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This article goes to those church leaders connected in some way to our ministry work. I feel an obligation and burden to address recent events in the charismatic world. This will probably be the first article in a short series.

I have written this with fear, trembling, and tears, having agonized for months before God through many thoughts and emotions to produce words that would benefit fellow local church leaders in light of tragic news, divine chastisement, and what these say to the larger church.

The scandal surrounding Mike Bickle and IHOPKC has rocked the charismatic world.

It has given unbelievers reason to reproach Jesus’ name and further reason to mistrust ministers of his gospel.

But it has also given the church reason to humble ourselves before God and to learn some radical, biblical lessons amid our humiliation.

Where Are the Shepherds?

Several senior, high profile church leaders have recently done the church a disservice through their public statements about the scandal.

Primarily I refer to the confession of Mike Bickle (hereafter, “MB”). But secondarily I refer to a handful of other leaders whose public statements failed to show biblical discernment and therefore failed to stand for righteousness and protect the ones the Lord calls, “my sheep” (Ezek 34:12). Their influence compounded the damage done by MB’s failure.

In my estimation, their statements were irresponsible and neglected to help the abused and the broader church to heal. They were more willing to cover for those inflicting pain rather than those being afflicted.

My main focus, however, will address MB’s confession. And my main concern is to help you as local leaders handle the Scriptures for yourselves and interpret everything through their lens. Some well-known and trusted leaders failed to do this in the broad daylight of social media. We must not follow their example.

But I do not say this to criticize them nor to complain. I say this rather to point out that we cannot necessarily trust people’s perspective just because they are well-known, lead large ministries, or speak often in the public space.

We must judge everything by God’s Word.

We must follow Jesus as the Good Shepherd that we might be his faithful under-shepherds.

We must exercise discernment—both as a lifestyle and as an all-but-forgotten charismatic gift (1 Cor 12:10; 14:29).

Yes, “judging spirits” is both a command and a gift (1 Thess 5:20-21; 1 John 4:1).

Without its exercise, many in the charismatic world have fallen prey to false teaching, the elevation of prophetic utterances over Scripture, misinterpretations of biblical texts, and the power of abusive leaders who use these tactics to exalt themselves at the expense of others.

With all of our hearts, let us keep to Jesus and his Word, by the Spirit.

Enter At Your Own Risk

If you have not been keeping track of this crisis because you do not often use social media, I commend you. If you do not want to muddle your mind with any of this, please feel free to stop reading now.

If you do choose to read further, it will help to read MB’s public confession, which you can find here

From this point forward, this essay will refer to the public statement linked above.

A Murky Yet Translucent Self-Disclosure

It is important for us to see that, in view of clear, biblical teaching, MB has borne witness to his own sins, ongoing brokenness, and disqualification from ministry for most of the span of his IHOP ministry—and probably earlier.

Being still un-restored, and because of the reproach leveled by his own admissions, he will never be qualified for Christian leadership. “Restoration” is possible for him as a member of Christ’s body but not as a leader in Christ’s body.

Looking back, the fact that MB was disqualified for leadership for most or all of his ministry at IHOP leaves us with some disturbing facts to assess. In the future, I will try to wrestle with some of these facts, how this could happen at all, and what it means for the charismatic church’s larger culture.

My discussion here will prepare us for that later discussion. It will also set the groundwork for my next article, an evaluation of a prophetic dream by Jeremiah Johnson released on Facebook in January.

But First, Regarding the Confession…

There are several elements I find amiss with MB’s public confession. But I will point out one root error because of its vast implications. It is a fatal flaw that should have immediately alerted every person reading it.

Yet, even with its glaring omission some still saw MB’s repentance as genuine and adequate, and they publicly vouched for him on its basis. One insisted that MB “clearly repented” and should return better than ever, while another insists that, because we believe in restoration according to Gal 6:1, “we will see and hear from Mike [Bickle] again.”

