Dear International House of Prayer in Kansas City:
Critiques come best from friends.
You are rich with potential. You have done so many things that the Church needs. You have kept the flame on the altar. You have not caved to pressure from culture spare one thing.
The Great Commission is not yet complete. The Church is full of corruption and bad teaching, which you yourselves have tried to confront over the past few years. Not every Christian enjoys the convenience of being able to rubber stamp the pulpit. The obligation placed on Christians to “attend anywhere as long as you attend” led them to leaders such as Rob Bell when nothing might have been preferable.
The young preachers, especially over the past few weeks, have been exceptionally sharp-tongued in critiquing so-called “churchless Christians”. Have you not considered that the purpose and the funding of your webstreams depend directly on the idea that there is still more work to be done? People tune into your streaming and donate to your ministry, often times, because they feel they do not have a Christian community that they can depend on for Biblical teaching and fellowship. They are praying for such community, which they feel they do not have, which they long for, and joining you in prayer and finances is part of their solution. Yet, you have given your platform to criticizing those people for being in situations they cannot leave, which they did not ask for. Did your fundraising committee advise you to insult so many of your own donors over the very reason they donate?
There are many people who have left Christian fellowship for less-than-adequate reasons. But your calling in ministry is not to speak ill of those people, even in truth. Follow Michael’s example and allow the Lord to rebuke them.
As for the rest, few of them will speak up.
I have confronted local church leaders about the silent, swelling discontent before. The leaders could not see the disgruntled masses in the approaching exodus. My own estimates were wrong in those times—those who eventually left were much greater in number than I first anticipated. Please do not make the repeat error of Pharaoh I have seen many times before—to think that the masses hidden by the cloud are not there just because you can’t see them.
I remember speaking to an elderly man who had founded renowned Christian ministries, which will remain nameless. In my lifetime, he started two local churches and two kids camps and all ministries thrived during his tenure. In 2005, I asked him about the prayer movement and what he thought about God transforming the local church to center on prayer. “It’s not possible,” he said. Then his wife looked at him and spoke his name. He looked back at me and said, “But God could do it. God would put a discontent—a void—in their hearts first, a hunger for the new thing God will do. That’s how He always does it.”
How can you explain the massive numbers of people who have become interested in your public ministry? Do you think that they are able to not be accused of being “churchless Christians”? Why have you suddenly started on this topic, deviating from decades of teaching, when you focused on local unity, enduring reproach, and the universality of the Church? The numbers of your webstream and your donations are the research statistics you need, proving that phrases like “make sure you join a church” cannot apply to this generation so simply as it has in the past. Yet, your preachers have spoken about Sunday attendance so simply, as if nothing is different from 50 years ago when you yourselves have claimed prophecy that things will be anything but the same.
How many are there? My guess ranges in the tens of thousands. Barna has documented more than that. But the Lord tells me that you have insulted millions who have painfully followed His leading into seasons of reproach, which the comfortable Establishment will always scorn, merely for being different. Few of their decisions were made lightly and without tears.
When you address Christians who do not attend traditional weekly fellowship, you need to use more care than you have in recent months. Don’t speak ill of them, allow God to make any reproachful remarks that need to be made. Do not belittle or negatively implicate people in situations that you may think you understand, but are not directly familiar with.
If non-Sunday morning Christianity is a problem, then minister to people with love without prerequisite. Speak truth, but not ill. Let the Lord who rebukes devils rebuke His children—your brothers and sisters. And rein in your younger teachers, drop the witch hunts, and give the microphone over to those who have been tested and proven love for their enemies and who do not despise their own brothers and sisters.
And to all those who have been insulted by the younger teachers at IHOPKC concerning Sunday morning fellowships—for those who have painfully and tearfully broken away, not being fortunate enough to have reliable teaching from your nearby pulpits—I pray and trust that God will bring you the fellowship you need and that you can find the strength to look past accusation from those who may become less critical when they become grandparents.
Here is the video providing the critique that should only be given by one who loves you at least as much as I do. If you contact me and promise me that you have searched your hearts and changed, I will remove this video and this post…