The founder of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City has been asked to refrain from teaching or preaching while credible allegations of “sexual immorality” are investigated, the organization’s leadership team told followers Sunday.
During a packed service at IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church, executive director Stuart Greaves addressed the allegations against founder Mike Bickle that came to light on Friday when leaders called a special meeting to tell staff members.
Greaves told followers Sunday that “this has been an incredibly difficult week.” Then he read a statement from IHOPKC’s leadership team.
“We are heartbroken to share that we recently became aware of serious allegations of sexual immorality directed against Mike Bickle, the founder of IHOPKC,” he said. “Our leadership team takes these allegations very seriously. And we are laboring for truth, light, redemption and righteousness.”
He said the leadership team was “engaging with outside parties to assess and arbitrate these allegations.” He did not elaborate on who those parties were.
“Our priority is to love and serve the IHOPKC community during this moment,” he said. “This news is unsettling for our spiritual family as well as our entire leadership team. Please pray for all involved, including the ones who have come forward, those who have experienced trauma and for the Bickle family. We are asking for your patience as we work through this complex, very difficult situation.”
Greaves also asked followers “to refrain from using prophetic spiritual language that can be interpreted as dismissive of the pain of those who are traumatized.”
That was a reference to the “black horse,” an idea that is part of IHOPKC’s prophetic history taught by Bickle over the years. When accusations have been leveled against IHOPKC in the past, Bickle has used the concept of the “black horse” to explain them as demonic attacks.
Bickle could not reached for comment. Last weekend, the focus of his sermon was on false accusations.
Greaves, pausing to keep his composure, said the leadership team asked Bickle on Thursday “to not preach or teach from the IHOPKC platform, attend our 24-hour prayer room or engage his social media channels while we work with others to assess this situation.”
“As difficult as this is for so many, we are trusting Jesus to wise and good leadership to help and strengthen us as we anchor our hope in Him,” he said.
The statement did not say whether IHOPKC had reported the allegations to police.
On Saturday, Sgt. Jacob Becchina, Kansas City police spokesman, told The Star that “if a person is not charged with a crime, their name associated with that investigation would not be public…”
Isaac Bennett, lead pastor at Forerunner Church, told those attending Sunday’s service that “we are extremely heartbroken for everyone that is involved, not just those that are directly involved in the situation, allegations, but for you, for our spiritual family that’s here that has given their lives to this place.”
He said he was “personally distressed by the nature of these allegations and where we find ourselves in the midst of this.”
Then he urged those who have experienced “past things that resemble the allegations that Stuart just read” to seek out an IHOPKC leader or counselor. None of the leaders said to contact police.
“We want to acknowledge that how information like this can be affecting you,” he said. “And we want to urge you to come to a leader, to go to a counselor, to come to a pastor, especially those that have maybe never disclosed former traumatic events that are of this nature.
“But we want you to know that we are here, we are present. We are wanting to hear the things that are coming up in your hearts. And so please, please reach out to a leader, reach out to a pastor here at Forerunner Church or across the missions base.”
David Sliker, a member of IHOPKC’s leadership team, called the situation “unimaginable.”
“Never imagined we would be on this platform saying these things, as you never imagined you’d be in those chairs hearing these things. It is understandably confusing and difficult,” he said.
He asked followers for patience.
“We are not going to be secretive,” he said. “But we are going to be as careful as we can be to stay in step with the leadership of Jesus, as we understand it from the word. And so in that, again, I appeal, be patient. We found out about these things very recently. And we are moving as we can.”
Founded by Bickle in 1999, IHOPKC is a 24/7 evangelical and missions organization. With its world headquarters on Red Bridge Road in south Kansas City, IHOPKC draws people from around the world to its university and round-the-clock “prayer room.” For years, it has come under criticism by ex-staffers and former followers who accuse it of being cult-like.
On Saturday, three former IHOPKC leaders issued a statement saying the allegations involved sexual abuse by Bickle.
“A few days ago, we made the leadership team of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC) aware of serious allegations spanning several decades concerning its founder, Mike Bickle,” the statement said, adding that they found “these allegations of clergy sexual abuse by Mike Bickle to be credible and long-standing.”
The statement was issued by Dwayne Roberts and Brian Kim, former members of the IHOPKC executive leadership team, and Wes Martin, former pastor of Forerunner Christian Fellowship and former vice president of student affairs of IHOPU. Roberts was a founding member of IHOPKC and was in leadership there for 14 years before leaving to start the Florianópolis House of Prayer (FHOP) in the Brazilian nation.
The men said that prior to meeting with IHOPKC leadership, they tried to bring the allegations and testimony of one alleged victim to Bickle.
“However, we were repeatedly rebuffed by Mike Bickle and we were refused any sort of meeting,” the statement said. “Instead, Mike used manipulating and intimidating tactics towards the victims to isolate them and discredit them.”
They said they met with several members of IHOPKC’s executive leadership team and shared testimonies of “these victims of Mike’s inappropriate words and actions.”
“When these allegations were brought to our attention, we were shocked,” the statement said. “We could never have imagined that inappropriate conduct with women as something we would ever need to be concerned about. The allegations seemed out of character to the man we thought we knew, but they were so serious we could not ignore them.”
The men said they believed Bickle’s actions “were not above reproach and fall short of biblical standards for leaders in the church.”
“To be clear, the allegations made about Mike Bickle’s misconduct were sexual in nature where the marriage covenant was not honored,” the statement said. “Furthermore, the allegations made also reveal that Mike Bickle used his position of spiritual authority over the victims to manipulate them.”