The Need for Prophetic Standards in the Church
The following is the backdrop for a “Prophetic Standards Statement” that Dr. Michael Brown and I initiated, with input from dozens of prominent national charismatic leaders, in the spring of 2021. Dr. Brown wrote an article on it that has the following explanation.
“In the lead-up to the 2020 elections, Bishop Joseph Mattera and I began to discuss the need to convene a number of charismatic leaders, sensing the fallout that would come should Trump not win reelection.
The first conference call took place on Feb. 8, with about 20 leaders participating, and without names being released. That led to the drafting of a “Prophetic Standards” document, which was then submitted for discussion during a second call on March 15, involving most of the same leaders and some others who had not been part of the first call.
During that second call, the document was reviewed line by line, resulting in many changes and improvements. Then, it was sent to a number of other key charismatic leaders who were not part of either call, resulting in further sharpening of the statement.
It is, therefore, a group statement rather than that of any individual or denomination or stream or network or group.
As for the initial signers, they too represent different denominations, streams, networks and groups, including megachurch pastors, biblical scholars, theologians, evangelists, leaders of apostolic networks, recognized prophetic ministers and local church leaders.
It is our hope that this statement will both honor and encourage prophetic ministry while at the same time calling for greater accountability, since unaccountable prophecy has been a bane on the modern Pentecostal-charismatic movement for decades.”
Prophetic Standards Statement
In light of serious concerns after well-publicized, national prophecies did not come to pass, and in light of the needs of local pastors as well as individual believers to have practical guidelines for processing prophetic words, as Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders, we felt that now was the opportune time to produce this current document.
It is not the purpose of this document to condemn or accuse. Instead, the purpose of this statement is to help provide Scriptural guidelines for the operation of the gift of prophecy and the functioning of the ministry of the prophet, while at the same time affirming the importance of these gifts and ministries.
We believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of prophecy and the ministry of the prophet, are essential for the edification of the Body of Christ and the work of the ministry, which is why Scripture exhorts us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that we may prophesy (see 1 Cor. 14:1, 39). Prophetic ministry is of great importance to the Church and must be encouraged, welcomed, and nurtured.
We believe it is essential to create an environment in which prophecy can flourish, side by side with the other gifts of the Spirit and together with apostolic, evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching ministries. To create this environment, we need to encourage freedom in the Spirit in a faith-filled atmosphere, making room for spontaneous utterances as the Spirit wills. But all this must be done with proper accountability and oversight.
We believe that that the general function of the gift of prophecy, as it relates to the church, has to do with edification, exhortation, and comfort (see 1 Cor. 14:3). As this gift relates to unbelievers, it can reveal the secrets of their hearts and bring them to repentance, demonstrating God’s reality to them (see 1 Cor. 14:24-25).
We believe that the essence of the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus, hence the ultimate goal of prophetic ministry is to exalt the lordship of Jesus Christ, even though we recognize that not every prophetic word will specifically point to Him (see Rev. 19:10; 1 Cor. 12:3).
We believe in the five-fold ministry of the prophet, recognizing that such prophets will also be used to bring correction, instruction, and directional clarity to the Body, but not independent of other leaders, and therefore different from the model of the independent Old Testament prophet.
We recognize that prophets do not serve as spiritual fortune tellers or prognosticators, nor is their role to satisfy our curiosity about the future or reveal abstract information. God’s purpose in prophecy is redemptive, calling for repentance, giving supernatural guidance, bringing comfort, deliverance, and restoration, and glorifying Jesus as Lord.
We believe that prophecies should first be tested by the Word, then if the prophetic word is not contrary to the Scriptures, it should be evaluated by other mature leaders. If a prophecy is given in the context of a local church, then mature leaders in that setting should evaluate it. If a prophecy is given in the context of a region or nation, then mature regional or national leaders should be invited to evaluate the word (see 1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thes. 5:19-21). Sometimes prophetic words are submitted for evaluation before they are delivered and at other times they are evaluated after they are delivered. But in all situations, those claiming to speak for God should welcome the godly evaluation of their prophecies. Those who refuse to have their words tested should not be given a platform.
