Make space for prophecy in your church service and you’ll power up worship, bless people and train your prophets. Here’s how to do it.
Last time, we looked at why you should include the gift of prophecy in your Sunday meetings.
To recap, we discussed 3 specific reasons why this is a good idea. We said that including prophecy in your church service will:
But I want to take us a step further. Previously we looked at the why and today we’re going to talk about the how.
Over the next couple of posts, we’re going to answer two specific questions:
- 1How do you enable sharing of prophecies to the whole congregation?
- 2How do you empower your prayer team to prophesy to individuals?
We’ll focus on the first of these questions now and continue with the other one next time. Read on to find out more.
Make Space For Prophecy: Two Types Of Prophecy
I hope by now that you’ve seen why prophecy can be a really useful gift to deploy in your church services. (If not, then I suggest you read about that first before coming back here.)
But how to do you go about encouraging your congregation to partake of this gift, while preserving a pastoral heart to protect vulnerable individuals?
For that, you need a strategy. And for your strategy it’s important to think about 2 distinct types of prophecy: group prophecy and personal prophecy.
1. Group Prophecy
This is where a prophecy is declared publicly to everyone present.
Group prophecies are usually given from the front of the meeting, perhaps through the leader’s microphone.
They are most commonly declared to the whole church congregation but could also be shared in smaller groups, depending on the circumstances.
For example, you might split down into small groups for prayer and allow prophecies to take place in that setting. If you’re currently meeting online via Zoom, you might make space for prophecy in a breakout room.
2. Personal Prophecy
Prophecies are often spoken to individuals. This usually takes place during face-to-face prayer ministry by your prayer team.
Many churches reserve their prayer team until a specific section of the meeting, perhaps to enable people to respond to the sermon.
Personal prophecies can sometimes be spoken from the front too.
For example, someone may have a word of knowledge that the Lord wants to heal people with specific health issues. You can then use such words to lead into personal ministry with your prayer team.
Make Space For Prophecy: A Note On Lockdown And Online Meetings
Whether you are in a church building or you’re still under lockdown and meeting online via Zoom, the principles we’ll discuss are the same.
I will, therefore, assume that either type of prophecy is shared in a Sunday meeting, regardless of the medium through which it is given.
For simplicity’s sake, I will refer to group prophecy as “given from the front of church” and personal prophecy as “spoken to an individual” for the rest of this article.
Not a church leader?
If you’re not a church leader then don’t switch off at this point!
We are all influencers and that includes you!
Even if you can’t implement this strategy yourself, you can pray for and encourage your leaders in it.
And don’t forget to send them a link to this article!
How To Make Space For Prophecy: Implementation Strategy
Whether you encourage group or personal prophecy in your meetings, or a combination of both, you’ll need an implementation strategy.
You need to prepare yourself and your congregation for the giving and receiving of prophetic words. This will require some thoughtful prayer and possibly teaching, up front.
And the approach will be slightly different for group prophecy than for its personal counterpart. You’ll know your own congregation better than anyone else, so you may prefer to start with one and make sure it’s fully accepted, before moving on to the next.
What follows is my suggestions for a group prophecy implementation strategy (next time, we’ll follow up with a strategy for personal prophecy).
Make Space For Prophecy: Group Prophecy Implementation Strategy
When tackling group prophecy, you’ll want meeting leaders to encourage prophets within a safe, loving environment, while maintaining control of the meeting.
Here are the steps to set it up:
1. Set clear goals
Start by being crystal clear with yourself what the goal of group prophecy should be.
You want to hear what God is saying through the members of your congregation. But you don’t want them to embellish the message with their own ideas, no matter how well-meaning they may be.
To borrow a legal term, you want them to share “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.
You don’t want to hear their opinions about church life, the government or the state of the nation. Neither do you want to hear political broadcasts on behalf of their favourite party.
And you certainly don’t want one of your prophets in training to share a 3 point sermon for half an hour!
So set clear goals on what prophecy should look like in your church. And write them down so you can refer back to them later.