These statements, and others like them coming from influential leaders, are bold, irresponsible, and unbiblical. Such reckless perspectives that misuse Scripture reflect the underlying tendencies in the charismatic world that helped get us in this mess to begin with. We cannot be swayed by their influence just because they come from public figures.

In his confession, MB admitted to “sin,” “moral failures,” and “inappropriate behavior.” Though he stops short of calling this what it is—adultery—he does at least admit that he sinned. Yet he offers two qualifiers to his sin, on the basis of which he believes his moral failures have been long-resolved. But these two qualifiers in fact alert us to an even deeper problem.

MB’s sins were never resolved. The same points he uses to qualify his adultery are the very ones that prove the problems persist.

Two Disqualifying Qualifiers

First, MB distances himself from his moral failures by noting the long passage of time, stating they occurred “20+ years ago.” He does not state over how long of a span these failures occurred, despite admitting they happened on several “occasions.” This means the sins happened with some frequency. But MB does not tell us how frequently.

Jane Doe’s testimony, credible and essentially unchallenged by MB, fills in these details. And now there are two more similar testimonies, expanding the time frame. But for the sake of this article, I will focus mostly on MB’s own words.

He intends the historical interval of “20+ years ago” to diminish the current relevance of his sins. He implies this himself, stating that he makes his confession now because someone else exposed him. Otherwise, he clearly states that, in his mind, his unethical behavior was resolved before God long ago. He further implies that bringing this up after so long was unnecessary (since it was all “under the blood”), yet he devoutly accepts the current exposure as further “delayed” and “loving” discipline from God.

However, in light of what we are about to discuss, the distance of time does not help MB’s case. It hurts it. While trying to distance himself, MB in fact propels his guilt and deception more forcefully into the present, as well as the past and future.

MB’s second qualifier, then, claims that he repented sufficiently back when all this happened, “20+ years ago.” He claims that, in response to this repentance, he received direct approval from God. In his own language, MB says he repented “quickly and sincerely,” received “assurance from God,” and resolved “daily” to live holy in every way.

MB further claims he went through this exercise on all of the “occasions” (plural) that he fell, however often that was. “In those times” (plural), he says, God helped him with grace by granting him a “broken and contrite heart that was filled with godly sorrow.”

Most reading this will recognize the biblical allusions to David’s repentance in Psa 51. But despite these hints at David-like repentance, there is one glaring, scriptural omission that makes MB’s spiritual language, prophetic claims, and biblical allusions inappropriate and misleading.

There is no mention of MB’s submission to the Bible’s clear call for a process of restoration led by spiritually mature saints.

The Achilles Heel of Omission

When I first read the confession, this huge gap quickly caught my eye, staring back at me like a giant hole in the bottom of a boat—a hole that makes the entire ship sink. MB mentions his repeated, private repentance which he claims resulted in “assurance.” But there was no mention of the Bible’s clear instruction for restoration after a serious transgression.

In view of Scripture’s testimony about the distinct damage imposed by sexual sin (1 Cor 6:18; 1 Thess 4:3-6), Scripture’s prohibition of power abuse by leaders (Matt 20:25-28; 23:1-12; 1 Tim 3:3; 1 Pet 5:3), and Scripture’s strict qualifications for leaders (1 Tim 3:3-13; Titus 1:5-9), we should consider it biblical common sense that a leader needs rigorous restoration after adultery.

In fact, there are those who doubt someone should ever return to leadership after adultery. But at the very least, the leader should be taken out of ministry and sufficiently restored as a man, husband, father, and member of a local body before returning to any kind of leadership in God’s house. And this common sense should be applied all the more if the adultery occurred with a much younger woman who testifies to the use of prophecy to manipulate her.

Still, regardless of the force of biblical common sense, we have an explicit biblical call to restoration in Gal 6:1:

“Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.” 

This is both a command and invitation for the church to show love to a fallen comrade. The saints’ first inclination should be to pick that person up and help him become whole again, rather than quickly banish him. That is Paul’s point here.

