This post is part of a series, primarily aimed at parents who have questions about sending their son or daughter to IHOPU or young people who want to know what they are getting into there at IHOPU or the wider IHOP-KC community.
3) Is IHOPKC faithfully teaching young believers to take hold of the completed work of Christ and their new identities in Christ, or giving them elaborate mechanisms by which they can attempt to earn sanctified identities?
I remember one young woman I met of the hundreds who came to visit IHOPKC every year. She was pretty and very young, early twenties. She was dressed in a trendy top with a short skirt, trim but not outrageous. She wore a rimmed man’s hat, and red lipstick. She was very, very cool. She sat quietly until you talked to her, and then she exhibited her boldness. She was insatiably hungry for spirituality. She went from meeting to meeting, gathering information, like a human sponge. She had driven a couple days to get to KC so she could visit the House of Prayer, staying with some acquaintances. For the duration of her visit, she was driving herself, wherever someone might suggest she should go. We met at a house meeting, where I noted her intensity.
I have described her as if she stood out, but why she really stood out to me was how typical she was of the young people who are drawn there. Spiritually eager for experience, completely suggestible and ungrounded, totally self-oriented.
We conversed for a while, long enough for me to know that if there was anyone with wisdom and oversight in her life, such as a parent, they were not present at this stage in her game. She was a spiritual orphan, and an eager pilgrim.
Towards the end of our conversation, she told me she was really thinking and praying about moving to Kansas City to join the House of Prayer. In a couple of jumbled, casual sentences, she laid out that she was a single mom, so she would have to figure out a place to stay for herself and her son, because she was currently living with relatives who helped her with her child and she didn’t really know anyone in KC, and would not have a job. When I asked why she would move her child to Kansas City, she said, “Because I really, like, feel like I’m called to, like, live a totally consecrated life, completely devoted and set apart to God.”
She was cool, but I was NOT.
In my mind, I pictured her little boy (she was too young to have an older child), watching TV in some house hundreds of miles away, without a father, while his mother put on red lipstick and a short skirt and went off to chase God instead of cutting up his food and reading him stories and scratching his back while he went to sleep, because none of the high-minded, spiritual teachers whose feet she had sat at had told her enough simple biblical truth to break her adolescent, self-centered heart over her utter godlessness, and bring her to repentance.
I pictured his life, if the one person he had (his mother) signed up to devote 24 hrs a week to “God” in the Prayer Room (the “Sacred Charge” which you sign as an oath that you will fulfill your “hours”), the relationships with immature, emotionally broken young men she would entangle herself in with no pastoral covering and subject her little son to, and the manner of people she would have to petition to “help” her with her bothersome child, who made it so difficult for her to devote her life to God. I imagined the poverty the child would know, the resources she would devote to thrift store finds to keep up her chic image, the unaccredited public school he would have to attend, in an unimaginably dysfunctional district. I thought of how many children just like him I had met, how empty their eyes are, and how they are being told day after day after day that the AUTHOR OF it all is GOD. “Oh, but how he loves you,” the soundtrack will play over all his empty abandonment of his childhood. Oh, the God who loves you and doesn’t meet any of your needs…
I believe it is a grave thing to lie to children about the character of God, even if it’s your life that is lying though your words are mostly true. It mattered to me when we met the broken twenty-something’s who had grown up in KCF or Metro (the predecessors to IHOP), and they were gay.
I had a few sentences with which to try to counter the trumpeting chorus of IHOPKC’s propaganda machine which she had been experiencing for the past few days: the conference, the recruiting videos, the music, the MAGIC, the authoritative speakers who would NEVER TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE HELL HER CHILD’S LIFE WOULD BECOME as they shout and whisper from the stage about the end of the age and the burning and shining lamps. The tractor beam. And so I said,
“But have you read the New Testament? Don’t you know that 1 Peter tells us that every born again believer is consecrated, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and that we are all, every single one of us, called to live a set-apart life? Can you take your son away from everyone who loves him and every support system you and he have? You don’t have to move to be consecrated.”
