You will be the next pastor of this church," whispered a woman who presented herself as a prophetess in our congregation. At the time, I served as an executive pastor in a megachurch that had 21 full-time pastors on staff. I neither sought for nor desired such a position.
Assuring the woman that the word she had was not confirmed by the Spirit's witness in me, I dismissed her promptly. However, in my "kindness" and "politeness," I failed to rebuke, correct and silence her. So she was not dissuaded.
She proceeded to prophesy her false word to anyone who would listen in her prayer group of intercessors and in the home group she attended. Word came back to me of her utterance through the senior pastor himself! Aaugh!
That experience taught me personally much about some of the pain that false prophecy can inflict. Through the years, I have heard various horror stories of people leaving homes and losing fortunes as the result of misguided prophetic words.
On the other hand, I have personally been blessed and known others to be blessed through accurate prophetic words. I take seriously Paul's admonition, "Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good" (1 Thess. 5:20-21, NLT).
It is interesting to me that when a prophet is scheduled to minister at various churches, large crowds show up hoping to get a "word" from the reputed seer. Some apparently seek words at church in much the same way people call psychic hotlines. I would hope that they would become very excited about getting into the Word instead of just getting a word. Prophetic ministry has an important place in the church's ministry (see 1 Cor. 14). However, there has been too much practicing of the gift without enough instruction and equipping.
As pastors, we have a responsibility to train and equip our congregations in the biblical operation and responsibility of spiritual giftings. The responsibility for preventing any abuse of the gifts, including prophecy, lies primarily at our feet.
We must teach, equip, correct and instruct believers in scriptural ways to exercise prophecy. And we must be willing to correct and rebuke the misuse of gifts.
In this issue of Ministries Today, we have addressed some of the critical questions surrounding the prophetic. I invite you to read the responses from Cindy Jacobs, Bill Hamon, Ted Haggard, Mike Bickle and Juanita Bynum carefully. Refuse to allow the prophetic to become the psychic in your church.