Why is it sometimes difficult to incorporate true prophets into a local church? There are many prophetic ministries that are not incorporated into local churches. A good example of someone getting it right is Kris Vallotton from Bethel Church. There are many reasons that most prophet ministries struggle to submit to local churches. I have tried to list a few as well as a few tips for churches to make the process easier.
The expectation of what a prophet needs to do
Many churches expect prophets to prophesy at their meetings, lead prayer meetings and participate in musical worship. They however make the mistake that prophets’ contribution is limited to this. These are simply some of the lesser benefits that a church can gain from incorporating a resident prophet. One of the more powerful features that prophets can bring is their prowess to administrate Kingdom matters, their perspective on Kingdom structure and their ability to umpire decisions.
When uninvited, these features and functions of a resident prophet can turn into a negative. It can create the perception of a power struggle and also end up being a power struggle.
Tip for pastors: Expect more from your prophets. Expect them to bring guidance that you might not agree with. Their function is to gauge and reveal. What a prophet sees is deeply personal and changes their disposition. It is not simply knowledge or an opinion. Keep this in mind as you talk through their perspectives.
Tip for pastors: Incorporate your prophets into your decision making process. Sometimes prophets function as gates to decisions and sometimes as roads. Gates means that they operate as umpires over decisions and roads means that they should help to brainstorm to come to a conclusion. Gates are open or closed. Roads represent a journey. Know when to use your various prophetic voices.
Prophets may see more than what they can influence directly
Prophets operate as agencies directly connected to God. They do not place as much importance on human methods and ideas as what they place on the word and perspective of the King. This is a strength that can manifest as a weakness. Within the correct environment this can help give direction. However for the untrained prophet this could mean that they do not always marry the needs of the sheep with the needs of the King accurately.
Tip for pastors: Keep record of the prophetic words and revelations. Use them to help make decisions. If a prophet consistently helps with direction, consider positioning them in meetings to get them to contribute more effectively. Talk to them about their perspective. Consider having a training program that can provide Biblical perspective.
Prophet ministries may reach beyond local church domains
In the case that a prophet’s mandate reaches beyond that of the local church, it might be very difficult to reconcile the different perspectives. What might be good for the prophetic mandate might be bad for the local congregation and vice versa. An example is that of a prophet that frequently needs to travel. The prophet might not be the best to use in a local setting. This is especially true if the church is not set as a resource based church that can afford to be without it’s main prophetic voice. If the church mandate and church mandate cover the same general area, the one will pave the way for the other, strengthening both the local church and the prestige they enjoy within their respective domains of service.
Tip for pastors: Sometimes it is better to reduce the duties of a prophet in the local congregation and let a “lesser” prophet fulfill it. This is especially true if the lesser can spend more time servicing the prophetic needs of the congregation.
Prophets grow, and need space
It is difficult as a parent to see how your child grows and inevitably your relationship with them as well. As a prophet grows from prophesying and praying to giving direction, umpiring and administrating the Kingdom, the relationship with the congregation and the leadership, also needs to change. Sometimes the individual needs to become part of the leadership or needs to be sent on trans-local missions more often. At other times they need to be delegated with prophetic tasks of which they can take ownership.
Tip for pastors: This is one of the most difficult aspects of the prophet’s growth. The relationship needs to be upgraded to the point where the prophet can act as an agency of the Kingdom towards the local church. Practically the pastor can 1) spend time with the prophet discussing their contribution and how helpful it is, 2) find out where the prophet sees themselves operating in the congregation, 3) establishing how the prophet can best contribute to the local church and direction of the congregation.
Pastors before prophets
The prophetic function is secondary to the pastoral function. As the prophet becomes increasingly incompatible with the local congregation, steps needs to be taken to restore or redefine the relationship and the service that the prophet provides. Before such steps is taken it is important to seek the scriptural perspective in any disagreement. The Kingdom position is one in which the feeding of the sheep by the pastor takes precedence over the prophetic function. The prophet will inevitably need to leave once the church has reached the end of its pliability or the prophet vision and that of the leadership collides. The friction in such a situation can be detrimental to the sheep. Even if the prophet is correct in his/her observations, the prophet function in a church is secondary to the pastoral function.
I hope these insights may help the local church to retain more prophets that can strengthen the local church.