2. Prepare your own heart
You’re going to need to ask serious questions of yourself if you are going to enter into this wholeheartedly. For example:
Make up your mind from the beginning to accept the possibility of mistakes and decide how you are going to respond when or if they happen.
Again, write your thoughts down. If you later encounter situations you’re unsure of, you’ll be able to refer back to your notes and keep a clear head.
3. Allow time for prophecy
Where and when will you include prophecy in your meetings?
It’s a good idea to start with a scheduled slot. You can prime people at the beginning of the meeting that there will be an opportunity to share what God is saying, later on.
You could also include a prayer asking God to speak to each person to help people get ready for when the moment comes.
I like to lead meetings with a “light hand” and allow Holy Spirit to take over when he wants, even during the middle of worship.
However, I recognise that not many meeting leaders feel comfortable doing that and some may be concerned that chaos could descend.
Personally, I find that Holy Spirit brings Heaven’s order with him. It’s just that sometimes it looks a bit different to what we might expect!
Prophecy and Children
Some leaders may prefer to reserve public prophecy for after the children have gone out to their small groups. That may be a good option while the adults are learning.
However, once everyone is more comfortable with group prophecy, I'd recommend that you include children in the process too. In our church we encourage children to exercise spiritual gifts from a young age and it has earned dividends in their teenage years.
When a young person shares a revelation from God it is so encouraging to them and to everyone who hears it! It’s evidence that God is at work and motivates them to continue exploring their faith.
4. Prepare others
Identify mature individuals in your congregation who already have the gift of prophecy (you may be one of them).
Share some basic guidelines with those who want to prophesy. For example, you can ask them to keep it simple and loving, don’t waffle too much and be clear about what they think God is saying.
Set clear meeting boundaries, pray about them and discuss them together. This should be done with meeting leaders and prophets first, before sharing them with the rest of the congregation.
5. Ask meeting leaders to filter and weigh prophecies
As part of setting those boundaries, you’ll need to train meeting leaders to weigh prophecies and decide how to respond when they are received.
In my previous role as a church leader, we used the following framework which you may like to model.
Step by Step:
The meeting leader is assumed to have the authority for what happens during the meeting. They are expected to listen to God throughout and follow his direction, while being mindful of the schedule (e.g. to take account of what time the children go out to small groups).
Anyone who wants to share a prophetic word for the congregation should talk to the meeting leader first and be prepared to leave it with them.
The meeting leader may choose whether to share that word or not, according to the leading of Holy Spirit. They will decide when it will be shared and who will speak: the leader might feel it’s more appropriate to share the word themselves, instead of handing over the microphone. They may also ask the prophet to email their prophecy to the leader after the meeting.
If leaders do allow people to speak through the microphone, then tell your prophets to accept a simple touch on their arm as a sign they need to wind up what they’re saying.
I find that this framework enables congregations to honour Holy Spirit and one another, while maintaining order in worship. Sharing the framework with everyone upholds a gracious, loving culture and avoids potential embarrassment if a prophecy is “rejected”.
Make Space For Prophecy
If you follow through with the strategy we’ve discussed today, you’ll have succeeded at transforming your church culture. You’ll identify your prophets and train them and your whole congregation in the giving and receiving of prophecies within a safe, loving environment.
Not only that, but you’re likely to discover a new level of excitement and engagement in your church community.
Now, during lockdown, could be the best time to do it because online meetings are more formal by nature. And sooner or later you will be back in the church building to reap the rewards!
Increased Desire For Personal Prophecy
You may also see an increased desire for personal prophecy, but responding to that is contingent on having a prayer team in place at your church.
The meeting leader is unlikely to keep track of many prophecies in the middle of a busy service, unless you can delegate to those who have been trained to do it.
So how can you establish a prayer team for personal ministry if you don’t already have one? Stay tuned because that’s the subject of my next post!
Answer the following question and don’t forget the prophecy school sale that’s now on!
Have you made space for prophecy in your church meeting?
What difference did it make to you?
Let Us Know Your Answer In The Comments Area, Below.