7 Ways to Division-Proof Your Prophetic Ministry

Division-Proof Your Prophetic Ministry‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

During the late 90’s I went through a crisis in my prophetic ministry. God allowed me to fail so that contradictions in my heart could be brought to the surface and addressed.

The context of this failure was division in our local church.

During a season of repentance and realignment, God did a deep work in my heart. A new foundation was laid so that His prophetic call upon my life could be fulfilled. [1]

The Danger of Division in a Changing Church

How is it possible that division can take place in church life amongst prophetic people who love God, love their leaders and who earnestly serve God in the church?

We live in an era when change is occurring at a fast pace—and this is frequently true of church life. During times of transition in a church or church movement, division is more likely to occur.

Perhaps we find it difficult to move on when our oversight leads us through change. This is especially true if the previous direction of our church has been meaningful to us, or we are being called upon to release a ministry responsibility that we hold dear.

Having a struggle with change is not a problem in itself, as long as we acknowledge our pain, concerns and questions, and process these with humility in the right place—which is directly with leadership.

The trouble begins if we persist in resisting the change. Potentially, two visions are now operating in the church—the vision for change, and the vision for ‘un-change.’

A third person has a different idea of how the change should be implemented. Now there are three visions!

Division and Prophetic Ministry

Think about the impact on the unity of a church or ministry if:

  • Someone who is a leader or influencer holds an opposing viewpoint to a change being led by oversight
  • If a prophetic person believes God has spoken to him or her that an opposing viewpoint (either ‘un-change’ or an alternative change) is the right one.

Division can be most damaging when someone standing on a particular viewpoint adds a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to what he or she believes. Immature, impressionable Christians—or simply those that the person is in relationship with—may be led into division, mistakenly believing they are following a vision from God, when in fact, they are being led into deception.

7 Ways to Division-Proof Your Prophetic Ministry

1. Deal Quickly with Discouragement

Frustration and discouragement can easily arise during times of change in church life. We need to recognise and deal with these quickly—and not just for our own sakes. When we are discouraged, those we are in relationship with will pick it up, along with the reasons for our discouragement. [2]

‘For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’ (Luke 6:45, NIV)

2. Take Struggles Directly to Leadership

As I mentioned above, the right place to process concerns we are having about the prophetic direction of our church, or our personal feelings and opinions, is directly to our oversight. Not to our friends in the church and not to our small group, prayer group or fellow team members.

3. Embrace Accountability

In the New Testament (NT), our oversight and pastors hear personally from God in their capacity as leaders and have their own accountability in place. Prophecy should be a confirmation of what God has already spoken to them—and the two should line up. [3]

The greatest test to our prophetic ministry and our character will take place if we believe we have heard something different from God than our leaders have. God may well allow a divergence to take place in order to purify our hearts.

Every prophetic insight is subject to being weighed up. (1 Cor 14:29, 1 Thess 5:19-21) When we allow our prophetic insights to be considered and weighed up, we have an attitude of being teachable. As a result, we have room to move and grow and there is no ceiling on our gift or ministry.

4. Have an Attitude of Building the Church

According to the Apostle Paul, the purpose of prophecy in the church is to ‘edify (build) the church.’ (1 Cor 14:3) The Greek word means to be a ‘house-builder.’

The fruit of prophetic ministry should be to build the church. If a prophetic viewpoint we are holding onto is having the effect of causing disunity—or tearing down (criticising) the church or its leadership—something is wrong. (Prov 14:1)

An attitude of honouring our leaders is not about feelings and emotions, but a choice that we make. Prophetic people in the local church should be the greatest cheerleaders of the leadership-led vision of the church.

5. Recognise God speaks to Your Oversight

In the OT, Kings and leaders did not hear directly from God. They relied on the word of God spoken through His mouthpiece—the prophets.

However, in the NT church, all believers have a relationship with God and can hear Him speak to them. And those in leadership not only have a personal relationship with God, they receive specific guidance from the Holy Spirit in relation to their sphere of leadership.

The way God speaks to our oversight may be different to the way He speaks to us. However, even when God speaks through practical wisdom or ideas initiated by His Spirit, these ways are not inferior to guidance received by a prophetic vision, word or dream. It is the same Holy Spirit communicating.

6. Trust God to Fulfil His Intended Outcome

Realise that God is sovereign and His purpose for your life and your church will be accomplished, as you keep your heart right before Him. His plans for your ministry cannot be derailed by another person, even if that person is a leader. Like a river, His will for your life, ministry and church flows around obstacles and reaches His planned destination.

7. Guard against Judgments

Stay free of judgments—these will manifest as negative opinions. A heart free of judgments is a heart free to hear the Holy Spirit. One sign that we are harbouring judgments against a leader is that we are finding it difficult to receive from God through his or her ministry. Once we break free of the judgments, we are able to receive God’s intended blessing through their ministry again.


Notes:

Prophetic People in a Changing Church

[1] Have you struggled with change in church life? Would you like to know more about the antidote to discouragement and division in church life? The theme of this article, along with the above cartoon, is from my book, ‘Prophetic People In A Changing Church.’
You can find out more on the Enliven Blog e-books page.