As a Spirit-filled man, Paul cared about people who were entrapped by sin. He was aware of Jesus’ instructions to run after straying sheep while also lovingly dealing with their sins (see the full passage, Matt 18:12-20). “Spiritual people,” therefore, are mature people developed in Christ-like character—that is, “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23)—causing them to respond to sin with both gentleness and remedial grace.

(Interesting side note: Paul’s Greek word for “caught” [prolambanō] includes a prefix that seems to refer to the “early” discovery of the sin for the restoration process to be effective, as opposed to the transgressor’s continuing to sin, making restoration more difficult.)

So yes, the church should seek to restore the fallen. But we should make no mistake: Scripture’s stated goal is restoration from sin, not restoration despite sin. And it clearly requires willingness on the part of the one entrapped by sin. Jesus taught on this, and Paul probably has Jesus’ teaching in the back of his mind (Matt 18:15-18).

(For the conscientious Bible students keeping score at home, I do believe Paul had access to most of the gospels’ Jesus sayings before they were published. He quotes some and echoes many throughout his letters.)

Paul is saying that “spiritual people” are by nature compassionate, but also by nature they are compassionate without compromise. After all, how can they be truly compassionate if they are willing to allow even some of sin’s damaging power to continue? No, their compassion lies in their mercy to pursue straying sheep in order to lead them into freedom from their sins. In this way they are also showing compassion to the larger church.

Therefore, they must seek to repair the fallen person. That means the person entrapped in sin is broken. The word Paul uses for “restoration” was employed in the medical field, as in setting a broken limb, or for fixing frayed materials, like when the disciples were “mending” their torn nets (Mark 1:19). It was also used to put something or someone in proper working order, to prepare, or to equip for a task (Luke 6:40; 2 Cor 13:11; Eph 4:12; 1 Thess 3:10).

All of this means that a person guilty of “transgressing” the boundaries of right and wrong, particularly if he is “practicing” a destructive sin (Gal 5:21), is a broken person in need of repair. The extent of the break determines the extent of the repair. Whatever the requirements, though, he must be fixed.

Forgiven ≠ Fixed

A broken branch cannot bear the weight of fruit.

A quarterback cannot throw a ball if his arm is injured with a compound fracture. He needs surgery. Then he needs a time period of immobility for bones and muscles to mend. Then he needs rehab to re-strengthen and re-train those bones and muscles. Restoration after serious injury is a long process.

Likewise, the broken church member must be repaired over time. Yes, honest repentance immediately reconciles his relationship to God. True repentance and faith mean the sinful member is fully forgiven and in right standing before God. But to recover strength for health and productivity takes time.

And if a fallen man is married, something in his marriage is broken and needs repair. How can a man minister to the church family if his own family is broken?

Further still, his relationship with the body of Christ is broken and needs repair. There are some functions for which he must remain on the sideline until the mature family members who restored him, the “spiritual ones,” sign off on his recovery.

That is the call of Gal 6:1, and it is not an option; it is required. This is especially true of sexual sin, which is the first sin Paul mentions in his long list of “deeds of the flesh” in this same context (Gal 5:19).

How much more if that sin is adultery, or worse, adultery for which the transgressor took advantage of a younger person? Or for which he used his ministry position (!) to gain that advantage? Falling into immorality only once would require lengthy restoration. How much more if that immorality happens often and is compounded by these other, quite serious behaviors?

Such a person would be too broken for any kind of fruitful life, let alone to be a pastor, a high profile teacher, and the designer and founder of a large, influential ministry. Such a person would need urgent, thorough, and lengthy restoration by trusted believers rather than continuous, private repentance.

And remember this crucial distinction: the “restoration” of Gal 6:1 is not restoration back to ministry leadership. That is not in Paul’s view at all.

Restoration to… What?

