The International House of Prayer in Kansas City announced that founder Mike Bickle has been accused of clergy sexual abuse by former leaders in the movement. Leaders of IHOP announced on Sunday that Bickle has been asked not to teach or preach, take part in the group’s 24/7 prayer room or engage in social media as they look into the allegations.
“A few days ago, we made the leadership team of IHOPKC aware of serious allegations spanning several decades concerning its founder, Mike Bickle,” according to a statement from former IHOP leaders Dwayne Roberts and Brian Kimm, along with Wes Martin, the former pastor of Forerunner Christian Fellowship, which has close ties to IHOP. “Without going into details to protect the privacy of the victims’ identities, we have found these allegations of clergy sexual abuse by Mike Bickle to be credible and longstanding. The credibility of these allegations is not based on any one experience or any one victim but on the collective and corroborating testimony of the experiences of several victims.”
Bickle is one of the most influential charismatic Christians in the United States and a leading figure in the so-called New Apostolic Reformation, which seeks to make prophecy and the leadership of apostles a major part of modern evangelical practice. A former pastor in the Vineyard church movement, Bickle led his Kansas City-based congregation to break away from that denomination in the 1990s after conflicts with other leaders.
The IHOP movement, based in Grandview, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City, inspired churches around the country from a wide range of denominations, to set up 247 rooms. IHOP has about 2,000 volunteer “intercessory missionaries” who raise their own financial support, according to the group’s website.
News of the alleged sexual abuse came less than a week after Bickle preached a sermon warning about the dangers of false allegations.
“We are heartbroken to share that we have recently become aware of serious allegations including sexual immorality directed against Mike Bickle, the founder of IHOPKC,” the leader said in a statement at a Forerunner church service and later posted on Twitter. “Our leadership team takes allegations very seriously and we are laboring for truth, light, redemption, and righteousness.”
Leaders also held a meeting with Forerunner staff about the allegations. A recording of a meeting between IHOP leaders and church staff was posted online.
According to that record, leaders asked for patience as they investigate the allegations. They also told staff members to avoid using the term “black horse.” Bickle had used the term in the past to talk about false allegations against church leaders.
“We are not going to be secretive,” David Sliker, an IHOP leader, told worshipers on Sunday. “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.”
Martin, Kimm and Roberts did not give the names of the women who reported allegations against Bickle but described those women as “credible, trustworthy and courageous.”
“To be clear,” they wrote, “the allegations made about Mike Bickle’s misconduct were sexual in nature where the marriage covenant was not honored. Furthermore, the allegations made also reveal that Mike Bickle used his position of spiritual authority over the victims to manipulate them.”