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

Prophetic_PresbyteryToday 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 at 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)

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)

The Practice of 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.


Notes:

[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 and team, see the David McCracken Ministries website.

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


Related Posts:

How to Make the Most of Your Personal Prophecy

The Power of Prophetic Accountability

Personal Prophecies About Future Events

Is Personal Prophecy Biblical?


Do you have any testimonies, insights or questions on the topic of prophetic presbytery? I would love to hear from you. Leave a note in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.


© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

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

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9 thoughts on “Prophetic Presbytery: What Is It And How Does It Work?

  1. Gabriel

    Dear Helen,
    I just want to say thank you from the depths of my heart for this particular teaching. I came to know about this prophetic presbytery for the first time in my life through this site. I had a leading in my heart that that was exactly what God wanted me to do, I introduced it to my group and they agreed we should do it in our prophetic meeting that we normally have every Friday. yesterday we did it and it was awesome, testimonies were coming from here and there. Indeed God is such a good and loving father who loves to guide his children in all things. You aren’t wasting your time here, ride on in your good works Helen. over here in Nigeria we just want you to know you’re a gift to this world. More Grace!!!

  2. Helen Calder Post author

    That’s wonderful, Gabriel, it is a very cold winter evening here in Australia, but you have warmed our hearts. May the prophetic encouragement continue to flow! 🙂

  3. Don Maloney

    Have you seen or heard of the book “3 Free Sins” by Steve Brown? Do you agree with the concept? Thanks, Don M. 407-415-9334.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Don, thanks for the note but sorry, haven’t heard of the book, so can’t comment on it.

  4. Anna

    I actually found the information in this article very useful. I plan on attending a prophetic presbytery this Friday. I was not sure what to expect, but because of this blog I have an idea of what to expect.

    Thank you!
    Anna

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      That’s great Anna, thanks for letting me know! Every group runs presbytery in its own way, but it is good to get a sense of what it is about, and what to expect! 🙂

  5. Gail Hamilton

    I’m doing a study on Joshua 1 and wanted to know what “presbytery” meant and in so doing, I was lead to look at your site. It was very helpful and will share your link for further study with my readers in DAILY BIBLE READING CORNER.

  6. Don Herron

    Here’s a thought. As a Prophet called to the Office. I really appreciate and agree with certain prophets being recognized by the presbytery as church prophets. But it is not necessary that ALL prophets be recognized by the presbytery. For many prophets OT and NT are called by God alone. It can be Both….And….

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