It is rather restoration for re-integration back into the body of Christ as a member capable of bearing the fruit of the Spirit in “normal” relationships. Read the previous and ensuing context of Gal 6:1 carefully (especially, Gal 5:13-15; 6:5, 10).

It speaks of serving one another through love, helping to carry fellow church members’ burdens, and doing good to the “household of faith.” Nowhere is leadership mentioned. Rather, the whole point is for the fallen brother or sister to be restored as a healthy church member.

Think about it. The “fruit of the Spirit” is just that: fruit. These are God’s own character traits that grow organically out of each church member’s life in the Spirit over time and proven relationships. “Fruit” is not a reference to the positive effect of someone’s teaching ministry or charismatic leadership abilities (yet another topic I will discuss in a future article).

A healthy church member’s character should nourish others through genuine fellowship with him or her. Restoration in this context has nothing to do with leadership positions or getting up in front to teach. It rather has to do with becoming a person who so flourishes in the fruit of the Spirit that just spending time with him or her makes others more like Jesus.

When a minister falls because of immorality, the church does not need him to pass through a restoration process geared to get him back into ministry. That is not the heart of biblical restoration and is actually irrelevant to God’s purpose (Rom 8:29).

The church needs him to go through a restoration process that restores his soul and his character. Has truth been re-infused into his innermost being? Have time and relationships proven him a spiritually healthy saint? Is his family doing well? Is his life reasonably transparent and clearly, spiritually strong without reference to leadership?

From a biblical point of view, we should not regard leaders who are leaders because of their gifting and spiritual revelations. (See 2 Cor 11-12.) We should regard leaders who have proven track records of character-based fruit in their families, in their churches, in their lives. Our question should be: how is this person’s lifestyle and example replicated in others through relational interaction? It is not relevant how charismatic of a communicator he is (2 Cor 10:10-11).

Our tendency to qualify leaders because of spiritual gifts and experiences is profoundly unbiblical and a major sickness in the charismatic world.

Let us remember the goal of Gal 6:1—to repair the broken person, not rush him back into any kind of leadership. Perhaps after some time of proven, humble, fruit-bearing life, the truly restored person can be placed back into leadership.

But if that should ever be a consideration, it should only be a consideration after restoration to God, family, self, and the body of Christ—a restoration that would take a significant time to accomplish and prove… perhaps “20+ years.”

Yet MB makes no mention of this all-important restoration.

Nor have I heard any other leaders making mention of this, except to offer it now for the sake of restoring MB back into leadership! And that with no apparent sensitivity to those traumatized already. Imagine their perspective upon hearing these statements.

Pardoned ≠ Purged

MB does claim that he believed his sins were “under the blood.” But if this is true, it applies to him alone. What about the others affected by that sin, both directly and indirectly? Do they not also get the benefit of putting these sins “under the blood,” practically, within the wider church?

Scripture is quite clear on this. Individual sin must be pardoned, of course. But it must also be purged from the community. This is another reason Paul says, “restore such a person.” We need the practical, purging power of Jesus’ blood. And that depends on transparency and pure relationships.

“If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

The NT clearly calls us to purge or remove blatant, ongoing sin from our churches. This happens either by “restoring” the willing transgressor (Gal 6:1) or removing the unrepentant sinner (Matt 18:17; 1 Cor 5). Nobody has the right to put serious, destructive sins “under the blood” for his own sake, while also failing to come into the light to purge those sins for the body’s sake.

The sin must be addressed and the member fixed. If he is not willing to be restored after the prescribed attempts (Matt 18:15-20), then he must be removed from fellowship. And this has particular relevance for those called “elders” in 1 Tim 5:19. And I repeat: Scripture’s command calls for restoration to healthy spiritual life and relationships, not to leadership.

So, while MB’s publicly-stated belief that his sins were “under the blood” may apply to him personally (that is between him and God), it does not apply practically to those he mistreated nor to the rest of the church.

