Mike Bickle, the founder of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOPKC), is facing allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse spanning decades and involving multiple women.
Bickle, 68, has been accused of sexual misconduct “where the marriage covenant was not honored,” according to a statement released Saturday from a group of former IHOPKC leaders who investigated the claims.
They said, though they were initially shocked, they found the allegations credible based on the “collective and corroborating testimony” of “several victims.”
Bickle’s charismatic megachurch—which has offered round-the-clock prayer and worship since its founding in 1999—was informed of the allegations on Friday, according to The Kansas City Star, which obtained a recording of the announcement.
Stuart Greaves, executive director at IHOPKC, told staff that the leadership team is “taking the situation very seriously.”
The leaders who released the statement—former executive leadership team and board members Dwane Roberts and Brian Kim, along with former Forerunner Christian Fellowship pastor Wes Martin—said they first attempted to bring the allegations directly to Bickle, as the Bible instructs in Matthew 18. They said Bickle refused to meet with them and then tried to intimidate and discredit the victims.
The Kansas City Star reported that Bickle preached on false allegations last Sunday.
In the sermon, he discussed how, per Revelation 12:10, “Satan’s most effective weapon in the end times is accusation” and he turns “whispered innuendoes into hostile accusations that destroy lives and relationships,” according to sermon notes linked by The Roys Report.
Bickle also said that “the church is approaching the most glorious and challenging hour in history with the dragon (black horse) breathing on many to accuse and betray each other.”
Greaves referenced the line from his sermon during the announcement to staff, saying, “We ask that we not make reference to the ‘black horse’ in this situation, as a way of minimizing the pain of those affected. Our primary concern is for those who are suffering pain and trauma, our spiritual family, Mike and Diane, as well as the Bickle family.”
Bickle agreed to pause from preaching and teaching while the church engages “outside parties to assess and arbitrate the allegation,” IHOPKC leaders announced during Sunday’s service and on social media.
The leaders who investigated the allegations against Bickle said they believe his actions “fall short of biblical standards for leaders in the church” and include Bickle’s use of spiritual authority to manipulate victims. Their statement said the women who came forward “had nothing to gain by sharing their experience except the pursuit of truth, repentance, mercy, and grace.”
They said Bickle, who has not responded publicly to the recent reports, denied all allegations.
Bickle began his ministry as a pastor in Kansas City in the 1980s and 1990s; his church left the Vineyard denomination in the mid-90s as Bickle grew more charismatic and began to hold different views on prophesy and intercession. At the time, Bickle had been affiliated with local “prophets” including Paul Cain and Bob Jones. (Both ended up in scandal: Jones—no relation to the university—went on to admit to sexual misconduct and spiritual abuse, and Cain was disciplined over homosexual behavior and alcoholism.)
At IHOPKC, Bickle emphasizes fasting, prophesy, the spiritual realm, and the end times. Some consider his ministry a part of the independent charismatics, though he has rejected the “New Apostolic Reformation” label. He appeared on Charisma’s Strang Report earlier this month to share a prophetic word regarding the war in Israel, and earlier this year held a fast for the “salvation of Israel,” which Bickle says will bring about the Second Coming.
Staff at IHOPKC number around 2,000, all full-time missionaries who raise their own support, according to the ministry website. During the announcement from IHOPKC leadership, some called for more transparency, saying “there is more to be shared,” The Kansas City Star reported.
Roberts, one of the authors of the statement, now serves as a leader at the Florianópolis House of Prayer in Brazil. His church announced that it is distancing itself from Bickle for the time being.
“Our cry and prayer is that we will be strong and not allow these events to shake our faith, or discourage our hearts, in the journey of raising up a church that prays and waits for the return of the Bridegroom,” the church wrote [in Portuguese]. “We are committed to complete transparency and the Truth and will share more information as the facts are clarified.”
Some former IHOPKC members have said the church was coercive and cult-like; the church has stated that it’s elder-led, has checks in place for leaders, and is committed to safety against sexual, emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse.
More than a decade ago, the International House of Prayer came under scrutiny after alleged sexual assault and a death occured among a group of students who had formed their own “religious community.” It was also sued by IHOP for trademark infringement.