My little plea to read the Bible was totally unimpressive compared to the recruiting tractor beam of peddled, puffed-up spirituality she had been devouring, loving to play at life as if she were a college freshman about to do an all-nighter. It didn’t really even seem to register with her that I had said anything. She acted as if she agreed with me, continuing with me in conversation as if I had not said anything contrary to her original plan. I am pretty sure I lost that battle.
I understand the state of this generation: they are broken, shattered, and fornicating, producing fatherless children like themselves. I understand that among 20 year olds there are going to be many who have no idea what health and wholeness they are withholding from their children because they never had it. My heart is not against them, but for them.
My heart IS against teachers who seeing their famished spiritual state feed them sawdust instead of truth. Who would allure this young lady to send out letters to raise funds to be an intercessory missionary instead of leading her through REAL repentance from fornication and shame, teach her how to lay down her life and mother her toddler, and provide a place where she could use what few hours she could spare from mothering to earn enough money for them to live on to the best possible standard.
If it sounds like I am enraged, I am. You have to blind your eyes to the reality of people, their needs, and their lives, and have no regard for that for which CHRIST ACTUALLY DIED. To save, deliver, restore, make clean, bring life from death, give beauty for ashes.
THIS IS NOT TALK. THIS IS THE REALITY OF CHRIST. HIS FRUIT IS HEALTH AND WHOLENESS, ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN.
What a sick farce, to call to the ends of the earth for the children of the church, promising them the status of forerunners in the Spirit of John the Baptist, lure them in, and then teach them carefully how to detach from everything Christ would REALLY do to in their REAL lives and instead live out a play dream on a spiritual stage, while the devil wreaks havoc. For many families we met, the prayer room functions a bit like a pub, where a man can sit and drink while at home his kids are hungry and his wife is going out of her mind. But one of the first things they learn is the spirituality of sorrow, so as their lives get worse and worse, they can believe it is all a part of being “consecrated.”
4) What does IHOPKC’s foundational unbelief, works-based form of godliness, and denial of the finished work of the Cross open the door to in their midst?
The combination of rampant unbelief, a relentless system of works and fleshly efforts, and a vigorous pursuit of spiritual encounter leaves the door open to a simple, horrible result. I do not say that it is always the result, but that the door is open. That result is best displayed in Tyler and Bethany Deaton and Micah Moore.
An occasional gospel message is simply not enough to counter the system, built on false teaching and false prophecy, that those who really buy in give themselves to. I know of at least one young person who got genuinely saved at IHOPKC. But I know of many more we came across who were simply unconverted, and did not know it. In these folks, there was no fruit of salvation, sexual sin was rampant, there was no conviction of sin or fundamental understanding of the true gospel. But they were so deeply IN the system, with no one around them seemingly able to discern their state, that oftentimes we would charge them to stop laying hands on people in prayer, or to stop ministering in the Prophecy Rooms until they were reconciled to God.
Like the story above, our voices were just too small in contrast to the system that assured them they were on track and offered alternate gauges for spirituality than those given in scripture. They could comfortably go to inner healing classes for sexual restoration, and be attended to by caring, sincere individuals who really tried to minister. But I never heard a story of these ministers stopping the “struggle” jargon to discern someone’s salvation, explaining that the Bible says no one who is sexually immoral will see the kingdom. They were comfortable having a sexual “struggle,” and spending their time praying for Israel and playing their instruments. It’s a different gospel. It’s a different way. It’s got enough genuine believers involved to give it the illusion of authenticity, but the bulk of it deception and for those unequipped with a helmet of salvation and breastplate of righteousness, seeking dreams, visions, trances, and encounters, it is a recipe for seeking to be deceived and even possessed.
Before Tyler Deaton’s blog was taken down, you could read his account from around the time of the awakening of a supernatural encounter in which he was thrown on the floor and screamed for a prolonged length of time. What had he been seeking? “An experience of salvation.” (as opposed to believing). Who had been his advisor? A professor at IHOPU. Was he making it up? Why would he? I was there at IHOP’s “Awakening.” Hundreds of kids were being thrown to the ground, screaming, yelling, shaking, laughing, etc. He certainly met with a spirit. He, believing as He was taught at IHOPU that it was the Holy Spirit, received it with everything in him. Is it very difficult to judge that fruit?