Despite the fact that eighteen months have gone by, two weeks ago I absorbed yet another blow for refusing to join those who were critical of the Lakeland Outpouring. It’s not that I didn’t see anything about it I didn’t like – I frequently said if it was my “outpouring” I’d change about six things. But I sensed the Lord didn’t want me in the seat of scoffers. And because I stood where I stood, Todd Bentley’s sin became a black eye for me too.
With that in mind you’d think I’d hesitate to be one of the first to lend my enthusiasm to what has been transpiring at IHOP in KC since last Wednesday. And, in case you are wondering, I won’t hide my connections there. Kristen and I are from Kansas City – we enjoyed and were later hurt by things that unfolded during our time at Kansas City Fellowship in the 80’s. We left it all and came back. We’ve paid a high price even in the last couple years for our refusal to distance ourselves from there. My son Caleb is in his second year of a four year program in the Bible school there. I’m delighted he is part of what they are now calling the IHOPU Student Awakening. He’s been deeply touched. Yesterday, at work, he led a witch to Jesus. I’m thankful, and confident he’s on the right track.
Last week, yet another letter was written criticizing Church at the Gate and my connection to IHOP. Nothing new. Nothing I haven’t heard before or that I wasn’t personally involved with in the 80’s. It was the typical stuff… I heard from a friend who has a relative who lives in Kansas City who has a friend who went to an IHOP event… And, then people who probably struggle to pray one hour a week start in criticizing a man who prays ten hours a day.
Before you jump to conclusions about IHOP-KC, think about this… just like IHOP-KC (10 yrs of 24/7 prayer), and the Moravians in Herrnhut, Germany (120 yrs of 24/7 prayer, starting in AD 1727), and the 3000 Celtic monks in Bangor, Ireland (300 years of 24/7 prayer, starting in AD 555), etc., let’s imagine that your little circle of Christians started praying twenty-four hours a day, seven-days-a-week and this went on for ten years seamlessly. Now, reflect on these questions:
- Do you think your group would look different than it does right now? If so, how so?
- Do you think your group would stand out and be criticized by Christians who have no grid for what they see happening in your group?
- Would parents of students involved have concern that their son or daughter spending four hours a day in the prayer room is cult-like?
- Do you think your group would develop it’s own vocabulary that is foreign to those not a part of it?
- During these extended times in God’s presence, do you think God would underscore stuff in Scripture that is outside what your circle of Christianity presently views as orthodoxy?
- Has “evangelicalism” produced what God wants in the last fifty years? We are known by our fruits.
- What will it look like when spiritual awakening hits our college campuses?
Remember, a fanatic is one who loves Jesus more than you.
What is happening at IHOP-KC is God. We are agreed that the level of zeal for the Lord on display there far surpasses what what is normal in evangelicalism.
My favorite critique is to hear that someone says I’ve gone off the deep end. What a compliment. I hunger for the deep things of God. They can stay in the shallow end with their floaties. Let me make my point visually. I first thought to do this cartoon a couple years ago when someone commented to me — “I hear Church at the Gate is pretty radical.” I chucked and said, “Compared to what? Compared to the Bible? Hardly. Despite my wholehearted labor these past fifteen years, the Bible calls for a far more radical devotion yet.” I titled the cartoon – Is Church at the Gate radical?