8 prominent Charismatic elders declare Mike Bickle ‘unfit’ for ministry

International House of Prayer Kansas City founder Mike Bickle.
International House of Prayer Kansas City founder Mike Bickle. | YouTube/Mike Bickle Official

Eight prominent Charismatic elders, including theologian and media personality Michael Brown, have declared embattled International House of Prayer Kansas City founder Mike Bickle "unfit" for ministry, warning that the 24/7 prayer ministry has some "dangerous cult-like tendencies" that need to be addressed.

In a joint statement published Thursday on the website of his syndicated "Line of Fire" radio program, Brown, along with elders in the Charismatic movement — Jack DeereDan JusterPatricia KingJoseph MatteraSam StormsMichael Sullivant, and Terri Sullivant — declared Bickle "unfit" for public ministry.

They cited mounting evidence, including reports and public testimony of Bickle's clergy sexual abuse. Those testimonies include Tammy Woods, who alleged last month that Bickle groomed and sexually abused her in the 1980s when she was just 14.

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"First, we are deeply grieved for those who have presented testimony that they were manipulated and sexually abused by Mike Bickle. We can think of few sins more damaging and destructive than that of manipulative, clergy sexual abuse, all the more in the case of a minor," the elders wrote.

"We are also deeply grieved for those whose personal faith has been shattered and whose worlds have been turned upside down because of the alleged agonizing events. This is a spiritual tragedy of international proportions, affecting millions of believers worldwide and bringing great dishonor to the name of Jesus as well as disgrace to the reputation of the Spirit," they added.

"After considering the reports we have reviewed, we must state categorically that he is, sadly, unfit to lead a ministry. Even with full repentance and personal restoration in the Lord, he is disqualified from public ministry. (Restoration to full fellowship is of course possible.) Mike himself, in his statement of December 12, 2023, acknowledged that his stepping down from ministry 'may be long and it may even be permanent,' and that was before the most serious charges against him had even been raised."

Mere hours before Tammy Woods alleged in an interview with The Kansas City Star that Bickle abused her in the 1980s when she was just 14, her former pastor allegedly sought her advice amid mounting abuse allegations from multiple women.

In posts highlighted on both X and Facebook, former IHOPKC staffer Ben Anderson shared a copy of a script Bickle was reportedly planning to use for himself and his wife, Diane, to create a video on Jan. 30.

The video would have responded to allegations that he, for example, routinely told his alleged victims that his wife would die young, suggesting that he would be able to have a future with them at some point.

Using her maiden name, Woods told The Kansas City Star that Bickle abused her in St. Louis, where he pastored a church before moving to Kansas City and starting IHOPKC in 1999.

Woods said Bickle abused her in his car, at her home, in the church and his office. She said the abuse, which began when she started babysitting his two sons, involved sexual contact but not intercourse.

"He would kiss my neck, he would kiss my cheeks, he would kiss my forehead," Woods was quoted as saying, recalling the first time Bickle kissed her romantically at her house when she was just 14. "The first, like, 'kiss' kiss was in my house. He kind of pulled me into my bathroom. And he kissed me like a man kisses a woman."

Woods' story emerged after an independent report was released to the public on Jan. 31 and prepared by attorney Rosalee McNamara. In that report, Bickle confessed to engaging in "consensual sexual contact" with a woman connected to the 24/7 prayer ministry in addition to a previously confessed relationship with a primary Jane Doe, who alleged she was his kept woman for several years.

Another woman, identified as "TH," also added to Bickle's alleged pattern of abusing minor girls when she told The Roys Report that Bickle began grooming and sexually abusing her when she was 15 and he was a 20-year-old church intern in the mid-1970s. TH said she is the ex-wife of self-styled "prophet" Bob Hartley of Hartley Hope Ministries, who was recently banned from IHOPKC's 24/7 prayer room after he was accused of sexual assault and a pattern of predatory behavior impacting multiple alleged female victims. 

"We say this with agony of heart, as Mike has been a dear friend to some of us and a respected co-worker for years, and it is hard to believe that the man we knew was capable of leading such a double life," Thursday's statement from the Charismatic movement leaders stated. "Yet we cannot deny the evidence that spans many decades, and which continues to accumulate, some of which has been confirmed and some of which awaits a formal investigation and the adjudication of a panel of elders."

The statement noted that while there are many sincere supporters of IHOPKC, "we recognize that the evidence points to some dangerous cult-like tendencies that emerged over the years that need to be addressed and adjusted."

"There has also been a lack of a formal structure of accountability for those serving in various capacities at IHOPKC, overseen by local elders, resulting in a failure to deal properly with serious sexual sins, and not just pertaining to Mike," they said.

"We do not deny that the broad outline of the IHOPKC history was credible, but it appears that, in some ways, it has crossed over into areas of spiritual elitism. IHOPKC has also admitted that its structure was woefully deficient in handling serious sin allegations and now professes to be changing its whole structure to address this."

The leaders called for a more formal accountability structure in the larger independent Charismatic church world and hope to address it with a "united, biblically based, Spirit-led effort" over time.

"Having said this, we decry the exalting of people and personalities. There are no superstars in the Body, only servants. And no matter how much fame or public influence any of us may have, we are all utter wretches outside of God's transforming grace and there is not a single thing we can do of eternal value that has not been birthed and empowered by the Spirit. Apart from the Lord, we can do nothing, and we are nothing (John 15:5; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9)," the Christian elders wrote.

"It is one thing to give honor and respect to spiritual leaders who walk worthy of God's high calling. It is another thing to turn servants into celebrities and to look to them as if they were in a different category from the rest of the Body. This is not only dangerous, but it is another form of spiritual idolatry."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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