This is precisely why we have the passages of Scripture already cited (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5; Gal 6:1; 1 John 1:7). This is also why Gal 6:1 requires the restoration process to come through other mature saints. The healing work of the Holy Spirit must come through others.

Placing destructive sins “under the blood” for one’s own sake, while refusing to place them “under the blood” for the body’s sake through confession and restoration, is unbiblical.

And selfish.

A Relevant Footnote on Restoration

I have noticed in some restoration processes that the leader being restored often decides to forego the original plan prescribed by those called to help. Instead, he reroutes into a direction more suited to his swifter return to ministry. He then finds new leaders who will accommodate that desire. Then he gets back “on the field” or “in the saddle” with the false appearance that he was restored.

But he was not restored.

The moment the “patient” becomes one of his own “physicians”—to any degree—the Gal 6:1 process is immediately compromised at best. Or else it has been totally hijacked by the patient needing restoration. This happens often with fallen leaders who are very popular, have a manipulative or controlling character, or have built a large ministry that depends on them.

When such a hijacking occurs, it is the sign of a self-indulgent leader who is more concerned with positions of power than Christ-likeness. This kind of leader cares only to be restored to influence, not to healthy, Spirit-filled life.

Which means, by the way, he should have never qualified for leadership to begin with.

True restoration cannot take place under these conditions. The result is only a false restoration performed for optics, not for actual spiritual health. The outcome? More problems, more damage, more pain. We have seen this fake process over and over, yet we do nothing to rectify it.

Back to the Achilles

Still, no process ever occurred with MB. It appears no objective, mature believers even knew about his sins to restore him. And MB did not reach out and confess his sins to others, as Scripture commands: “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16, emphasis added).

If he had done any of this, he surely would have mentioned it in his public confession. This would have given the confession some potential credibility. Instead, such an omission from the written confession must be taken as an omission from MB’s actual narrative.

Soon after reading the public confession, I texted two brothers whom I knew to be co-leaders with MB during the early years of IHOP. Both assured me that they had not been aware of MB’s sins, and that he never underwent any kind of restoration by others.

We are left to conclude that, according to his own words, MB chose an unbiblical, private, and ineffective course of “restoration” while continuing to be a leader. Yet in his confession, he still sought to convey that he “believed” his sins were resolved and that he now sees the current exposure as “delayed loving discipline.”

But this is not accurate. And as I will discuss below, it is hard to accept that MB actually thought these things as a teacher of Scripture. Indeed, I feel personally insulted by these claims.

We cannot accept MB’s confession as an adequate statement of his own guilt, nor as an accurate claim to receiving “assurance from God” and having his sins sufficiently “dealt with.” From a biblical perspective, these statements cannot be true.

As leaders in Christ’s body, these inaccuracies and false claims should be clear to us based solely on the confession read in light of Scripture. Ideally, I believe the local elders in Kansas City should publicly recognize this for the church’s sake. In any case, I believe this truth now stares the modern church in the face.

Mike Bickle’s ministry has been illegitimate in the sight of God for at least “20+ years.”

Time for an X-ray

In fact, a public confession that implies a shocking level of duplicity and sin should be seen in retrospect as testifying to a malignancy. An unrestored, sinful church member is infectious to a church body simply if he continues to fellowship with its members (1 Cor 5). How much more if he is openly claiming extraordinary revelations, basing an entire ministry on these revelations, teaching and “equipping” others to execute this ministry, leading a large organization he designed and founded, and influencing thousands.

Everything about this ministry must now be re-evaluated.

The entire charismatic population must reckon with this disaster. The reason I am writing this essay is so those leaders in our circles, and perhaps others, can discern this bitter root that has been growing among us (Heb 12:14-16) in order to process its implications, repent for any unbiblical cultures we have created and allowed, and lead more effectively.

Lord Jesus, lead us down paths of righteousness for the sake of your name.

