Mike Bickle (born 1955) is an AmericanEvangelical Christian leader best known for his leadership of the International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC). As the leader of IHOP-KC Bickle oversees several ministries and a Bible school. Bickle has written a number of books and served as the pastor of multiple churches.
After serving as a pastor in several evangelical churches in St. Louis, Bickle moved to Kansas City to start the Kansas City Fellowship (now known as Metro Christian Fellowship) in November 1982. Eventually, Metro Christian Fellowship joined the Association of Vineyard Churches led by John Wimber in 1990 and remained a part of that association of churches until 1996. During his tenure as the pastor of Metro Christian Fellowship, Bickle pastored a group known to both detractors and supporters as the Kansas City Prophets that, by some accounts, included Bob Jones, Paul Cain, John Paul Jackson, and others. Bickle asserted no formal group known as the Kansas City Prophets ever existed, but that the term "clustered a whole bunch of personalities into one group and one stereotype."
During his ministry, Bickle claims to have had several encounters with God, including hearing the audible voice of God and being taken to heaven twice.
In 1999, Bickle left the church that he was pastoring, then a megachurch of over three thousand members, in order to start the International House of Prayer (also known by its acronym IHOPKC). IHOPKC is most well known for its daily prayer meetings based on its "harp and bowl" worship model that are held 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year since September 19, 1999. IHOPKC also established a Bible college, known as the International House of Prayer University and several internships for young adults. In addition to these training programs, IHOPKC also organizes various evangelism and charitable programs locally and internationally. The ministry currently consists of approximately 2,500 full-time staff members, students, and interns.
Bickle organizes the annual onething conference at the Kansas City Convention Center. In 2010, the event saw over 25,000 young adults attend. The conference focuses on worship music and sermons on prayer, evangelism, and Christian eschatology.
Bickle is known for dressing casually while preaching and for his avoidance of "charismatic self-referentiality".
In 1988 Bickle began studying the Song of Songs, a book that he had dismissed in the past as being only for women. He interprets the Song of Songs as an allegory of the relationship between the body of believers (= the church) and God. After studying this book for several years, he began to focus his ministry primarily on the Great Commandment.
Bickle teaches extensively on prayer. Bickle began teaching on the Tabernacle of David in 1983 after an experience in which he claims to have heard the audible voice of God. He encourages churches and Christian ministries to develop a "culture of prayer" by developing continuous worship and prayer.
Bickle has also focused some of his teaching on God's spiritual purposes for Israel. He believes that it is important for Christians to pray for the spiritual salvation of the Jews.
Various criticisms of aspects of Bickle's theology and ministry practices exist. Aspects of his ministry which have been particularly controversial include his view of the prophetic ministry today. Most of the criticism involving Bickle's ministry, however, focuses on the sexual activities of some of the ministers that were closely connected with his ministry in the 80s and 90s, including Bob Jones and Paul Cain though neither has been involved with Bickle's ministry for several years as a result.
In 1990 Kansas City pastor Ernie Gruen published a report entitled "Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teaching of the Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries)". After the publication of this document, Bickle announced that he was submitting to John Wimber's oversight and joined the Association of Vineyard Churches in part to address the issues raised by his critics. Bickle later noted that "We were tempted to say that the attacks were all of the devil. In retrospect, we see that God’s hand in all of this - even using the things that came from Satan’s hand as well. Some of the criticisms were valid (especially concerning our pride) others were not."
^Riss, Richard M. (2002). "Bickle, Mike". In Stanley M. Burgess. The new international dictionary of Pentecostal and charismatic movements. (Rev. and expanded ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House. p. 417. ISBN0310224810.
^Bickle, Mike (September 9, 2007), God’s Desire to Find a Resting Place on Earth, pp. section I paragraph A., retrieved 2008-02-13 "In the May 1983 Solemn Assembly (corporate 21 days of fasting), the Lord spoke audibly commissioning us, saying: 'I will release 24-hour prayer in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David'.”
^Maudlin, Michael G. (January 14, 1991), "Seers in the Heartland", Christianity Today35 (1): 18–21, ISSN0009-5753 "Several cult-watching groups have expressed apprehension, and a few, condemnation. Even some Vineyard churches have expressed grave concerns about the direction the prophets are taking them."
^Bickle, Mike (Fall, 1989), "Visions and Revelations" Mike Bickle interviews Bob Jones, (audiotape)Check date values in: |date= (help) Background info on Bob Jones
^ ab"Kansas City 'Prophet' Disciplined", Christianity Today36 (3), March 9, 1992.: 67, ISSN0009-5753Check date values in: |date= (help)"Vineyard leaders took strong steps recently to discipline well-known "prophet" Bob Jones after Jones admitted to "Sexual misconduct (not adultery)" with two women." "Vineyard leadership also is supporting the Joneses through regular counseling, visits by the Kansas City Metro Vineyard leadership, and monetary contributions."
^Gibson, Keith (May/June 2007.), "Speaking for God? A Response to the Apostolic and Prophetic Movement", Areopagus Journal7 (3): 67, ISSN1542-040XCheck date values in: |date= (help) Gibson notes "To Bickle, apparently, the Trinity is one of those "lesser doctrines" around which a true prophet may be misinformed."
^Grady, J. Lee (Sept/October 1990), "Resolving the Kansas City Prophecy Controversy", Ministries Today (Lake Mary, FL: Strang Communications Company): 50–51, OCLC132797310Check date values in: |date= (help) "Gruen says he first became troubled about some of KCF's doctrines after a disagreement with Bickle during a pastor's retreat in 1984." and "In a surprise announcement, he [Wimber] said that Bickle and his associates had agreed to submit themselves to his oversight and become part of Wimber's Vineyard Ministries. The KCF network of fellowships would become Vineyard churches."
^Beverly, James A. (1995), Holy laughter and the Toronto blessing: an investigative report, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, p. 180, ISBN978-0-310-20497-8
^Bickle, Mike; Sullivant, Michael (1996), Growing in the Prophetic, Orlando, FL: Charisma House, ISBN0-88419-426-4
^Maudlin, Michael G. (January 14, 1991), "Seers in the Heartland", Christianity Today35 (1): 18–21, ISSN0009-5753 "To cap it all off, Mike Bickle received public correction (from Wimber) for exaggerating some prophecies, for allowing too much latitude with some prophetic ministers, and for unnecessarily provoking other Kansas City churches for making unwise statements about the role of KCF."