Building a Church on a Prophetic Foundation (with Simon Holley)

Simon Holley is an apostolic leader who leads Kings Arms Church in Bedford and is part of the team that heads up the Catalyst Network of churches in Newfrontiers. In this Broadcast, Simon talks about the importance of having God's prophetic voice as the foundation as we build our churches.


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A Passion For the Prophetic

  • As Simon was thinking about what kind of church he wanted to build at Kings Arms, he longed for the kind of thing Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14, but realised there was a long way to go. 
  • One year at the Brighton leaders conference, Simon felt God saying 'I am surrounding you with prophets because they need you and you need them.'
  • Often prophetic people can be misunderstood, labelled and/or and don't fit easily into our churches. 
  • Part of the job of church leaders is creating environments where prophetic people can survive and thrive and bring all that they have to bring.
  • Sometimes when prophetic people see something it can be more helpful to use the information they give rather than necessarily speaking it out.

Theological Framework

  • Recognise that prophets are people, not activities - they are a gift God has given to the church and they have a part to play in the community.
  • Recognise that prophets often work best in community with other prophets (E.g. Elisha with his band of prophets, the prophets in Acts).
  • Prophets need to be around people with other gifts who can balance them and who they can balance.
  • Prophets help to strategically shape the church.

Reevaluating Our View of Prophets

  • We can often be cynical and have stereotypical views of prophets. 
  • We need to understand the difference between prophets and prophecy - there is a blanket gift that God has released into the church, but there is also the ministry of prophet.
  • Value the people, not just their contributions - a lot of prophets feel like they are just used for their gift and people only get in touch with them when they want a word. 
  • We need to decide as leaders what it is that we want to build. 

Pray For Increase

  • You need to start praying for an increase in the prophetic.
  • The opposite of abuse of the prophetic is not no use but right use. 
  • At Kings Arms, they didn't have anyone with the gift of Words of Knowledge but they started praying for it and stepped out in faith with words. Over time they began to get more and more accurate.

Culture of Honour

  • Honour one another above yourself - in the Bible the word grace is never used in human-to-human contexts, but honour is spoken of lots of times.
  • Teach people to live out of their identity.
  • The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward. 
  • The prophetic gift calls out what only God sees. 

Create a Culture Where It's Safe to Take Risks

  • Stepping out in any gift involves risk. 
  • Human tend to be risk-averse. 
  • This isn't about creating space for recklessness, but for risk.
  • As leaders, be ready to share stories about when you don't get it right - this will make it safe for others to fail as well.
  • Many churches are too boring and predictable for prophetic people to thrive - at Kings Arms they do treasure hunting, prophetic booths, dream interpretations and other things that involve risk but that stretch prophetic people. 
  • Having a prophecy night on an Alpha course can be really big for people. 

Create and Develop Team

  • Create a context for prophetic people to gather - and as the senior leader gather with them.
  • Create a context for them to develop.
  • Create pathways for prophetic stuff to come in the the senior leadership team and pray it through, discuss it and (where appropriate) act on it.

Q&A

1. How do we demonstrate bringing in the power of God in the beginning of a church plant?
  • It you don't have anyone with the gift, pray and ask God for the gift and then go for it.
  • This will encourage others to step out and will attract people with the gift.
  • God wants all of his people to prophesy.
2. How Important is it to Share Stories?
  • Very important - share stories of successes and stories of failures.
  • You can also import stories from other places (especially if they are not too distant).
3. How do we create this prophetic environment without overwhelming the church plant? 
4. What are the best ways to balance prophecy with Scripture?
  • Teach that prophecy must be weighed - and one of the ways this happens is weighing it against Scripture.
  • Sometimes (especially with bigger decisions) you want prophecies to be confirmed in several ways. 
  • It is good to weigh things in community as a group of prophets. 
5. Should We Help Prophets to Change Their Terminology To Avoid Cynicism?
  • It depends on the context and culture.
  • In the West on a Sunday morning, mentioning the Holy Spirit doesn't tend to create cynicism, but often mentioning the angelic does. 
  • If as the leader you can see that the words are creating cynicism rather than faith, then part of the leadership role is finding a language that will create faith. 
6. How Do You Walk The Line Between Addressing Cynicism and Encouraging the Prophetic?
  • On Sundays we are looking for momentum in the worship time and helping people come into the presence of God.
  • Too many prophetic words can actually break the momentum - you need to consider whether the word will build or stop that momentum in deciding whether now is the time to bring it. 
  • Paul's guideline tends to be two or three words - this is a good number.
  • There's no shame in a prophet sharing a word with the leaders that doesn't end up being brought.
7. What Advice Do You Have For Bringing Difficult Words (such as Nathan speaking to David)?
  • Words about 'hatches, matches and dispatches' can cause a lot of pain - Simon doesn't tend to allow such words (unless the prophet has a very mature gift and proven track record). 
  • Ask the prophet to consider whether they need to bring it or whether they should just pray into the situation that God has revealed.
  • The prophet should be doing it in partnership with a leader, and it should be done in a humble way (no 'thus saieth the Lord').
  • Understand that the prophecy could be wrong and bringing it in that way is much less likely to do damage.
  • There is revelation, interpretation and application - often the revelation may be right but the interpretation and application could be off. 
8. How do you create a safe environment for prophets to step out in a church plant?
  • Do Sunday evening training sessions.
  • Try 'blindfold prophecy' - it can sometimes be hard to prophesy when you know the situations of everyone in the group.
  • Try prophesying at Alpha - and then sharing a word on a Sunday.
9. How do you stretch people with a prophetic gift?
  • Ask them to share details that they couldn't possibly know naturally.
  • Invite them to teach others. 
10. As you stepped out into the prophetic, were there any areas of your ministry that were left behind?
  • No.
  • As leaders, you need to decide what you think Sundays are for. At King's Arms the conclusion they reached was that Sundays are for God to meet with his people, but they should make it as accessible as possible to outsiders.
  • Spread the prophetic through every area of church life - and make sure you are giving good leadership to it. 
  • Remember the things that you think are weird might be different to the things your guests thinks are weird.
11. Can prophets lead churches or church plants effectively?
  • Yes - and like all leaders they will need to get people with other gifts around them. 
  • Balance comes from the team.
  • if you don't have a strong prophetic gift in your group, bring one in until you can raise up your own.

Recommended Resources

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