Disqualified people are rushing to social media to establish illegitimate ministries. Are pastors to blame?There's a level of toxicity regarding the prophetic in today's churches that must be addressed if we hope to hear God's voice and advance with clarity and power in these end times. People who have had their ministries rejected in the church are taking their services to Facebook and other social communities in hopes of developing influence. The problem? Influence without authority is birthed out of deep dysfunction and it can lead people into that same dysfunctional, unauthorized spirituality. They would argue they receive their authority and their authorization from God directly. This tired argument is evidence of resistance to being rightfully responsive to flesh and bone people that God has called us to serve and honor. We don't have the option to reject human authority while, in the same breath, attempting to establish ourselves as an authority. It's silliness. Listen to the podcast on this topic…
PROPHECY IS CRITICAL IN THE CHURCH TODAYWe cannot go on without pure, potent and mature prophecy filling our churches every single week. The lack of God's rhema voice is telling as churches are resorting more and more to sociological mind tricks instead of advancing according to supernatural revelation. It has become quite rare to see a body that's healthy and strong in the prophetic as people are rightly equipped and released to communicate oracles from heaven. Faith is epidemically low as millions of Christians have no idea what God's voice sounds like.
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)The word “word” in the above verse is translated as rhema. This is the “now” word of God, the revelation whether it's a prophetic word or the words of Scripture leaping off the pages. When this active, precise and timely message from God pierces a people, faith skyrockets. Not only does a strong prophetic culture give a local church body the ability to move ahead in the direction God has determined, but everybody involved is wildly invested as a result of hearing God speak. True prophetic messages don't stop at the ears or the mind, but they sear our spirits and impact our emotions like no other message can. When this happens, faith goes up and we respond in unity, power and joy. Sadly, most churches could not be described as prophetic churches. There are reasons for this. Blame rests both on the pastor and on the people. Let's deal with the people first.
10 REASONS WHY PASTORS DON'T LET YOU PROPHESY IN CHURCH SERVICES
ONE: A LACK OF HUMILITYI'll begin by communicating loud and clear something many prophetic people won't want to hear: never, ever start attending a church with the intention of mentoring, teaching or refining the pastor via prophecy or otherwise. What arrogance it must take for you to presume such an uninvited role in your church. If your wealth of wisdom, knowledge and experience are needed, be sure the pastor will request your counsel. Otherwise, keep quiet. Whether in this scenario or another, pastors have no use for people who want to minster to those they have been commissioned to protect if they aren't truly humble. Meekness is a prerequisite for prophetic ministry as any measure of arrogance or selfish ambition will taint the messages being delivered. This following passage of Scripture speaks to this issue perfectly:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:13-17 (NKJV)Wisdom is demonic if self-seeking and envy is what drives it. Follow the advice in verse seventeen and be willing to yield.
TWO: DISORDERSpeaking of being willing to yield, undisciplined prophetic people tend to enjoy rebelling against the order of the house. Influencing the service with the spiritualized sound of their voice is what drives them. Many years ago as I was planting my first church a visitor asked me about our prophetic protocol. I explained that we value prophecy and that she could deliver a prophetic word to me or leadership for review during the worship service. She didn't like that answer. She went on to say that she would have to interrupt the service, even if I were preaching, if God gave her a prophetic word for the body. Ummm, nope. She presumed her supposed prophetic insight was important enough to violate order. We were interested in investing in her and in her prophetic gift and in developing a very active, life-giving prophetic culture, but she didn't want to function within those boundaries. She ended up leaving the church and we were the better for it.
THREE: IMMATURITYThere's a difference between someone who is actively and willingly growing in their gift and someone who refuses to grow up. Those who are intentionally undisciplined and who are not giving themselves to everything that needs to be done to grow and develop their gifting should not be set free to prophesy in the church. A lot of damage can be done. These people love to prophesy, but you don't see them in the prayer rooms. They are unresponsive to leadership. They aren't in the Word.
