Mike Bickle, founder of the 24/7 worship centre, known as the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Kansas, is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, which church leaders say spans several decades.
His church has been hosting continuous prayer and worship for around 15 years, and a livestream of its praise music is watched by millions around the world. Bickle also led a group known as the Kansas City Prophets, which conducted international mission trips, introducing many Christians, including in the UK, to prophetic words and pictures in the early 1990s.
A statement, written by three former members of the Kansas City IHOP who are involved in the disciplinary process against him reads: "A few days ago, we made the leadership team of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC) aware of serious allegations spanning several decades concerning its founder, Mike Bickle. Without going into details to protect the privacy of the victims' identities, we have found these allegations of clergy sexual abuse by Mike Bickle to be credible and long-standing. The credibility of these allegations is not based on any one experience or any one victim, but on the collective and corroborating testimony of the experiences of several victims..."
It continues: "When these allegations were brought to our attention, we were shocked. We could never have imagined that inappropriate conduct with women as something we would ever need to be concerned about. The allegations seemed out of character to the man we thought we knew, but they were so serious we could not ignore them."
Without specifying the nature of the allegations, the statement details that they were "sexual in nature", and involved incidents where "the marriage covenant was not honored". It goes on to suggest that, in their view, Mike Bickle used his position of spiritual authority over the victims, to manipulate them.
The statement urges members of the IHOP community to avoid speculation over naming those who've come forward, but says they are women, who have "always been viewed as credible, trustworthy, and courageous." The message also states they have also found no alterior motive behind the reports.
"None of these victims had any intention to punish Mike Bickle and they had nothing to gain by sharing their experiences except the pursuit of truth, repentance, mercy, and grace."
Executive leaders Isaac Bennett, David Sliker and Stuart Graves addressed the community at Forerunner Church after the news broke. They assured those present that there were systems in place at IHOP to minister to those who were affected, or suffering trauma, and to offer pastoral support. They said questions were allowed and welcome, but that some might not be answered until the appropriate time. They said they would not comment on the nature of the allegations, and that while “careful, deliberate, slow answers can feel like secrecy,” they wanted to only comment on it, “at the right time with the right information” because “the allegations can run faster than clarity.”
This prompted an outburst from former IHOPKC leader, Dean Briggs, who resigned from the leadership team last month. After listening to the announcement he stood up and shouted: "I do not consider this an acceptable level of transparency." He then used an expletive to imply the leaders comments amounted to well-intentioned 'rubbish'. This was caught on video and met with a shout of "I second that" by another person in the audience.
Briggs continued with his objection, saying: "There is more to be shared... and I believe that you need to address this in a different way with a right degree of transparency or this is not going to be a trustworthy process.“ Witnesses say Briggs then walked out of the gathering.
Mike Bickle denies the allegations. It's reported that he preached on the issue of false allegations just last week.