[2] For more on the topic of discouragement and how to deal with it, see 6 Doorways To Discouragement In Church Life

[3] See Differences Between Old and New Testament Prophetic Ministry


Related Posts:

Set Yourself Free From Judging Others

6 Doorways To Discouragement In Church Life

Break Free Of Hurts That Are Blocking Your Prophetic Gift


Have you any thoughts or experiences to share on the topic of division in church life? Can you think of some other ways to help prevent division in prophetic ministry? Leave a comment on the comments box. 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

Did you receive this from a friend? Read more from Enliven Blog or sign to receive our weekly prophetic teaching updates at http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog

Is Your Church Prophetic? Surprising Insights from the NT Church

Prophetic ChurchProphetically gifted people tend to have specific ideas of how a church that embraces prophetic ministry should operate.

At one time, I had my own list of ‘ideals.’ These included:

  • Making room for individuals to bring prophecy in the services
  • Unstructured worship that leaves room for the Holy Spirit to move in a prophetic way
  • And so on (probably prophetic painting if we had it back then!)

These days, I have thrown away my list, along with my personal preferences of what a prophetic church looks like. [1]

Some of the most prophetic churches in relationship with our ministry do not have any of the things I have mentioned above. And yet they are highly prophetic, making room for the direction and ministry of the Holy Spirit and honouring prophetic ministry.

Here is the bottom line. A prophetic church is one that:

  • Honours the ministry of the Holy Spirit and follows His leading and direction
  • Fosters a culture that encourages every individual to hear from God personally

A prophetic church will also make room for prophetic ministry—however the expression and operation of ‘prophetic ministry’ will be unique to that local church and the leaders and people, DNA, calling and gifts that make up that church.

Prophetic Ministry in New Testament Local Churches

This uniqueness of prophetic expression can be seen in churches of the New Testament. Consider the different applications of prophecy and prophetic ministry in the following list:

  • The Jerusalem church had a company of prophets, some of whom travelled, ministering prophetically. (Acts 11:27, 15:32, 21:10) The Prophet Agabus was one of this company (Acts 11:27-28)
  • In Acts 9, God gives Ananias, who is from the church in Damascus, prophetic insight into the calling on Saul (later Paul). Ananias is not a Prophet, simply a ‘disciple.’
  • In Acts 4, the Jerusalem church gathers to pray. They are united, praying the purposes of God—a prophetic prayer that God answers.
  • The church in Phillipi was birthed through prophetic guidance. God gave Paul a prophetic dream concerning his team’s immediate call to Macedonia.
  • Prophetic guidance was used of God in evangelism, missionary endeavours, and the establishment of new churches. (Acts 8:26, 10:9-23, 13:1-3, 16:9-10)
  • Prophets were included in the leadership team of the church in Antioch. (Acts 13:1)
  • Antioch church leaders received revelation from the Holy Spirit that it was time to release Paul and Barnabas into their apostolic calling. This prophetic guidance launched Paul’s Apostolic church-planting ministry. (Acts 13)
  • When Paul visited the church at Ephesus, the believers received the Holy Spirit. Each one of them prophesied as they were filled. (Acts 19:6)
  • Paul exhorts the church in Thessalonica not to quench the Spirit, and not to despise prophecy. (1 Thess 5:19-20 – check)
  • Paul encouraged the church in Colossae to include spiritual songs, or ‘songs from the Spirit’ in their gatherings. (Col 3:16)
  • Paul advises the Roman Christians to embrace and use the gifts given by God to serve the body, including the gift of prophecy (Rom 12:5-8)
  • Paul writes to the church in Corinth and instructs them in the use of spiritual gifts in their gatherings, with particular emphasis on the gift of prophecy. He encourages every member to eagerly seek the gift of prophecy. (1 Cor 14:1)
  • Paul reminds Timothy of personal prophecies received during his commissioning from the church elders. (1 Tim 4:14) This may have been at his sending church in Lystra. (Acts 16:1-2)

No ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach to Being a Prophetic Church

Some churches sent itinerant prophetic ministers; others received them. Some churches, such as in Corinth, prophetic gifts and ministry had a high profile. However, there does not seem to be a standard or uniform approach to prophetic ministry in the early church.

Leaders were open to prophetic revelation, but did not rely on it all the time. It was sovereign (initiated by God) and resulted from their relationship with the Holy Spirit.

So what does this mean for us today?

  • For those of us who are gifted in prophecy, it means not placing expectations on our local church leaders on what particular expressions of prophetic ministry should be operating in our church or meetings. Being prophetic is not about performance, but following the Holy Spirit’s unique direction for our church.
  • For those who lead ministries and churches, it encourages us to have the freedom to explore our own unique expression of prophetic ministry.

Notes:

[1] I share about my own journey of struggling with changes in church life, and repentance and restoration in my book, ‘Prophetic People in a Changing Church.’ For more information visit Enliven Blog’s e-Books page.


Related Posts:

A Vision For Prophetic Worship In Church Life

4 Ways to Safeguard A Prophetic Culture

6 Doorways to Discouragement in Church Life

Growing in Prophecy When No One is Cheering you on


What do you think is the main thing a prophetic local church should be or do? If the comments box in 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

Did you receive this from a friend? Read more from Enliven Blog or sign to receive our weekly prophetic teaching updates at http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog