Editor's note: This is part 2 of a two-part series. For part 1, click here: "Facebook Prophets: 5 Reasons Pastors Won't Let You Prophesy in Church."
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 whom 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.
Yesterday, I gave five reasons pastors don't let certain self-appointed prophets prophesy to their churches. Today, I give you five more:
6. A poor track record. It 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.
7. Manipulation. This 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.
8. Dominating the service. "There 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 are 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 almost 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.
Closely 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 incredibly manipulative, supernatural and extremely evil power behind their words. They can destroy a church overnight, and they cannot be tolerated.
10. You are needy. You have identity issues. People 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
1. Equipping. A 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.
"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies" (1 Thess. 5:19-20).
2. An outlet. People 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 from 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.
"How is it then, brothers? When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, and an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Cor. 14:26).
3. Feedback. Prophetic 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.
4. No favoritism. First things first. It's OK 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.
5. A right response. Prophetic people don't simply want to share a legitimate word from God. They are excited about the shift in the atmosphere it will bring. Too often, pastors want to grab the reins 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.
6. Encouragement. Everybody 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, their devotion to humility, 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.
7. Validation. There 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.
A 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.
Prophetic people should encourage their pastor. They should have a right response to leadership.
However, let's 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.
John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 25 years and is a sought out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. John has authored ten books, is a regular contributor to Charisma Magazine, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. A large and growing library of audio and video teachings, articles, books and other resources can be found on his website at www.burton.tv. John, his wife Amy and their five children live in Branson, Missouri.
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