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)Those who are prophesying are most definitely functioning in the arena of spiritual discernment. If they cannot discern spiritually due to a lack of maturity, there's no way they can be trusted to deliver prophetic words. Does this mean their prophecy is always wrong? No. But it means they are reckless in their devotion to stewarding their gift, and if they are driven by the wrong spirit, they can do damage.
FOUR: ADVERSE TO CORRECTIONThere's no pastor alive who should allow someone to influence the body who won't take correction. This is not only an indicator of immaturity, but also of a dangerous, unsubmitted person. It reveals their heart and that's a heart that should never be trusted to minister.
1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV)Enough said.
FIVE: YOU WON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWERThe pastor has the right and responsibility to refuse to allow someone to deliver a prophetic word (or to minister in any fashion) if he chooses. If someone reacts wrongly to this, that's evidence enough that they shouldn't have been allowed to share the message. Understand, much of the time a leader will disallow a prophetic word simply because he doesn't feel it fits. It may have nothing to do with the character of the person who desires to share the word. It may just be a timing issue. We need to yield to our leaders and not get uptight or feel rejected if they don't believe our ministry is appropriate at that time. If you are a prophetic person, you need to understand that what you wish to share in a public setting isn't always what others feel should be shared. Since you are a person under authority, you need to be okay with the reality that your leaders may not want you to share your revelation at times. If not, you'll grow bitter very quickly, and then we should run far and fast from any prophetic word you try to impose on us.
SIX: A POOR TRACK RECORDIt wouldn't make sense for a pastor to allow someone to preach on a Sunday morning if they have a history of teaching error. Further, they shouldn't allow someone to minister as a part of the worship team if they are always off key or don't show up for rehearsals on time. This simple and obvious realty applies to prophetic people as well. If they repeatedly deliver wrong, confusing or unscriptural messages, they can't be allowed to continue. Pastors must ensure truth is communicated and if someone can't be trusted to deliver truth, they must be benched until they can grow as a Believer.
SEVEN: MANIPULATIONThis is a big, big point and I want to make sure I have your full attention: If you are attempting to use your supposed prophetic gift to steer the church in a direction not sanctioned by the leadership, you are functioning in witchcraft. You are in rebellion and your ministry is dark and it should not be tolerated. Charismatic witchcraft is rampant and we must have bold pastors who fear God more than man to deal very aggressively with it. If you are operating in this unruly spirit and attempting to pass it off as prophecy, you need to go. Leave. Don't come back. I'd be quick to show someone like this the door, unless they were truly repentant. Don't underestimate the damage that such a demonic spirit can do in a church, especially if the leaders God ordained to protect the flock refuse to act. Their silence can kill an entire church, and it happens every day. God will protect a leader who is “wrong” (I'm not talking about sin, I'm talking about organizational direction) before he affirms a prophetic person who is “right” yet manipulative, rebellious and fueled by an evil spirit of witchcraft.
EIGHT: DOMINATING THE SERVICEThere goes Sister Linda again! Oh, Brother Joe is about to stand up and deliver a word…I can just feel it! We know the all too predictable scenario all too well. In many churches there's one or two people who, week after week, dominate the prophetic culture by delivering word after word after word after word after word…you get it. Again, the counsel is to yield! Do you have any idea how much cringing goes on in the church, by the pastor and by most of the body, when the same people are giving nearly the same words in most every service? Oh, it's true. The cringe factor is high. Pastors, the body is often wondering why you don't put a stop to it. You need to do your job and lovingly encourage these types of people on how to rightly minister in your local church setting.
NINE: GOSSIPClosely related to manipulation, and equally as deadly, is gossip. Sadly, unrestrained prophetic people are famous for their ability to gossip. Stopping with a manipulative prophetic word is definitely not enough for them. When leadership doesn't change the course of the church after repeated doses of prophetic pressure, their next step is to gather people around them and to sell their perspective. Any good charismatic witch would do just that. All it takes is a Christianized coven meeting to give real power to their motives. Gossips are some of Satan's most anointed salesmen, and when that person is looked up to as a prophetic voice, you have some incredible manipulative, supernatural and extremely evil power behind their words. They can destroy a church overnight, and they cannot be tolerated.
TEN: YOU ARE NEEDY/YOU HAVE IDENTITY ISSUESPeople who need to minister for the sake of affirmation, or to feed their misguided identities, shouldn't be given a platform, unless that platform is at the altar. Too many wounded prophetic people have developed a craving for affirmation in their gifting, and that weakness has compromised that gift, no matter how precise or developed it is. Our identity must be found in nobody and nothing else than Jesus. It should be easy to lay our gifts and callings down, with the only grief coming from our passion to see lives transformed. Our own need to minister should never be a factor. Those who need to minister should not be allowed to minister. Instead, they should spend time with Jesus and give themselves to the process of healing. Then, they will be free, healthy and trustworthy when it's time to step into ministry again.
PASTORS, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE NEED FROM YOU REGARDING THEIR PROPHETIC CALLING
ONE: EQUIPPINGA key reason there's so much dysfunction in prophetic people today, and a reason they are running to Facebook to minister, is because pastors have failed to equip them. It's as simple as that. Prophetic people are yearning to be trained, but it's nearly impossible to find a church today that includes a prophetic school as a part of their foundational culture. Heck, you can barely find a Sunday School class focusing on it. Pastors, it's your responsibility to equip the people in the prophetic. How can you hear what God is saying if you don't? Church is a corporate venture, and while you are the point person, and while God will speak directly to you in most situations, you need others to confirm those words and to introduce additional revelation that's critical for the mission. If you shut down the prophetic in your services to avoid the issues I addressed above, you are wrong. It's as clear as that. Their failure is most often your failure.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (NKJV)
TWO: AN OUTLETPeople need an outlet. Prophetic messengers especially must have a place to release their revelations. If not in the church, then where? If not in a safe place with the oversight of leadership it will happen unmoderated, uncontrolled and undisciplined in public. Pastors, you have no option but to nurture your prophetic culture in such a way that the body can minister the various impacts the Spirit of God is having on them. If they are muzzled they will most usually break free and unleash those words from a place of rebellion. Their rebellion is not only their fault. Very often, it's also yours.
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)
THREE: FEEDBACKProphetic people want feedback. Those who are thin skinned will be revealed, which is advantageous to you. Those who are truly humble and teachable will come alive as you share your heart regarding their ministry. Did they prophesy from a healthy heart? Let them know. Was their message a little confusing? Coach them. Be invested in their development and your church will be the better for it.
FOUR: NO FAVORITISMFirst things first. It's okay for pastors to acknowledge prophetic people who have passed tests, proven themselves and been faithful. They absolutely should be favored. Further, those who have failed the tests should not be favored. That being said, all things being equal, it's important that pastors give room to everybody who's healthy and ready to minister. The young need room to grow, the new people need a family to thrive in and those who have been trusted for years need to mentor the next generation. If you want to ensure a church stays in a spiritual rut, refuse to acknowledge anybody except those who have been in the inner circle for decades.
FIVE: A RIGHT RESPONSEProphetic people don't simply want to share a legitimate word from God. They are excited about the shift in the atmosphere that it will bring. Too often, pastors want to grab the reigns as fast as possible after a prophetic word is given and redirect back in the previous direction. Pastors must humbly admit that God will use prophetic people to bring fresh wind that demands the sails are repositioned so the boat starts moving the direction the Holy Spirit desires. These prophetic people simply want to see the fruit of their obedience to release oracles instead of the resistance and rejection that is so commonplace in the church today.
SIX: ENCOURAGEMENTEverybody needs encouragement, especially prophetic people! Speak life into them and let them know how blessed you are because of their ministry. Thank them for their heart, for their devotion to humility, for their growth. Let them know you see them developing and that you appreciate them. A healthy, loved and encouraged prophetic person is a valuable member of your team.
SEVEN: VALIDATIONThere comes a time to publicly validate a ministry. This holds true for every ministry, but it seems those with prophetic callings are all too often overlooked. If someone has passed tests and proven themselves, over an extended period of time, let the body know you trust them and that their ministry is valid. Not only will this encourage the individual and give them a track to run on, it will show everybody else the type of person and what it takes to be validated. It will give them a goal. It will communicate that others, who have not proven themselves, are not affirmed, at least not at that level.
VICE VERSAA bunch of the above points could be applied to the other party. Pastors also must be humble. They shouldn't manipulate. They must be mature, teachable and not a gossip. The prophetic person should encourage their pastor. They should have a right response to leadership. However, lets start the way I laid it out. We must see health come to the church, especially today, and most certainly in the arena of the prophetic. God has a lot to say to us.
Has Detroit failed in the opportunity to initiate and steward one of the greatest revivals known to man?
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
That’s an amazing, invigorating promise! Our God is a very good God and he has very good plans to prosper us. Amen!
Wait just a minute. Let’s look at the context of this popular, biblical word of encouragement.
Just because God is indeed very good does not mean we have carte blanche rights to provide false encouragement to others. We see this quite a bit in the prophetic movement. Well intentioned people desire to encourage others and, instead of giving the pure prophetic message, they focus solely on the positive.
Now, of course, when handled rightly, this has precedence.
1 Cor 14:3 …the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
So, it’s very good and right to prophesy with a motive of encouragement. However, the prophecy must also be accurate. We can’t depart from the truth in order for people to be encouraged.
In Jeremiah 29:11 we see an extremely encouraging word… but consider the larger story:
Jer 29:7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
First, God, in response to the unsatisfactory condition of Israel, is the one who led them into exile! A very good God did something that we might call bad!
Notice how the “church” was listening to the prophets that gave them the words they wanted to hear? God was clear. He did not send those prophets.
In fact, in stark contrast to the words of quick freedom from exile the false prophets were communicating, God tells them to get cozy in their current situation in captivity. They are going to be there for a while:
Jer 29:4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
What? We’re believing for freedom! For revival! God is telling us to get use to our captivity? We are to build houses? That takes a long time! Plant gardens? Get married? What?! Have kids? That takes years! Woah. Wait a minute! Then we have to wait for our kids to get married and have kids? This isn’t at all what we are praying for!
No wonder they wanted to listen to the false prophets.
Then comes the accurate prophecy:
Jer 29:10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
What a story!
God has a plan, but the process may be very different than we might presume. It may take much longer than we might hope.
REVIVAL IN DETROIT
I believe the Detroit region is still on the radar, but the first sweep, the first ping, has passed. How long will this region remain on target? I’ll say this—we can’t risk the time even to discuss it. It’s time to work.
The question is, what is God’s prophetic word for Detroit?
Are we to listen to words that declare that revival is unavoidable and then kick back and wait? Or, is there are greater, more inconvenient plan that God wants to reveal to us?
My view is that Detroit has missed it for this season, and we will need to regroup quickly and prepare for the next sweep. If you look at the radar image I’ve included with this post, you might consider it to represent God’s perspective as he is looking down on America, looking for a city that will rise about the others. Which city church will unite and initiate the greatest revival strategy since 120 people holed up in an upper room 2000 years ago?
It may take a year or five years before the next sweep of the radar comes and Detroit has the opportunity to send an unmistakable ping of revival vibrations heavenward. What will we do between now and then?
