Prophetic Momentum

Jon Cressey writing mostly about church, prophets and prophecy...

Context

Context
I thought it might be worthwhile to provide some context about what I am trying to achieve on this website.

I’m keen to introduce a Scripture-honouring approach to the prophetic ministry. Prophets are like finding hedgehogs in your garden. Feed them, care for them, look after them. Sometimes, you will stumble across two of them. When you find three, well, something unique is happening.

We all grow in our relationship with God through the lifelong process of discipleship: learning about God, His ways, our ways, our temptations, pitfalls, weaknesses, and what to do when we encounter trouble. The issues we grapple with in growth, faith, worship, and the knowledge of God are not exclusive to any set of individuals, and that includes prophetic people. The work of the Cross transforms all our lives in the same dynamic way, with the same grace-rich transformational regeneration.

We are imaginative people, gifted and empowered by God for good works, worship, and evangelism, and we have an infinite capacity to enjoy God. However, none of us are perfect, nor do we expect to be this side of eternity, and that includes our lifetime-restricted ministries. This applies to prophets as well.

Finding Their Feet

There are careful and useful mentoring approaches to prophetic ministry that can help prophets better understand their calling without feeling pigeon-holed or stereotyped. These approaches also deter them from becoming unwittingly attention-seeking and egotistical about their role, gift, or function. (It happens; titles can do strange things to some people.)

While every member of the church is called to exercise the prophetic gift, whether in encouragement, exhortation, or comfort, some (by God’s call and enabling) develop the innate ability to discern the Spirit’s leading and prompting. The Bible calls them prophets. It is a servant role rather than a grand destination, much like the apostle. Taking such a stance on character issues (i.e., the ability to serve the church) ensures that we never find the prophets (or the apostles) condescending, controlling, or, more importantly, legalistic; they always point us to Jesus in grace and mercy.

I use the term ‘prophet’ often on this website, so it necessitates some clarity. While we need to avoid getting caught up with titles (the prophet is a noun associated with the verb), I am referring to those who regularly exercise the gift, have grown in maturity and accuracy in their use of this gift, and, more importantly, are recognised by the church as having some form of prophetic ministry. One of the things I learned about the prophetic ministry early in my life is the idea, ‘you can’t turn it on and you can’t turn it off’. God speaks, leads, and reveals when and as He wants. It’s not there on demand, as some may suggest. I like the idea with the prophetic ministry that you speak when spoken to—but we should never expect that of God; sometimes He is silent. That silence is not denial—it’s just silence. God will say what He will, and at His discretion.

John Paul Jackson once told me about people’s quest for identity as “a prophet”; there is a good chance that if someone comes into your church dressed as a soldier, looks like a soldier, and stands like a soldier, they are a soldier. No matter how strongly they state they are not a soldier, you will not be convinced. Similarly, with the prophetic ministry, you can spot the gift a mile away!

Prophets are not going to be perfect either! Prophetic people are not going to be the best prophet that ever was. We must go with the gift we have been given and not flatter ourselves. As we grow in God, we need to readily acknowledge the gifts in others. Some are called to teach, to evangelise, and others to prophesy.

Leading Prophets

For emerging prophets, such a calling is initiated by God, not just because the individual has wanted, volunteered, or stepped out in the prophetic gift, although that is a good starting point. The process of maturity is helped by godly leaders. In the local church, leading prophetic people can be like herding cats, but with a little patience, it is possible, and the fruit is well worth the effort. The Church is prophetic by nature, but it needs nurture, much like when Jesus comes and prunes the vine that is fruitful and also prunes the one that is unfruitful.

All of what we talk about here requires faith, especially for those starting to step out in prophetic ministry in any form. And it continues that way. We also don’t want to be on either extreme of being hamstrung by caution or compromised by presumption. We can take a step of faith, but when it comes to the things of God, we don’t want to blindly follow or go into things presumptuously without being fully aware. If we know what we’re getting into, what we’re hoping for, and what could happen as a result, then maybe we can be stirred to take that first step. But it will be a gradual process—little by little, step by step. All that we place our trust in is found in and as a result of God’s words in the Bible—taken in context, of course!

It takes a lot of trust to mature in the things we discuss here. Helping prophetic people grow and develop their ministry requires thoughtful, creative leadership skills. In times of difficulty where prophetic people feel misunderstood or disregarded, particularly in immaturity, they can be prone to wander, but they should be encouraged to face their issues and stay rooted and faithful in the place God called them. This perseverance itself is something that brings credibility and maturity as they learn to walk in accountability.

Finding Their Potential

I would encourage leaders of prophetic people, in whatever capacity they come, to establish the best possible environment for prophetic teams to grow and develop both in their understanding of prophetic ministry and in their commitment and place in the life, struggles, and aspirations of the local church. It is to our benefit to cultivate the gifts that God places in our midst and proactively seek to help them flourish, recognising limitations and calling for help from other leaders for wisdom and advice.

In extreme cases, although it may happen to you, some churches have prophetic individuals who see visions regularly, have two to three dreams a night, see angels, or hear the audible voice of God. All of these will need serious thought and attention as they interact with church leadership.

You will not always have the answers to the perplexity that prophetic ministries can bring, but certainly, help is available. Most of the leaders in the New Frontiers family of churches will give you sound, helpful, and encouraging advice and are only a phone call away.

Don’t hesitate or implode over the possibilities—God can do anything, and He usually chooses to do so through people. As they grow in wisdom and maturity, prophets know the secrets of the Lord. Sometimes they know when to share or what to share, and other times they need some advice from you.

Unleashing the Prophetic Initiative

I want to help the church receive the ministry of prophetic people, fostering the understanding that there is no need for gimmicks—they are the real thing. In the challenging days we live in, we must endeavour across the entire church to ensure that we encourage, develop, and release (or unleash) all the potential our people have.

So, on this website, in various places are a few useful guidelines towards encouraging, engaging, and developing prophetic people who may be emerging in your church.

Whilst everyone is different and has their own quirks and foibles, it is useful to have a small team mentality so that you can be inclusive and help embed those who are new to the vision and values of your church. It is also good to encourage a corporate view of the prophetic rather than allowing isolation, fostering a more corporate experience as individuals learn and grow in their gifting. The church always needs to appreciate, understand, and value the prophetic ministry in their midst.

Alongside apostolic ministry, the encouragement of prophetic ministry is seismic. Careful, intentional leadership hand-holds prophetic people, guiding them as they begin to unleash their full potential, restoring hope in the heart of the believer through authentic, Scripture-honouring prophetic ministry.

Context
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