Emotional Manipulation: AIM’s connection to IHOP

January 31, 2017 by missionsandmysticism

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” John 4:1-3a

In judging a true work of the Holy Spirit based on this verse, Jonathan Edwards who saw a great work of the (true) Spirit in New England in the 1700’s said, “A work [of the Spirit] is not to be judged by any effects on the bodies of men; such as tears, trembling, groans, loud outcries, agonies of body or the failing of bodily strength….Scripture nowhere gives us any such rule…”

He goes on to say, “(if the esteem is raised) of Jesus who was born of the virgin, and was crucified…establishing and confirming in their minds the the truth of what the Gospel declares to us of His being the Son of God and the Saviour of men; it is a sure sign of the Spirit of God…”, and “the spirit that operates in such a manner as to cause in men a greater regard to the Holy Scriptures, and establishes them more in their truth and divinity is certainly the Spirit of God” (Jonathan Edwards on Revival)

Emotional Manipulation at AIM

As evidenced by this testimony we recently shared, young adults at Adventures in Missions are having spiritual experiences while in heightened emotional states often achieved through long worship sessions.   We are concerned that there is an element of emotional manipulation in order to achieve these experiences and further, that the experiences can have an addictive quality.  The lack of biblical theology and sound doctrine at AIM causes us to doubt that these experiences are of God.

The supposed “manifestations of the spirit” witnessed by former racers are powerful signs and might lead one to believe that God’s Spirit was moving in a mighty way.  However, scripture informs us that the Holy Spirit “bears witness of {Christ}” (John 15:26).  The Spirit ALWAYS points to our Savior.  Since there is a both a lack of, and misrepresentation of, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ at AIM we must conclude that these “manifestations” are not representative of the Spirit at all but rather of serious deception.

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” Jude 17-23

We are sure that these spiritual experiences are quite compelling and we wonder how many Racers have felt a “withdrawal” of sorts from them upon their return home?  How many are struggling to process what they have experienced and what they have been taught?  Our prayer is that the Lord Jesus would deliver His true children from this type of harmful teaching and practice, and they in turn would desire to help rescue others, “snatching them from the fire”. The Gospel and the written Word have the power to overcome the evil one and his deception.

What is IHOP and how is it connected to Adventures in Missions and the World Race?

IHOP stands for International House of Prayer.  Founded by Mike Bickle in 1999 with active “prayer” taking place 24/7.   A good review of IHOP is as follows:

 “The rapid expansion, the unusual practices, the fierce loyalty of many IHOP members, and the relative newness of the ministry have led many to question whether the International House of Prayer is a biblically solid ministry or a cult….So, while 24/7 prayer is commendable, if the prayers being uttered are not biblical, there is no true value in them…Many have been led astray by those claiming to be apostles and prophets with a “word from the Lord.” There have been many reports of spiritual abuse and prophetic manipulation within the International House of Prayer movement…With all of that said, clearly, IHOP should not be considered a biblically sound ministry/organization. The above concerns are only the “tip of the iceberg” in comparison to some of the things that have been reported by former IHOP members/participants.” 

The common thread of emotional manipulation is seen at both IHOP and AIM, thus their connection makes sense.  The following insights are noted on racer’s blogs:

From a Racer in Prague, “So we have been working with IHOP (international House of Prayer), there are a few located throughout the world and what it is, in a glimpse I say, is a place where God and heaven loves to invade…this room is where God tells us what to pray for and we speak it into existence.”

Note that we have no power to speak anything into existence.  This is reminiscent of the heretical Word of Faith belief that we are “little gods”.  We have questioned this before.

Another Racer, “We partnered with … IHOP Prague. We had the pleasure of attending their church twice, but our main focus for being there was to take part of IHOP. IHOP stands for International House of Prayer. The main one is located in Kansas City, MO, but there are many locations throughout the world. It is a place where God’s children come to stand in the gap on His behalf. Our focus, in those 10 days, was worship and intercession.”

This Racer shares, “At IHOPP (International House of Prayer: Prague), our team led two night watches. These were all night worship/prayer/intercession times…”

A Racer joins the IHOP intern program, “And with a heart-so-filled-with-joy-it-could-burst, I’m THRILLED to announce that I will be applying to the 3 Month IHOP Atlanta Internship in Georgia”

AIM leader, Gary Black, co-founder of The World Race and G42 Academy promotes IHOP. He also began The Call, with Lou Engle, a NAR false prophet, friend of Bill Johnson of Bethel church and leader at IHOP Pasadena.

Gary writes, We are now, of course, asking the Lord how we can partner together and establish what Lou and the Call are doing, what Mike Bickle and IHOP are doing, and what AIM is doing with the World Race. Imagine a bunch of radical Nazarites planting houses of prayer around the globe through the World Race–come on Church!”

Gary is a man that is in leadership at AIM and G42 currently.  He has hopeful plans to join these organizations together. This is happening already on the World Race.

A testimony is shared here from a young girl, part of IHOP’s intern program coming to realize what she was actually a part of, here is an excerpt.  (We have added links to our similar concerns about AIM.)

A cult? Strong word you might say…and you are correct. It is not a word I use lightly or carelessly to label anything. But much prayer, time and years of research and personal experience have brought me to the conclusion that I can say confidently that the root system–or foundation–that IHOP is built on follows the basic premises and signs of a cult religious group. When I first left IHOP, I went through a severe culture shock that is hard to put into words. When I began studying the signs of cult fallout and the things that cult members go through after leaving a cult, my eyes began to open to what I had been a part of and recently come out of…After 6 years of being out of IHOP I still hold to my position that it is a dangerous place for people’s hearts and I have seen much destruction of families, relationships and marriages of those who have been involved with this movement.