We recognize that prophets receive supernatural revelation from God, but they are also dependent on other five-fold ministry leaders for the interpretation and application of the revelations they receive. It is the Lord’s will that all these various ministry gifts, including the ministry of the prophet, work in harmony rather than independently. Only then will the Body come into full health and maturity.
We recognize the unique challenges posed by the internet and social media, as anyone claiming to be a prophet can release a word to the general public without any accountability or even responsibility. While it is not possible to stop the flood of such words online, we urge all believers to check the lives and fruit of those they follow online and also see if they are part of a local church body and have true accountability for their public ministries and personal lives. We also urge prophetic ministers posting unfiltered and untested words from the Lord to first submit those words to peer leaders for evaluation.
We agree that the Scripture instructs us not to despise prophecies but to examine prophetic utterances carefully and to hold fast to that which is good (see 1 Thess. 5:19-21). This also means that we should cultivate honor and respect for true prophetic ministries rather than an attitude of skepticism or scorn.
We believe that all spiritual leaders, including those serving as prophetic ministers, should be vetted and qualified by their respective churches, networks, or movements based on the standards of leadership set forth by Paul the apostle as found in 1 Timothy 3:1-8; Titus 1:5-9.
We believe that all spiritual leaders, including five-fold ministry prophets, should be above reproach and should live a life worthy of their calling (see Eph. 4:1-3). Consequently, we believe that prophetic leaders whose lives violate the moral and ethical standards of the Word disqualify themselves from the ministry irrespective of how much influence or anointing they have.
We also agree that the greatest requirement for all leaders in the church, including prophetic leaders, is to endeavor to reflect the character of Christ and to utilize their gifts out of love for God, His people, and the lost (see 1 Cor. 13:2; Rom. 8:29).
We value humility, integrity, and accuracy in prophetic ministry in order to protect the faith and trust of those who hear a word that is stated to be from God. It is a sacred thing to claim to speak for the Lord and, in keeping with the words of Jesus, to whom much is given, much is required (see Luke 12:48). And just as those who teach are held to a higher standard of accountability (see Jam. 3:1), so also those who prophesy should be held to a higher standard. They can have a powerful influence over people’s lives for better or worse, because of which we urge sobriety and circumspection together with faith and boldness.
We understand that prophecies can be conditional and that many prophecies will take time to come to pass. We also recognize that prophetic language is often mysterious and symbolic, requiring interpretation and insight. This means that prophecies that do not contradict the Bible or that are not contrary to fact should be evaluated over time and not immediately rejected.
On the other hand, if a prophetic word is delivered containing specific details and dates in which the stated prophetic word will come to pass and that prophecy contains no conditions to be met in order to be fulfilled, and that word does not come to pass as prophesied, the one who delivered the word must be willing to take full responsibility, demonstrating genuine contrition before God and people. Any statement of apology should be delivered to the audience to whom the erroneous word was given. For example, if it was given to an individual, the apology should be delivered to the individual. However, if the word was delivered publicly, then a public apology should be presented. This is not meant to be a punishment, but rather a mature act of love to protect the honor of the Lord, the integrity of prophetic ministry, and the faith of those to whom the word was given.
We believe it is essential that all spiritual leaders, including prophetic leaders, have a presbytery of peers and seasoned spiritual leaders who can hold them accountable regarding their life and ministry. In keeping with this, we reject the notion that to judge a prophet’s words is a violation of Psalm 105:15, where God exhorted the ancient nations not to touch the patriarchs or harm his prophets. Prophets who err must be willing to receive correction from peer leaders with whom they are in accountable relationship. Those refusing such accountability should not be welcomed for ministry.
We recognize that true prophetic words can be faith-building and can sometimes call for a faith-filled response, but we reject the idea that prophets can use Old Testament texts about believing the prophets in order to gain blanket support for their words, as if everything a prophet utters today must be believed. To the contrary, we can only believe the prophetic word if it is not contrary to Scripture, it is not factually in error, and our own spirits bear witness with it. Only then can we add our faith to that word coming to pass.
