I have been part of the International House of Prayer at different seasons over the last 24+ years. I was there the first day of the start of the prayer room. I was there when it went 24 hours a day. I was there when we went from the trailer to the strip mall. Just for context, I know the different “seasons” of IHOP.
My background was I was in Pensacola at the Brownsville Revival when I had my first (of only 3) open visions about revival at the end of the Church age and I didn’t know what to do with it. Long story short, Holy Spirit led me back to my hometown of Kansas City. I was to pray for revival that went from the prayer meeting to the stadiums. We called this “Stadium Christianity.” We signed up for revival, healing the sick, casting out devils and prophetic ministry.
While we sit in a ran down trailer we were praying for the power of the Spirit to break out beyond measure. The encounters that we had in that little place were amazing. We had faith for the unexpected. This is the International House of Prayer I knew.
In 2003, the move to Red Bridge changed everything. The message of revival and healing was replaced with End Times and Israel. Jill Austin moved to California, Paul Cain has a moral meltdown. YWAM starts to influence the vision. Forerunner School of Prayer become a four year school.
Eschatology at IHOP has always been a little off. It is not really Pre-wrath and it is not really Historical Premillennialism. It is its own little weird thing. There is a lot of odd ideas out there about the end of days so I am not saying they are any more bizarre than any other ministry. The problem is even so much what they believe about the end of the world but rather the elite attitude of “we have the biblical narrative.”
If there is one thing I have learned from church history, it is that someone fall morally normally starts with their doctrine. For someone to live in sin, they normally have justify it their belief system. Jim Bakker didn’t start abusive finances. He started with a lack of fear of the Lord. The same is true of Jimmy Swaggart. He didn’t start visiting a motel with a prostitute. He started with losing love for the hurting. It always starts with a theological crisis before it becomes a moral one.
Mike Bickle has always been a man that I respected for his desire to be in prayer. However, I was always aware that he was not a theologian. This caused some challenges in the past (Joel’s Army for example). There has been many times over the years that I listen to some crazy ideas and just dismissed it as “Mike is not really a teacher but feels he has to try.”
However, I was not aware that his personal doctrine was in crisis and has been for years.
Concerning Sexual Abuse
Men that I know that walk in integrity came forward with evidence that Mike Bickle has had multiple inappropriate relationships with women outside of marriage to Diane. One of them seems to be criminal in nature. There is a total of these cases that is close to a dozen over the last 30 years. In almost all cases, it is with younger women that was influenced by his “fame” or status. While I believe this women also have a moral crisis to face, (sleeping with a married man) I believe the weight of the wickedness rest on Mike.
Some of the women won’t face questioning (which is their choice) and some of them deny their sinful behavior. At least a few of them have come forward to leaders that have served with Mike over the years. Some of them have been in pastoral care, therapy and have looked for legal representation.
At the most basic level, Mike has not conducted himself in a way worthy of a leader in the Kingdom of God. Paul told the believer at Thessalonia to not even allow the appearance of evil. No matter how you see things, there is clearly the appearance of sin and being “overly friendly” with women. This is foundational. This is before you even consider the believed claims of sexual abuse.
The bottom line is that there is no reason to believe there are not victims. If there is even one, he has disqualified himself as a leader and should face church displince.
The use of spiritual driven language to influence person or control them is known as religious trauma. It is very much a problem in many Charismatic churches and it is ever present at the International House of Prayer. Some of the bizarre doctrine has been used to control people and keep their “working for low wages or free” over the years. This ranges from “don’t lose your oil” (referring to Matthew 25) to “you are earning eternal rewards.” Fear of loss of salvation or expecting services by guilting people about crowns in the eternal is witchcraft. It produces loyalty to an organization, not to Jesus.
Sadly, there has become a culture of guilt and fear that has driven much of the spiritual abuse. A lot of it falls back on Mike Bickle. He has regularly used these tactics to keep people “giving their lives to this ministry.” It was to be in the prayer room more, serve the ministry more, live a “fasted lifestyle” more, etc. It has resulted in what I term the Bicklites that become the sheriffs of the ministry that police people’s loyalty to IHOP. It is very real.
My grandfather always told me, “the Assemblies of God didn’t die for you. You don’t die for it.” (He was an AG leader). In the same vein, Service to the International House of Prayer is not what we are called to do. We are called to serve Jesus and make Him famous, not a ministry.
Prophetic History Questions
All of this leads to a question concerning the Prophetic History of the Kansas City Prophets. How much of it can be trusted? Bob Jones, Paul Cain, Bob Hartley, John Paul Jackson and now Mike Bickle all has major ethical questions. What can be trusted and what can’t? I do not consider my theology based on someone’s dream or claim to “third heaven encounters.”
In my opinion, there is at least one claim of an open vision by Mike Bickle in September 2021 that was made up. Everything I know about open visions and how it effects the human nature is foreign to what Bickle claimed happen and the response. Simply put, claiming you had a vision about being accused of sinful conduct when you have been living in, well, sinful conduct is clearly false.
However, it leads to ask even more serious questions. How much of the “encounters” actually happened and how much of it was made up to control people’s loyalty? How do we know his claims about what happened in Egypt really happened? These are questions that must be asked.
In reality, I believe the overall messages of Joel 2:28-32 happened right before the rapture of the Church and the Holy Spirit in unity with the Church crying, “Come” (Revelation 22:17) will happen. When we have to deny long hold prophetic words that proof to be made up at this point, the scripture remains true. There will be a latter rain Outpouring leading to the rapture!
Mike Bickle is unfit for eldership
Scripture is very clear of what is expected of an elder. However, I believe we need to explore what is and is not an elder. The gatekeepers of the church were the city elders over many congregations in an area in the first century. Our understanding of how they operate is not at a congregational level but a regional council. While I have no problem with our congregational model of government that many movement use, I believe, biblically speaking, it was at a city church level that the eldership was established.
Paul told to both Timothy and Titus what was expected of these men (and women). I believe that Mike Bickle is unfit as an elder on at least two grounds: being beyond reproach and having a positive image among unbelievers. There is not explaining this away. It is clear scripture that is the main and plain. This is not even touching the issue of false teachings that has been an issue with Bickle off and on for decades.
If all the concerns about his sinful behavior was to go away tomorrow, he would still have bought reproach to the church and more importantly to the cause of Christ. The name of Jesus has been smeared! This alone would mean that he would not be qualified to be a teacher, an elder, or a bishop at any level in the Church of Jesus Christ.
We also have the issue that the image of Mike Bickle is not positive among unbelievers. This has renewed questions about the image the International House of Prayer has in the community in Kansas City. Many pastors across the city view the ministry as a cult and a cesspool for heresy. This is not what 1 Timothy 3:7 says, “have a good reputation with outsiders…”
These issues, among others, completely disqualify Mike Bickle from any form of eldership at any level.