satisfy our egos or impress our friends. Our aim is to present Christ to as many people as we possibly can, so that the great victory He wrought through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead may benefit the most possible people.

We dare not compare ourselves with others; we are born again in Christ with differing measures of gifts. Magnets come in large and small sizes, and divine magnetism works more powerfully in some than in others. That’s OK. God distributes His gifts as He pleases. But we all need that magnetism, in whatever form or measure God is pleased to give. Representing Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit is both our privilege and our duty.


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