International House of Prayer (IHOPKC)

Leader is facing serious allegations of widespread sexual misconduct over several decades

1999 - present

“What I’ve found is that what is proclaimed from the stage was not implemented in the day-to-day practical expression of Christianity,”  -Jim Hester (former prayer room pastor)

The International House of Prayer (IHOPKC) stands as a unique and controversial church in the landscape of modern religious movements. Founded in 1999 by Mike Bickle, a charismatic leader, IHOPKC quickly distinguished itself with its intense focus on prayer and worship, often involving 24/7 prayer sessions that drew both admiration and skepticism from observers.

Central to the IHOPKC's practices is the concept of continuous prayer. Members are encouraged to engage in unceasing worship, often in shifts, to maintain a perpetual state of prayer. This approach has garnered a significant following, with many drawn to the fervor and dedication displayed. However, critics have raised concerns about the potential for manipulation and the intense demands placed on participants, including allegations of pressuring members into lengthy prayer sessions and financial commitments.

However, it's not just the non-stop worship that has turned heads. IHOPKC has faced criticism for its alleged authoritarian leadership and manipulation. Former members have spoken out, describing the environment as controlling, with immense pressure to conform and dedicate excessive hours to prayer and service, often at the expense of personal health and well-being.

Controversy has also surrounded the group's apocalyptic and prophetic teachings. Bickle and other IHOPKC leaders have been known to emphasize end-time scenarios, often interpreting current events as signs of the impending apocalypse. This focus has been met with criticism, with some arguing that it fosters fear and an unhealthy fixation on the end of the world.

The group's teachings, too, have been a point of contention. IHOPKC espouses a charismatic form of Christianity, focusing on prophecy, divine healing, and the end times. This has led to accusations of the group being a "cult," a claim that IHOPKC vehemently denies. Critics argue that the group's focus on the end times and prophecy can lead to a fear-based theology, while supporters see it as a vital part of their faith.

Some of the most serious allegations against the church involve recent allegations of sexual misconduct by founder Mike Bickle. On October 28, 2023, a group of former IHOPKC leaders published a statement formally accusing Bickle of sexual misconduct towards "several victims" over "several decades." The authors of this statement have pointed to 20 witnesses of these improprieties, and have formally accused Bickle of using manipulation and intimidation to try to cover up his sins. The church has denied many of these accusations and have refused to conduct an independent investigation.

IHOPKC's influence extends beyond its prayer room. It operates a university, the International House of Prayer University, which offers courses in ministry, music, and media. This educational arm works to imbue students with the group's intense prayer-focused ideology, further expanding its reach.

The controversies surrounding IHOPKC are complex, with the organization balancing on a fine line between devout religious practice and extreme behavior. But, despite these controversies, IHOPKC continues to attract a dedicated following. Its emphasis on passionate worship and prayer has resonated with many, even as it remains a subject of debate and scrutiny within the wider religious landscape. The group's future, much like its teachings, is a topic of ongoing discussion and interest among both followers and critics.

Religion: Christianity

Denomination: Evangelical

Founder: Mike Bickle

Founded: 1999

Location: Based in Kansas City, MO