We must not think of this as an IHOP issue; it is a church issue. The implications extend like tentacles into the entire constitution of our charismatic culture. This includes, but is not limited to, our propensity toward:

  • The exaltation of celebrity figures who lack genuine relationships in a local church, and therefore lack accountability by a church and other leaders. (What right do they have to teach churches elsewhere while they do not participate in church life themselves?)
  • The pronounced lack of tools to detect, diagnose, and confront the abuse of power for lustful gain.
  • A definition of “church” as an attendance-oriented ministry organization and weekly event, rather than a family of mutually-loving and -submissive brothers and sisters (Eph 5:21).

Some of these issues I will address in a future essay. For now, I will focus on three implications of MB’s confession and its witness to his lack of restoration.

Three Devastating Repercussions

* First, as stated already, MB’s ministry has been illegitimate for at least “20+ years.”

A thoroughly unrestored man has been serving as a highly-commended leader in Christ’s body.

The entire span of his leadership under these circumstances was not sent from God, not anointed by God, not endorsed by God, not supported by God, and not accurately representative of God. 

By stating this, however, I do not mean to imply that everyone connected to MB’s ministry in some way was also illegitimate. Many innocent young people and some leaders came to KC to join the prayer movement and give their lives in service to the Lord’s end time plan.

God will reward them for their faithfulness and sacrifice.

Nonetheless, we must recognize that MB, unrestored as a healthy member of Christ’s body, has been illegitimate as a leader for all these years.

* Second, MB’s entire ministry has been a deception for at least “20+ years.” This is so painful to write, but this is the hand we have been dealt. It is unreasonable to believe MB was ignorant of Gal 6:1 and the other passages cited above (1 John 1:7; James 5:16), and how they should have applied to him.

MB was a prolific Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He even cited a few Scripture references in his confession.

He was certainly aware of the relevant Bible passages. Even if he were deceived to think they somehow did not apply to him, he is responsible for such self-deception. “If anyone thinks that he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself… Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap” (Gal 6:3, 7, emphasis added). See also 1 Cor 3:18 and 1 John 1:8-9.

In any case, based on his proficiency in the Bible, we must conclude that MB was aware of these passages. He was certainly responsible for them (James 3:1). This means every time he ministered, he was actively deceiving the people around him. He was hiding his sins and brokenness, and therefore he was lying as long as he continued to lead and minister.

I see no way around this conclusion. MB’s whole ministry for at least “20+ years” was a deception.

(I am aware we all need grace and no leader is perfect. We are all growing together into Christ-likeness. But it should be easy to distinguish between this fact and what I am saying in this article. Scripture qualifies leaders by virtue of a level of maturity and wholeness, proven in the context of local church relationships, that enables them to lead, despite imperfections the Spirit continues to iron out till the resurrection.)

* Third, MB’s illegitimate and deceptive ministry leadership was a sickness that was by nature contagious. This is a spiritual principle that we find, again, in the same context of our restoration passage above (Gal 6:7). We reap what we sow. And a little leaven leavens the whole lump—especially if it has been mostly unchecked for a long time.

Everything in the organization must be re-evaluated: prophetic history, ethics, past accusations, theology, methods, biblical interpretation, and public communication since this sin got exposed. We must respect the biblical principle that God is not mocked. The sowing has occurred for years. It is now being reaped. We cannot view this as isolated to the original source. After “20+ years,” leaven spreads and gets baked deeply into any group’s viscera.

Who is looking out for the spiritual health of the young people left behind? Or even of their leaders? This is a major infection, and it will not just go away. To think otherwise is to mock God.

Once MB confessed, and it became clear that there were immorality, abuse, and no restoration, it seems fitting that the leadership should have shut down the entire machine immediately with an urgent appeal for outside help. (Perhaps a plan could have been made for church members to be integrated into and helped by other local churches.) In any case, not only did this not happen, but as of this writing, there is still no outside investigation with a continued insistence that the ministry must continue.

All while many people’s spiritual health remains at stake.

This is unimaginable to me.