Those wanting to use Old Testament prophetic texts to exercise influence or authority over their followers should remember that inaccurate prophecy under that same Old Testament standard was punishable by death. New Testament prophets, along with other New Testament ministry leaders, do not lord it over their people or demand submission and faith. Instead, in humility, they serve the flock (see 1 Pet. 5:1-4).
We reject any threatening words from prophets today, warning their followers that judgment will fall on them if they fail to obey the prophet’s words. We see this as a dangerous form of spiritual manipulation.
We reject the spiritual manipulation of the prophetic gift for the personal benefit of the prophet or his or ministry, whether to garner favor, power, or financial gain. And under no circumstances can a prophet charge money to deliver a prophetic word. This is spiritual abuse of the worst kind and is detestable in God’s sight.
We reject the notion that a contemporary prophetic word is on the same level of inspiration or authority as Scripture or that God always speaks inerrantly through prophets today, since the Bible says we only know in part and prophesy in part (see 1 Cor. 13:9). It is the written Word alone that can lay claim to being “the Word of God” (see 2 Tim. 3:16); prophecies, at best, are “a word from the Lord,” to be tested by the Word of God.
Finally, while we believe in holding prophets accountable for their words, in accordance with the Scriptures, we do not believe that a sincere prophet who delivers an inaccurate message is therefore a false prophet. Instead, as Jesus explained, and as the Old Testament emphasized, false prophets are wolves in sheep’s clothing, in contrast to true believers who might speak inaccurately (see Matt. 7:15-20; Jer. 23:9-40; Ezek. 13:23). Thus, a false prophet is someone who operates under a false spirit masquerading as the Holy Spirit.
We therefore recognize distinctions between a believer who gives an inaccurate prophecy (in which case they should acknowledge their error), a believer who consistently prophesies inaccurately (in which case we recognize that this person is not a prophet and we urge them to stop prophesying), and a false prophet (whom we recognize as a false believer, a lost soul, calling them to repent and be saved). Because God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable (see Rom. 11:29), we understand that a person who has been prophetically gifted might be able to function in that gifting even though they are no longer in right relationship with God. That is why it is imperative that we judge a prophet by the fruit of their life and ministry rather than by their gift, also recognizing that there are some who started right but will be rejected in the end (see Matt. 7:21-23).
Original Prophetic Standards Statement Signers
Aaron J. Robinson (M.Div., PhD Candidate)
Alan Hirsch, 100 Movements
Apostle John Kelly, International Convener for ICAL
Archbishop William Mikler, Communio Christiana
Barbara Wentroble (International Breakthrough Ministries )
Bishop Dale Bronner (Theology Doctorate)
Bishop Joseph Adefarasin, Guiding Light Assembly- Lagos, Nigeria
Bishop Joseph Mattera (D.Min., Th.D)
Bishop Julia Whitehurst Wade, Founder of Perfecting Covenant Prevailing Connection
Bishop Kyle Searcy, Fresh Anointing House of Worship, Montgomery, Alabama
Bishop Reford Mott (M.Div., D.Min.), Generations Church, New Rochelle, NY
Bishop Richard Calahan (D.Min.), D.D. President of Maranatha Ministerial Fellowship, Intl.
Bishop Tommy Reid, Niagara Falls Church Network
Chris E.W. Green (PhD)
Chris Palmer (MTS and PhD Candidate)
David Balestri, Executive Consultant of Elite Human Development, Australia
Dennis Peacoke, Go Strategic and The Statesmen Project
Doug Stringer, CEO, Somebody Cares
Dr Craig Keener (PhD)
Dr Roberto Miranda (PhD), President of New England Alliance; Congregación León de Judá/Congregation Lion of Judah. D.D.
Dr. Al Warner (D.Min.), Executive Director, Set Free Inc.
Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns (PhD)
Dr. Dan Hammer (D.Min.), Founder Son Rise Christian Church
Dr. Daniel Juster (Th.D), Tikkum Ministries, Israel
Dr. Edgar González (J.D., D.Min.), President, Global Impact Ministries
Dr. Greg Williamson, Valley Christian Center
Dr. Israel Pena (PhD), Senior Pastor, The FLOW Kingdom Ministries
Dr. Larry Stockstill, Director of Pastors University
Dr. Mark Chironna (D.Min., PhD Candidate)
Dr. Mark Kauffman, International Network of Kingdom Leaders
Dr. Mark Rutland ( Global Servants)
Dr. Mark T. Barclay (PhD), Rev., Mark Barclay Ministries
Dr. Marsha Wood (D.Min., M.A.), Overseer of His Tapestry International Ministries
Dr. Michael Brown (PhD)
Dr. Negiel Bigpond, Two Rivers Native American Training Center President/Founder
Dr. Paul VanValin (PhD), Founder, Eden Counseling and Consulting
Dr. R. Heard, Founder of Numerous International Schools
Dr. Randy Clark (D., D.Min., Th.D., M.Div., B.S. Religious Studies), Overseer of the Apostolic Network of Global Awakening, President of Global Awakening Theological Seminary
Dr. Ronald V. Burgio (D.Min.), Vice President Elim Fellowship
Dr. Sam Storms (PhD)
Dr. Sy Govender (MD), ABC Ministries South Africa
Dr. Wayne Grudem (PhD), Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies
Evangelist Daniel Kolenda, President and CEO of Christ for All Nations
Fred Markert, Founder, The Great Awakening Project
George Runyan, City Church Ministries
Giselle Bonilla, Prophetic GPS
Jennifer LeClaire, Founder, Awakening House of Prayer Global Movement
Jeremiah Johnson (Jeremiah Johnson Ministries.)
Dr Jim Garlow (PHD, Well Versed ministry)
John Burton, Popular Author, Bible Teacher, Revivalist
Pastor Jim Graff, (Lead Pastor-Faith Family Church, President- Significant Church Network)
Tom Lane (apostolic senior pastor of Gateway church network)
Joshua Kennedy (Apostolic leader of Praise Tabernacle)
Jonathan Tremaine Thomas (President, civil righteousness)
Ken Fish (D.Min. Candidate), Founder Orbis Ministries
Kris Valloton, Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church, Co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) and Moral Revolution
Lee Grady(The Mordecai Project)
Mark Aarstad (M.Div., PhD Candidate)
Mark Driscoll, Founding Senior Pastor the Trinity Church and Real Faith Ministry
Michael Wells, Apostolic Leader of C.A.M Leadership Network
Niko Peele, Ignite Movement Network
Pastor Bojan Jancic ( CityLight church)
Pastor Gary Hartley ( Resurrection church)
Pastor Charles Flowers, Sr. Pastor, Faith Outreach Center, International/CEO, San Antonio in Black, White and Brown
Pastor Darrian Summerville, City Servants Church
Pastor Don Nordin, CT Church Houston Texas
Pastor Joel Stockstill, Director, Surge Project
Pastor Les Bowling
Pastor Marc Estes, Senior Pastor, MannaHouse; President, Portland Bible College
Pastor Mark Pfeifer, Open Door Church, Soma Family of Ministries
Pastor Mike Servello, Compassion Coalition Founder and CEO Redeemer Church, Utica, NY
Pastor Richy Clark, Freedom Church, Magnolia, TX
Robert morris (Pastor /Gateway church)
Pastor Steve Riggle (MA. D.Min.), Founding Pastor Grace Church; President, Grace International Churches and Ministries
Pastor Vince Thomas, Jr. (M.A.) The Outlet Community Church, Atlanta, GA
R.T. Kendall (D.Phil.)
Robert Gay ( High Praise worship center)
Ron Cantor (CEO of Tikkun International and regional director of God TV Israel)
Steve Trullinger (PhD), Director, Fathers Touch Ministry
Steven Strang, CEO of Charisma Media
Shane Idleman (Lead Pastor, Westside Christian Fellowship/Founder, WCF Radio Network )
Thamo Naidoo, International leader of The Global Gate Family, South Africa
Ward Simpson, CEO of God TV
Wesley and Stacey Cambell ( Shiloh Global)
Will Ford, Former Chair of Marketplace Major at Christ For the Nations Institute
To view an updated list of signers , list your name as a signer or to download the document go to: https://propheticstandards.com/