How do you inspire lasting change in a generation? By Cathy Harris

Mark Virkler's picture

For us at the School of Ministry, it’s our motto: Encounter God. Be Transformed. Change the World.

Everything we do at the School of Ministry is intentional. With each batch of students we see a flood of new testimonies: students set free from depression and anxiety; beautiful, supernatural physical healings; deep, intimate encounters with the Holy Spirit; bold equipping in the spiritual gifts. Everything we do is geared towards Presence. Encounter. Transformation. These are the central tenets of Catch The Fire and we pursue them fervently.  

Gordon and Cathy Harris - Directors of SOM

But we’ve recognized over the years that a desire for intentional growth isn’t enough on its own. Values need a vision and success needs a strategy!

Inspiring lasting change in a generation - transforming the world - comes secondary to encounter and transformation. But in the triumphant, glorious momentum of the School, there is a hidden warning not to ride the wave of the ‘corporate anointing’ that rests in this place. It’s hard not to. The worship is outstanding. The teaching is out-of-this-world. The presence of God is thick and it’s powerful. But it’s all too easy to misattribute a corporate encounter as an intimate, personal exchange with the Father. Those moments on the school are a dime-a-dozen. But once one exits the bubble of such a culture, returning to the normalcy of outside life devoid of that corporate anointing, where is the wave that once so nourished? How do you inspire lasting change in a generation?

The answer is lodged squarely in a simple principle: the cultivation of a personal, intimate relationship with God.

Two-Way Journaling is the primary tool we use at the School of Ministry to empower students in their relationship with God. Hearing God’s Voice is the very first topic we teach each school (two to four days immersed in the wisdom of Mark Virkler’s four keys!) and, following that, we use journaling to encourage personal encounter and transformation among all of our students.

Journaling is foundational in our five-month programs. Each week of the school has a different theme and we set weekly “Journal Assignments” in concert with that theme. “Father, how do you see me?” might come with Identity week. “God, what does it mean to be made in your image?” might accompany Genesis week. “Holy Spirit, what is your plan for restoration in my heart?” augments the work of Inner Healing week. “Jesus, how can I be a light to my generation?” equips during Prophetic Evangelism week. Each of our modules has their own set of questions each week - usually three - with a creative task included as one of them and this continues for the whole five months of the program. We also encourage them to take ownership of their own journaling and hear countless testimonies of intimate encounters, answered questions and deep revelation through the process.

Each week, students share their journaling with a trusted Small Group Leader, the primary pastoral interface of the School. Set in a dynamic of deep trust and vulnerability, our Small Group Leaders are a voice of encouragement, care and guidance as students venture into inner healing. The team, all of whom are graduates of the School itself, are there to nurture and refine students as they learn to hear His voice, and provide a useful framework of accountability and guidance for growth. As such, journaling also provides a beautiful and clear window into the pastoral needs and growth of students at the School.

We have witnessed journaling change the lives of countless students.

An example of students journaling

One student several years ago came to the school battered and bruised by a lifetime of bullying, his identity in tatters. Deep at the core of his being was a life-defining ungodly belief: “I am not worthy of love.” Every day, plagued by depression and anxiety, his mind was in turmoil with a multitude of questions. During the course of the School he was encouraged to journal every day “Father, what do you have to say to my heart?” and to make space for the Holy Spirit to breathe life into that area. One day he approached his Small Group Leader, full of frustration. “I’ve been asking God questions in my journaling every day but the only thing he tells me over and over is ‘I love you, son. I just love you.’ I must not be hearing God right - he’s not answering all the important questions I’m asking!”

But just a few weeks later, the message that the Father had been tenderly pressing into his heart found its way in. The student came to his Small Group Leader in floods of tears; he had finally got it: he was passionately, all-consumingly loved by his Father. High walls thrown up in response to hurt came tumbling down, all from the freedom of the power of the word of God. In the wake of that revelation the student became a fervent advocate for journaling, writing dozens of pages each day, pouring his heart out to God and radiating transformation in the process.  

The process was a night-and-day transformation. Through his journaling God began to show him answers to problems, gave him strategies, revelations and wisdom, and cultivated a deep, intimate process of restoration from the trauma of his past. The depression melted away and he blossomed back to life, a bubbling ball of laughter and hope.  Eight years on and two-way journaling is still a foundational part for him; his 22 journals written over those years are proof of it! And it wasn’t just a deep heart journey: the Holy Spirit even began to show him inventions, technologies and breakthroughs relating to the field of science he worked in!

Why is journaling so effective?

Put simply, journaling empowers consistency in relationship with God. It provides a tool for all times and all seasons. A good habit. A focal point for connection with the Father each and every day. And, encouragingly, a written record which can always be returned to in times of testing.

