International House of Prayer Relieves Mike Bickle of Duties, Begins Formal Investigation
IHOPKC originally retained a national law firm to conduct the investigation, but switched to a local firm following pushback from victim advocates.
Based on allegations of sexual abuse, the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC) has asked its founding leader Mike Bickle to step away from his duties pending an independent investigation.
“Our Executive Leadership Team and Mike Bickle have agreed that out of the best interest of the organization and the integrity of IHOPKC, Mike will step away from public ministry for an indefinite time, up to and including until we complete a thorough examination of the allegations and inquiry of the circumstances,” a Nov. 5 press release from IHOPKC stated.
The leadership at IHOPKC had originally retained national law firm Stinson LLP to conduct the investigation, assess the allegations, and advise IHOPKC about appropriate next steps, the statement added.
Some critics have expressed concern that hiring a law firm shows that IHOPKC is more concerned with mitigating liability than conducting a transparent and honest investigation.
“IHOPKC Survivors” started a petition on Change.org asking the ministry to invite GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to conduct the investigation. At the time of publication, the petition had over 2,500 of its desired 5,000 signatures.
“We believe the gravity of these allegations cannot be understated, nor adequately addressed should they be handled by parties that may carry the appearance of vested interests or potential biases,” the open letter to IHOPKC leadership reads.
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“The integrity of the IHOPKC organization and the wellbeing of its members hinge on a process that assures impartiality, thoroughness, and transparency.”
It also urged the ministry to refer victims to law enforcement or crisis hotlines instead of directing them to a pastoral care team that may be biased.
In response, IHOPKC announced Friday that it has retained a local Kansas City law firm to conduct the interviews rather than Stinson LLP.
In late October, three former leaders at IHOPKC—Dwayne Roberts, Brian Kim, and Wes Martin—made the current ministry leadership aware of “allegations of clergy sexual abuse by Mike Bickle” that they found to be “credible and long-standing.”
The group of leaders claim they confronted Bickle with the allegations, but were rebuffed.
Originally, Bickle agreed not to preach or teach at IHOPKC, engage in its 24-hour prayer room, or post to his social media while they work with outside parties to assess the situation, but this latest step has relieved him of his duties entirely.
IHOPKC was founded in 1999 by Bickle after he broke away from the Vineyard Church movement following conflict with other leaders. It operates a prayer room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bickle’s theology emphasizes fasting, prophetic experiences and end-times studies and is associated with the New Apostolic Reformation.
About the investigation, IHOPKC said: “[W]e understand that statements like this coming from our leadership team is new for our community, but what has occurred in the last week is unprecedented here at IHOPKC. Even in this time of crisis, we trust in the leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Main photo: Mike Bickle, founding leader of IHOPKC