The executive leadership team (ELT) of International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOPKC) in Kansas City, Missouri, has defended its decision to use a law firm to conduct the independent investigation into its founder, Mike Bickle. Leaders also emphasized they have not cleared Bickle of the allegations against him and acknowledged that the ministry is dealing with “a crisis.”
“IHOPKC has contacted and is in communication with multiple third parties about conducting an independent examination of the allegations presented by the Complaint Group, as well as a review of IHOPKC’s Report on Initial Findings,” said the ELT in an update on Wednesday, Nov. 22. “These third parties include national Christian leaders, journalists, and investigative firms who were involved in #MeToo and investigated the SBC and RZIM.”
“There has been unfounded suspicion and sowed fear around IHOPKC’s choice to utilize law firms to conduct the initial examination of the allegations,” the ELT continued. “However, law firms are routinely involved in the investigation of sexual abuse in accordance with due process—a fundamental part of the justice system and a basic right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”
IHOPKC To Give ‘More Frequent Updates’
IHOPKC is a ministry that aims to spread the gospel in society with a reliance on 24/7 prayer and worship. On Oct. 28, three former ministry leaders published allegations that ministry founder Mike Bickle was guilty of sexual and spiritual abuse; Bickle subsequently stepped away from leadership.
In a statement on Oct. 29, IHOPKC said, “Our leadership team takes these allegations very seriously…We are engaging with outside parties to assess and arbitrate these allegations.”
On Nov. 5, the IHOPKC ELT announced that Bickle would be taking an indefinite leave of absence and that the ministry had hired national law firm Stinson LLP to investigate the allegations against him. A number of people pushed back against that decision, with some expressing concern that the law firm would prioritize protecting IHOPKC over defending survivors.
A petition on Change.org that was started by “IHOPKC Survivors” urged IHOPKC to hire “Guideposts” or GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) “to conduct a true third-party investigation into the sexual abuse allegations and the systemic environment at IHOPKC.”
Online, a clip circulated of a Feb. 28 interview with Rev. Dr. Esau McCaulley and attorney and survivor advocate Rachael Denhollander in which Denhollander explained why she believes it is best to avoid law firms when evaluating sexual abuse allegations in Christian organizations. One of the reasons Denhollander gave was that it is “very difficult for an attorney to switch out of liability mode into transparency and truth mode.” Instead, she recommended “ethics and compliance firms.”