The simplicity of the four keys means that anyone can do it. Anyone can encounter God and find breakthrough through the process of journaling. No matter where they are at, journaling is an accessible tool for all of our students which cultivates a deep and long-lasting relationship with God that embodies Encounter, Presence and Transformation.

Utterance of the phrase “Go and journal about it!” has become somewhat of a hallmark among our graduate family and wider team. But it carries immense gravity in the School: each one of us, and the stories of a thousand students, are living testament to the power of an encounter with the word of God.

Gordon and Cathy Harris are Directors of the School of Ministry at Catch the Fire Church in Toronto


Add new comment

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Results 1 - 10 of 480


4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages | Retail: $16.99

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?

Price: $14.95

Dialogue with God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 296 Pages

This top seller for 30 years from Bridge Logos provides a narrative, right-brain presentation of the principles of how to hear God's voice. Especially enjoyable for personal use, it makes a great gift for introducing a loved one to the voice of God. This book teaches the four keys to hearing God's voice in readable style, and also devotes two entire chapters to moving samples of people's journaling (i.e. their two-way dialogue with God).

Price: $17.95
Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

9 Books | 10 CDs | 10 DVDs | Save Over 20%

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

Price: $175.00

How to Hear God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 317 Pages

We recommend that you order the newest revision of this book titled 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice. It includes 95% of the content of How to Hear God's Voice but is reorganized so it fits perfectly with the 10 DVDs on this subject by Mark Virkler. In addition, it gets you started using the four keys earlier in the book and gives you more journaling samples and exercises. Since we have removed the large margins, it is a smaller and less expensive book.

Price: $24.95

Prayers That Heal the Heart - Revised & Expanded 20th Anniversary Edition

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 320 Pages

Prayer counseling that breaks every yoke! Everything you need to experience deep healing of your soul and spirit.

Did you know that you don’t need to be continually plagued by negative thoughts, feelings, pictures or memories?

It is not part of the "human condition" to feel the constant nagging of doubt, insecurity, or anger. No matter what sin you are trying to overcome, what lie you think you’ll always believe, or what traumas your heart has suffered in the past, you will receive total freedom and restoration by praying these prayers in faith. 

Price: $19.95

Twelve Weeks to Spiritual Mastery - Group Coaching

A group coaching experience with Mark Virkler

Because I could not find a Spirit-anointed teacher/coach, I spent ten extremely frustrating years seeking to hear God’s voice!!! Suggestions offered did not help me, things like: “You just know that you know. It is a still small voice. He speaks from your heart.” No one could give me the answer I needed which was: Hearing God’s voice is as simple as quieting yourself down, fixing your eyes on Jesus, recognizing His voice as spontaneous, flowing thoughts and writing down His flow as it is coming. Test what you have written after the flow is done, NOT while it is occurring.

Price: $1,200.00

Counseled by God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 146 Pages

Have you ever been defeated by negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, inferiority, condemnation or depression? Have you tried to fight them off unsuccessfully? Is there an answer that is deeper than simply trying to mentally reason yourself out of these emotions? Is there a way that Jesus can speak a word of life into the depths of your emotional despair and bring healing on a deep level? Is there a form of Christian counseling that begins and ends with the movement of Christ within your heart, rather than simply with the words of man?

Price: $10.95
Hear God Through Your Dreams Workbook Cover

Hear God Through Your Dreams Workbook

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 92 Pages

A newer book has been released that accompanies this workbook: Click here for Hearing God Through Your Dreams by Charity Kayembe and Mark Virkler (featured on Sid Roth's "It's Supernatural", with almost a million views just on YouTube).

Do you often wake up feeling there was a significant message in your dream, but you’re just not sure what it is? Like Daniel and Joseph, do you long to be able to help others understand their own dreams and win them to Christ as you explain His night messages to them? Wouldn't it be nice if you could receive mid-course corrections from the Lord while you sleep? Do you wish you could be receiving divine inspiration, creative solutions to problems, and direction from the Lord during that third of your life that you’re “just” sleeping?

Price: $11.95

Hearing God Through Your Dreams

by Mark Virkler and Charity Virkler Kayembe | 292 Pages

Learn How to Hear God’s Voice, Even When You Are Sleeping

It is always fun to be on the winning team. Well look what God has done with Charity's new dreams teaching. It has taken off like a rocket with a live TV interview on Cornerstone Network and her Sid Roth interview which has almost a million views on YouTube!

Price: $16.99

Everyday Angels

by Charity Virkler Kayembe and Joe Brock 289 Pages

You can partner with Heaven’s angelic hosts!

Do you have guardian angels? Does God want you to know them? Find out what Scripture reveals and how YOU can interact with the company of Heaven!

The supernatural realm permeates our natural world! Therefore, experiencing angels should be an everyday occurrence–we simply need to open our spiritual eyes to their reality and role in our lives.

Price: $16.99