Mike’s primary target and focus is on the young people. His appeals from the pulpit and his well-polished speeches aim at capturing the hearts of America’s youth. Children and youth are not told or encouraged to respect or honor the parents G-d gave them. Instead, wedges are driven between families and a seed of pride, rebellion and elitism gets planted into the hearts of youth when they are told things like the following…

This is a very close paraphrase of what I’ve heard many, many times at One Thing, IHOP conferences and in teachings by leaders:

YOU are called to be on the cutting edge. Come here and join a community of other people who are like you, called to what you’re called to. We understand you. You’ve been mis-understood in the church. You’ve had your wings clipped, your gifts misunderstood. Here you can fulfill your forerunner calling that your family just hasn’t understood about you. You might feel like you don’t fit back home, you’re on the outside, no one understands the fire in you. Well we get it. You are the leaders that G-d is raising up in these end times and you will be kings and queens on the earth—reigning with Him. You were made for this place. IHOP is an incubator for people like you.”

Narcissistic speeches like this instill a sense of pride, arrogance and elitism in the hearts of youth who hear it and it feeds their need for validation and identity. They run to IHOP, leave their families, join internships…hoping that what they’ve heard is true. They go to IHOP looking for identity…instead of finding it in Jesus.

This sounds frighteningly similar to our concerns about AIM.

The emotional manipulation at IHOP is further evidenced by these testimonies, this is provided as examples of similar ministries using and abusing worship to create emotion that is then called the Holy Spirit “moving”. 

This testimony is enlightening and very sad,

“The more leadership responsibility I was given as an intern, the more I got peeks into the “inside”. I saw the outer fringes of the internal operations of how IHOP functioned. I was on an IHOP dance team and sang as a chorus leader on a few worship teams. To dance, I had to follow a specific model that IHOP required. To sing, I had to attend the briefing/de-briefing meetings before and after each worship set where I saw first-hand how carefully controlled that the seemingly “spontaneous” aspects of worship were carefully calculated and often planned ahead of time.”

An article showing some concerns says,

“The major draw of IHOP is experience.  People often come to me citing their experience and go back again and again to experience “God” and the “Spirit” – no different than an emotional high.”

Another tells us,

“The IHOP conferences and events are stage-managed to produce the maximum amount of visual, aural, psychological, sensual and spiritual stimuli—all of which can superficially appear to be revival. But is it biblical revival? …What is perceived as spiritual is in reality soulish, contributing to a euphoric state of altered consciousness from repetitious choruses that follow one upon the other. The mesmerizing effect of the music creates a frame of mind open to suggestion by the subsequent preaching of dominionist teachers who build on the fervor of the moment with messages of future power and glory.

The orchestrated commotion at youth events serves as fertile ground for inculcating a strange and different doctrine—a doctrine that has been taught by IHOP leaders for decades.

“…there is another practice of “presence” that is taking the evangelical world by storm. In the IHOP/NAR the passionate invocation of the “presence” (which they call the “Spirit”) isn’t just done via contemplative meditation. They believe that the “presence” is achieved via the elaborate staging of flashy lighting, noisy music and hypnotic manipulations in the context of what they call “worship.” The clear intent is to create an altered state of consciousness – a spiritual/emotive state in which the participant is susceptible to heretical suggestions, “feels” closer to God, and learns that he/she may even become a god. Thus their “passion” is believed to invoke the “presence” of God… This passion-filled worship involves more than simple singing of hymns or humble prayers and petitions. It incorporates various psychological and sociological techniques to affect the emotions. Key variables are stage-managed in order to create an “atmosphere” of heightened experiences, all said to be of God. Thereby this engineered “passion” claims that it can invoke the “presence” of God.   Source

The testimonies of young people on The World Race have similar elements.  Here are a few comments about worship from Racers, specifically “soaking” worship.  There is NO Biblical model to be found, this has more similarities to Hinduism and New Age practices. We do not need to manufacture experiences of God’s presence, if we are redeemed we always have His presence. (Psalm 139:7, 1 Cor 6:19, 2 Tim 1:14)

Racer “ A few nights ago, we were having a night of soaking worship with the YWAM team that we’re partnering with this month. Soaking worship is pretty much what it sounds like; you listen to worship music and just soak in God’s presence and just be still with Him. Now normally I tend to mentally check out when we do soaking worship…”

Racer, “I had heard some stories about soaking and expected a dozen or so people in a room listening to Hillsong for a couple of hours….This soaking service… is called “The Soaking.” It’s a time of worship and praise and “soaking” in the presence of our Lord and King. But, from my experience it was more like “The Drowning.” … It is such a dramatic experience that remembering it forever is typical and expected. Unlike physical drowning, when I have asked Jesus to drown me in His presence, I long to be back in that place from the second I step out of it. “

Racer, “The middle of the room was left open for those who worshiped through dancing, the sides of room for those to soak, pray, or write, and the front stage had paper and markers for those who felt led to art (prophetic art).”

We do not believe that it is coincidence that these young Racers speak nothing of the Gospel in their testimonies and that these experiences are happening in pagan countries surrounded by Eastern religions whose practices sound eerily similar to what is happening is these “worship” services.

There is also an addictive element to the manipulation.  Here is a bit of information to begin the discussion. “Instead of actually drawing a person closer to God, these occultic practices generate a “counterfeit Holy Spirit experience” which “feels” very real, very profound, and very spiritual.  Actually, when people engage in these practices, what they’re experiencing is spiritual…only, it is not from God.”

We continue in  Part 2.

Here is a commentary on the wackiness of IHOP in more detail if anyone is interested, videos included toward the bottom related to what is discussed on the program.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: