Prophetic Ministry In Church Life: 3 Non-Negotiables

I have frequently said that when it came to prophetic ministry in the church, I made every mistake in the book. Then I realised that there wasn’t a book—so I wrote one! [1]

Receiving the grace of God for my failures—and the forgiveness and restoration of my pastors—proved a major turning point in my life.

Following those early days, I went on to lead a flourishing prayer department in a local church and am now on the ministry team at David McCracken Ministries.

Today I would like to share with you 3 Biblical aspects of prophetic ministry in church life that are foundational to the prophetic training that I run today.

3 Imperatives of Prophetic Ministry in the Church

1. The Purpose of Prophetic Ministry is to Build the Church

‘…the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.’ (1 Cor 14:3-4)

The Greek word translated ‘edifies’ means to be a ‘house-builder.’ (see Strongs concordance)

If the outcome of a prophetic word or ministry is something other than edifying and building the church—for example, if it results in confusion, condemnation, division, or fear—then something is wrong. (Prov 14:1)

We always need to come back to edification as the standard and guideline for prophetic ministry in our church.

2. Prophetic Ministry Honours Leadership

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.’ (Ezra 5:2)

Ezra speaks of a time when the leaders of Judah were rebuilding the temple. Where were the prophets? Alongside them, supporting them and encouraging them to continue in the work God had given them to do.

This is a great picture of prophetic ministry in the church today.

We also honour the leaders of our church by:

  • Having a teachable and flexible attitude—being willing to adjust and change our ministry approach when necessary.
  • Speaking positively of our leaders and the church. (Prov 18:21)
  • Honouring the guidelines and protocols our leaders have established relating to sharing prophecy and other insights such as discernment in the church [2]

In the NT, prophetic ministry and intercession is not a platform to seek God in order to find out and declare what the vision of the church should be.

Rather, prophetic and intercessory ministry is a place to support in prayer and encouragement the vision that God has already given to the church leaders. Any prophetic words we bring will be recognised as confirmation—either at the time we bring them or at a later date. [3]

This is because in the NT, leaders have a relationship with God themselves, and hear Him speak in their function as leaders. This is one of the distinctions between prophetic ministry in the Old and New Testament. [4]

3. Prophetic Ministry Operates in Community

God has ordained the church community to be the place for people to grow in and express their gifts. (1 Cor 12; Eph 4)

There are no ‘lone rangers’ in New Testament prophetic ministry in the church. [5]

The Bible tells us:

  • Our gifts are given for the body, to grow the church as a whole (1 Cor 12:7-8)
  • In community, words of prophecy are given and weighed up, providing us with accountability (1 Cor 14:29)
  • No single prophetic person is going to receive the complete or ‘word perfect’ revelation of what God wants to say (1 Cor 13:9-10, 1 Cor 14:29, 1 Thess 5:20-21)
  • The church needs additional gifts such as wisdom, leadership and discernment, to fully benefit from prophetic ministry.(1 Cor 12)

Notes:

[1] This is Prophetic People In A Changing Church, which is available on the Enliven Blog e-books page.

[2] For more information on this, see my article Prophetic Ministry In Church Life: Why Have Guidelines?

[3] If you believe you have received a prophetic word that seems to be different from where the leadership is taking the church, you can still share it. It may relate to another season or may confirm something that God is already speaking to the leaders about.

However, it does change the way you share it. For example:

  • Pray about the word first. Check that it is not being influenced by personal frustrations or your own values and ideals
  • Do not speak about the word to others and do not bring it in public; instead, take it privately to your leaders to be weighed up
  • Submit and release the prophetic insight without placing any expectation upon your leaders to do anything about it

These are not rules; rather the natural outcome of having a heart that honours God, our leaders and each other.

Note that this article assumes that you are in a healthy church environment. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section per below.

[4] Many difficulties in prophetic ministry in the church today arise from a person or ministry operating in an Old Testament paradigm. (In fact someone who has an OT perspective of prophecy is likely to have difficulty with my points above)

For a review on the chief differences between Old and New Testament prophetic ministry, see my post Differences Between Old And New Testament Ministry

[5] Isolation can be tempting for those with prophetic or prayer gifts who have been hurt or misunderstood. If you can relate to this, the following article may be helpful:

Break Free Of Hurts That Are Blocking Your Prophetic Gift


© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

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7 thoughts on “Prophetic Ministry In Church Life: 3 Non-Negotiables

  1. Pennie

    We have prophetic ministry at my church that operates in teams (1 team leader and 3 or 4 team members). Team leader is a prophet and team members may be prophets or operate In the gift of prophecy. Challenge: team leader talking over team members or even finishing the prophetic words that they are speaking. Difficult to get a word in because the team leader is overspeaking or interrupting. Church leadership has set approx 3 minutes to prophesy to person per team. Leader very rarely stays within the time frame and if so, uses most of the 3 minutes themselves. What is the proper way to handle this issue?

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Pennie,
      Yes that is a difficult one, it’s the fine balance between honouring the team leader but at the same time the situation needs to be addressed.
      First approach would be to the team leader and explain how his/her behaviour makes you feel (humble approach rather than accusatory)
      If that doesn’t help, it may be appropriate to go to the church leadership…again, humble and personal approach rather than accusation.
      Alternatively, seek to be placed in another team (that doesn’t help other team members though!)
      Finally, realise that this situation, whilst incredibly frustrating, is an opportunity for character growth in prophetic ministry, too. And part of that is growing to be bold enough to speak the truth in love, humility and honesty when needed.

      1. Pennie

        Thank you so much for this advice. I have already discussed this issue with leadership. We have a time of debriefing and open dialogue after every time of prophetic ministry so it will be addressed anonymously as a point of order and protocol for future times of ministry. Thank you for this forum to openly ask sensitive questions regarding prophetic ministry. Blessings!

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