Prophetic Presbytery: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Today I would like to share with you some thoughts on prophetic presbytery: what it is, a Biblical reference to it, and some guidelines that we use for prophetic presbytery in our own team.

About 16 years ago, I was an attendee atProphetic Presbytery a leadership training course run by our Senior Pastor. (We lived in New Zealand at the time) At the end of the course, an evening was set aside for prophetic presbytery.

Our Pastor invited a small team of prophetic ministers in, led by a recognised Prophet in our church movement, to minister to the graduates in personal prophecy, one by one.

When it came to my turn, the prophetic team foresaw the prophetic ministry in churches that God has called me to do today—even though at that time, my chief vocation was as a Mum caring for my young children, and my ministry in the Church was in the areas of worship and intercession.

That night, I left the prophetic presbytery feeling encouraged by God and affirmed in my calling. I immediately wrote out the words and have kept them to this day.

What is a Prophetic Presbytery?

Prophetic presbytery occurs when a time and place is set aside for two or more ministers with a gift of prophecy to bring prophetic insights and encouragement from God to an individual or group of people.

The word ‘presbytery’ refers to a group of ministers. Paul is recalling a prophetic presbytery when he says to Timothy:
‘Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.’ (1 Tim 4:14, NIV)

How a Prophetic Presbytery Works

We see several key elements in Paul’s snapshot of a prophetic presbytery: [1]

1. The Ministers

The Greek word for ‘body of elders’ is presbyterion. Those who ministered to Timothy were recognised as leaders in the church.

2. Impartation

The prophetic ministry to Timothy was accompanied by laying on of hands and an impartation of spiritual gifting (Greek charisma) took place.

3. Prophecy

Personal prophecy was given to Timothy. The Greek word for prophecy is propheteia, meaning ‘to declare the purpose of God.’

4. Stewardship.

Paul charged Timothy with the responsibility to keep the prophecies in mind, as well as to steward and look after the gifts in his life.

As Timothy’s leader, Paul was keeping him accountable for the prophetic words. ‘Do not neglect your gift’—the Greek word for neglect, ameleo, means ‘be careless of.’

Earlier in his letter to Timothy Paul says, ‘Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well.’ (1 Timothy 1:18)

Our Guidelines for Prophetic Presbytery

There are a variety of ways that a prophetic presbytery can be conducted.

By way of example, following are some general guidelines we use as a ministry team, when we are called upon to minister in a prophetic presbytery setting: [2]

  • Attendees are at the prophetic presbytery by invitation of the senior minister or ministry leader and the prophetic ministry itself is ‘closed’ to invitees only (others may be there to support or observe)
  • The occasion has a clear purpose—it may be commissioning or ordination, but it also may also be for empowerment and encouragement.
  • The prophetic presbytery is under the observance of (and attended by) leadership.
  • We ensure that those receiving personal prophecies are aware of the need to weigh up personal prophecies and submit them to oversight. We also recommend recording prophecies for this purpose. (1 Thess 5:19-21)
  • Where needed, we also give some general direction concerning the nature of prophecy, personal responsibility, and how to make the most of a personal prophecy. [3]
  • The nature of the prophetic presbytery is one of edification, exhortation and encouragement. (1 Cor 14:3)
  • We ourselves adhere to some guidelines when we are ministering prophetically. For example, if we feel strongly concerning a specific ministry role or fivefold office, we check privately with the senior minister before proceeding.
  • Those who are prophesying in a prophetic presbytery setting are mature in the prophetic gift and recognised prophetic ministers. We take more than one team member if no other prophetic minister is attending.

Sometimes we are asked to minister prophetically in a less formal setting, in a general church service or open meeting.  In that case, we do not use the term ‘Prophetic Presbytery.’ In an open or public setting where anyone can attend, we are careful to not promise that every person will be prophesied over, as we want to honour the ministry and guidance of the Holy Spirit.


[1] Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. 1996 Refs G4244 presbyterion; G5486 charisma; G4394 propheteia; G272 amele0

[2] Accountability is one of our core values, as is honouring leadership. these things are reflected in our practice of prophetic presbytery. For more information about our ministry, see our Enliven Ministries website.

[3] A permanent link to guidelines on how to respond to personal prophecy is kept on the Enliven Blog Free Resources Page.

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© Helen Calder, Enliven Blog

Enliven Ministries: in the David McCracken Ministries family