New York Times recently posted an article concerning the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO. From an outside perspective it is possible that the author was taking an un-biased avenue into what happens on a daily basis. At the same time there were a few choice words such as “incantations” in the place of ‘prayers’ and “with true Christians spirited to eternal bliss and everyone else doomed to hellfire,” that have the potential to spin the truth into a whirlwind of controversy.
While it is true that “true Christians” so to speak, will dwell joyfully and eternally with Jesus, what is not true is the air in which everyone else suffers. I’m not saying that the rejection of Jesus in this life does not lead to eternal hell in the next. What I am saying is that the air in which that occurs is not an “us and them” scenario. We’re all in this together. We’ve all been given sufficient evidence. God is making Himself known to everyone who chooses to receive His love. Truth be told, we send ourselves boldly to hell by our own stubbornness. It is the opportunity for every believer to act in enough love to warn the unbeliever of the outcome of their situation. However, I want to be clear that this club is in no way elite. All are invited in.
As far as those students who were expelled for their questioning and or disbelief in some of the theology, I am ‘almost’ one of them. I have raised multiple and serious questions as to what different individuals were saying. What I did not do was overwhelm the staff with consistent badgering that brought disunity and inattentiveness to the class that was at hand. In my 4 years at the Forerunner School of Ministry, quite often I would say, “Well, what about this” or “what about that.” Yes, there were times when I knew enough was enough, and I could tell the teacher wasn’t up for it that day, but hey, we’re all human. Stephanie Gerard, as was mentioned in the article, seemingly struggles with negativity. I don’t know her personally. However, I know those who do and I have seen numerous comments generated by her via FaceBook where the majority were of an unedifying nature. That’s not to pick on her. I can be a real grumpalumpagous in my own household. But I’m working on it.
Isn’t that what repentance is? When we are truly open and aware of our mishaps and we commit to humbling ourselves before God? IHOP has a history of sitting down with students and staff and saying hey, “How can we work this thing out?” If there is either zero willingness or obedience to at least follow fair and basic guidelines that keep IHOP both a welcoming, prayerful and learning environment; then there is no shame in saying, “I think it best for you to go.” Likewise, if one just does not agree with what they are involved with, then the obvious question to self should be, “Why are you still here?” Self made martyrdom is of no nobility at all.
I do attest that Mike Bickle has taught us redundantly to search out the scriptures to see if what IHOP is saying is true. If you get enough people gathered into one place, you are bound to wind up with some grumps. Go to almost any work place. There’s usually at least a handful or more who think the boss is a jerk. Try being the boss.
Mike has never pulled back from the prophetic. There was a hot time when many prophetic people were gathered to him. However, there is no evidence to suggest that it was not God ordained for that season of his life. It is perhaps true that some of the controversy steered some of the prophetic men and women in a different direction. However, many of them are leading prominent ministries today and are still in cahoots with Mike and the International House of Prayer. And if you think that Mike has pulled back from the prophetic, well, nothing could be further from the truth. Though it may look different than the 80’s and early 90’s, IHOP-KC has prophetic rooms that work multiple hours, near daily; to minister prophetically to people. Not to mention the study of the End-Times in itself is one of the most controversial elements of Biblical Prophecy. If anything, I would say that Mike has upped the ante.
Personally, I have never felt or heard anyone pressure even a single student to isolate their parents. I think what may have been misconstrued here is the advice that was given where if the student knowingly struggled with overwhelming sin when they left the IHOP Missions Base, then they may want to seriously “CONSIDER” not going home, in order that they stay steady in their walk, not losing everything they fought so hard for. The advice was to wait until you find the strength to overcome. There were never any mandates that I am aware of.
Elitism, as was mentioned, was never anything that was promoted by IHOP. They simply taught what they knew to be true from the Word of God. There is a tendency for the human heart to hear and embrace different doctrines that go against the mainstream and express them in an inexperienced and immature manner. However what IHOP also provided was an opportunity for us to view our own immaturity, mature through it, and embrace the Body of Christ at large. I feel that there is a form of elitism on both sides – those who are immature in their new revelation and those who are receiving it anew from the ones proclaiming it. We all need to grow. We all need to be challenged.
God Bless the author of the article. Let the spirit of prayer be stirred within them. Here is a link to it.