With the news that the International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) leadership team has asked ministry founder Mike Bickle to step away due to accusations of sexual and spiritual abuse, calls are rising for an independent investigation into the allegations.
As ChurchLeaders reported, Bickle, 68, recently agreed to an indefinite leave from public ministry. On Nov. 5, IHOPKC’s executive leadership team announced that Bickle is stepping away until they “complete a thorough examination of the allegations and inquiry of the circumstances.”
To conduct that investigation, the team said it is using national law firm Stinson, LLP. The firm has already begun its work, according to IHOPKC leaders, and part of that work involves assessing the “merit” of the allegations.
In response, some people are issuing calls for an investigation that is more independent, ideally by an organization with church-related experience.
Petition: ‘IHOPKC Needs to Investigate With Integrity’
On Change.org, a group of “former staff, students, and dedicated members” of IHOPKC launched a petition urging the ministry to involve GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) for “a true third-party investigation.” The petition notes that “the gravity of these allegations” cannot be adequately addressed “by parties that may carry the appearance of vested interests or potential biases.”
The petition also recommends that people who have information about the situation contact local law enforcement “instead of the pastoral care team, given the conflict of interest and bias that team would have in the current situation, especially for those who may have allegations to disclose but have not come forward yet.” Within one day, the petition had more than 1,500 signatures.
Allen Hood, IHOPKC’s former associate director, also has urged ministry leaders to work with “an independent, third-party organization that specializes in handling allegations of abuse in a church context.” Pointing to abuse scandals within other churches, denominations, and groups, Hood said an independent process “is the only pathway for a godly and fair process for all parties involved.”
Rachael Denhollander: ‘Steer Away From Law Firms’
While speaking with New Testament scholar Esau McCaulley in February, abuse survivor, attorney, and victim advocate Rachael Denhollander described why she likes to “steer away from law firms, by and large” for church-related sexual abuse investigations.
Speaking as a lawyer who works frequently with other lawyers, Denhollander said it’s “very difficult for an attorney to switch out of liability mode into transparency and truth mode.” She added, “Law school flips your moral compass on its head” because of how it teaches people to think about “fiduciary responsibility” and even about people in general.
Instead of law firms, Denhollander said, she prefers to look for “ethics and compliance firms” to conduct third-party investigations into abuse allegations. She encouraged organizations to find a “trauma-informed” firm with investigators who understand abuse dynamics, protect and respect victims, and recommend next steps and improvements.