Jesus taught us that healthy relationships within the church relate directly to our prayer lives (Matt 5:23-24; Mark 11:22-26). In fact, he taught us to pause the prayer meeting, so to speak, if relationships were ruptured.

To keep the flame going, despite the quality of our relationships—or perhaps despite unhealthy relationships and coverups—is quite opposed to Jesus’ teaching on prayer. I believe this insistence on constant prayer despite serious rifts in ethics and relationships is an infection that must be cured, not a model to which we must sacrifice our souls.

Yes, of course consistent prayer—individually and corporately—is an urgent biblical lifestyle and practice! But the particular IHOP format is not a biblical mandate. To insist on it at the expense of relational safety and wholeness, healthy leadership, a testimony of holiness, and the actual NT mission for discipleship and church is idolatrous.

And it undercuts the essence of prayer itself.

Yet to this day, there are many who insist this “fire” on the altar must not go out. Is this commitment worth the sacrifice of people’s spiritual health? Could this commitment be part of the problem rather than the solution? Have we not taken “house” out of “house of prayer” already? Or, was the biblical view of “house” ever present?

Jesus referred to the “house of prayer” as “my house” or “my Father’s house” (Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46; John 2:16). That means the house should be a sound family—a spiritually healthy house that prays.

But we have made it into a den of thieves.

Jesus is cleansing the temple and seeking to build a different kind of house.

Our Response at Home

I believe we must take the implications of MB’s public confession to the Lord with trembling and with hope of his mercy.

For those of us in our leadership circles, I implore all of us:

  • Pray for the restoration of God’s house as evidenced in the NT. The Lord is bringing chastisement; we should respond with fear and humility, looking to our own ministries without judging others.
  • Let the NT guide our standards for qualifying leaders and setting up methods of discipleship and church planting. The OT is a treasure trove of truth and beauty. But we must use it responsibly.
  • Be wary of the ethereal sphere of celebrity preachers and popular charismatic Christianity. “All that glitters is not gold.” That does not mean we should be cynical. Online resources and big events can be great blessings. But always exercise discernment. Do not assume that popularity or influence equal truth. Jesus warned us to be careful in this regard (Matt 16:6; 24:4; Mark 4:20). Be real, and teach disciples to walk in the light.
  • Continue to pursue prophecy and the other spiritual gifts. But test everything. Cling to the good; abstain from the evil.
  • Cultivate an environment where prophecies emerge out of the soil of sound biblical teaching, wisdom, integrity, and healthy church relationships. Let us not claim the Bible merely as a symbol of authority, but as actual authority for Spirit-filled and Spirit-empowered life. May we embody the Word together, thus creating a powerful, prophetic, miraculous community of faith in Jesus’ name.
  • Do not join a leadership “country club” that requires loyalty to it over loyalty to righteousness. Let your leadership, discipleship, and church culture be Jesus-centered, unapologetically Word-based, and in the light. Fear him more than anyone and anything else. Do not hide sins that should be exposed, though always begin with discrete and gentle confrontation (Matt 18:15-20). We “cover” sins by lovingly calling for repentance and encouraging one another to walk uprightly, not by ignoring sins out of loyalty to some pastoral fraternity (Heb 3:13). This is where some leaders have recently failed us. We must rise higher.
  • Be connected to mature, godly, Jesus-centered, Spirit-filled brothers and sisters both inside and outside your ministry spheres. Be part of a team of leaders and let Jesus be the only “Lead Pastor.” That title applies to no one but him (Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 5:4), and you are all spiritual siblings (Matt 23:1-12).
  • Be intentional about submitting to one another (Eph 5:21). Make it impossible for yourself to become ingrown and dangerously private about your moral lives. Be transparent and healthily related.
  • Apply simple, clear, biblical principles for the building of an environment of love and natural but effective accountability. Build God’s house God’s way. Effective prayer, and everything else, will flow from the wisdom that builds his house (Acts 2:42).