CLEAR, UNAVOIDABLE STRATEGY
I’ve heard it prophesied many times that stadiums would be filled with praying people in Detroit—and I agree with this prophecy. But, it’s a ways off. Stop and consider this. If we can’t even fill churches on Sunday with fiery people, how in the world do we think we’ll fill stadiums with people who are disciplined in fervent prayer? It’s insanity. We couldn’t even fill a stadium at The Call after months of preparation and alarms being sounded! The strategy must change.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein
Take a moment and pull your head out of any mystical, hyper-spiritual fog you may be swimming in and consider reality:
There are over 19,000 cities in America and NONE of them are experiencing revival. We are zero for 19,000! There aren’t ANY! AT ALL!
That means the strategies must change with such extreme and sudden shock that anybody who isn’t locked in with God will be radically disoriented. It’s a necessary disorientation.
Can we be honest with ourselves? The strategies in Detroit, though often extremely honorable, and truly impactful to a degree, have not resulted in revival. In fact, I wonder if the region is spiritually worse off now than it was just a few years ago. The talk of revival is rare and the urgency to contend is falling on mostly deaf ears. People are experiencing hope deferred and sickness is hitting this region.
For this to change, a simple yet costly strategy must be initiated now. The cost is so extreme that anybody who is devoted to the typical American lifestyle just won’t pay it. The cost of revival includes the surrender of personal dreams, lifestyles and plans.
If you are a Christian, now is your time to lock in with great passion and without excuse to the corporate mission of prayer. Be together with other Christians and pray in the Spirit, with fire, continually. Upper room style. No excuses allowed. Cares of life can win no more. Cancel your life. Change your schedule. Your job now, every single day, is to gather and pray.
Check out the plan, and notice how similar it is to the passage in Jeremiah:
2 Chron 7:11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.
- Step one: (verse 11) Leaders must build the house of prayer. In the last year alone at least two houses of prayer in this region have closed. That’s the wrong direction!
- Step two: (verse 12) God will make it clear that Detroit has been chosen. I believe supernatural visitations will help confirm this.
- Step three: (verse 13) A difficult season will come that will provoke the people and provide a clear mandate to them. Notice that leaders already built the house of prayer, and now it’s the people’s turn to step into position.
- Step four: (verse 14a) The true followers of Jesus will be revealed via a mass movement of humility, prayer and holiness. It will overwhelm this city.
- Step five: (verse 14b) A movement of healing will initiate not only on the people but on the city, on the land.
- Step six: (verse 15) The precedent of prayer and intimate communion between God and his people will be established.
- Step seven: (verse 16) The city will be known as a holy place that hosts God himself, exalts his name and has his attention forever.
THE PLAN SIMPLIFIED
The church is a house of prayer for all nations. The primary, most dominant activity in the church must be deep and continual prayer. It’s not a house teaching, a house of evangelism, a house of relationships or a house of anything. The church exists for prayer fueled people to conquer the world!
With this in mind, if you want to experience revival in your lifetime, start doing the following:
- Pray in the Holy Spirit at least an hour a day personally.
- Gather together multiple times a week to pray in the Holy Spirit corporately with your local church or an intercession movement in the region.
- Mirror the commitment of a fully devoted senior leader in the church. Never miss a service. Show up early. Stay late. Never gossip or complain. Take ownership of the mission.
- Pay attention to regional revival events—and attend with expectancy.
- Be responsive to leadership as they prayerfully give apostolic direction to the movement.
- Give extravagantly to the house of prayer (the church).
- Be humble.
- Live holy. Stop sinning. Stop watching most movies, TV shows and other forms of entertainment.
- Eliminate every distraction, even good ones, that keep you away from the costly, inconvenient daily mission of prayer and service.
- Stir up your faith, walk in the Spirit and prepare to build. There’s a lot of work ahead!
We can’t take a wait and see approach. Stop playing it safe. Dive in and pay the price and take the risk and participate in the mission of revival with a level of devotion that will help calibrate the church back to the fiery heart of God!
And, do it quickly. The next sweep of the radar is approaching. Fast. And it may not sweep again.