Fanfare vs. Fruit

Posted: January 18, 2010 in IHOP

Many evaluate the success of a “ministry” using 2 forms of measurement:

1. How many people are a part of it?
2. How much money is it making?

However, this is not the criteria by which G-d measures. He is not one focuses on the outward appearance of things but rather looks inward…at the heart and motivation behind them. Since He is the only one who can look that deeply, He is the only one who sees all aspects perfectly. The primary way, scripture tells us, that we can discern whether something is righteous or pagan, authentic or pseudo, pure or corrupt is by the fruit that it produces.

What is fruit? It sounds simple enough but it seems that many believers have forgotten almost entirely what fruit is because it’s something that gets swept under the rug and excused more than its held in check and tested. Fruit, put simply, is the visible (external) evidence produced by internal decisions. It’s like the exhaust from the spiritual tailpipe, the reputation established. It’s the after-effect of action, the outcome, the outward manifestation of inner character. Fruit is the stuff that dangles on the end of the branch of your life and ministry. It’s the part people see and the part that will largely determine how you are perceived, by those who are witnesses of the fruit of your life.

Sadly, I believe that what seems to get more recognition today is fanfare…not fruit. The louder the volume, the bigger the TV screens, the bigger the bookstore, the more ear-tickling the sermons, the more mechanical the interactions are, the “wilder” the service is, the more it seems to get a check mark of approval. However, this is not fruit and not the means by which we are to assess whether true fruit exists. It is beneath all of this external fluff and fanfare that real fruit/evidence can be observed.

IHOP draws a lot of fanfare. It gets a LOT of attention…both positive and negative. They are on God TV, have financial supporters all over the world, a full (and continually growing) staff of interns, worship teams, speaking staff, media crew, etc. Yet as I look back on my experiences there, the fanfare worked hard to cover up the fruit that was missing. The high lasted for a long time and the spiritual hangover of that place took time to wear off. IHOP has carefully constructed an environment that manufactures spiritual highs and sells them at the price of an internship or conference registration. They come in book and CD form or you can get them virtually through their live web-streams. They seem “successful” because they know how to harness the power of addiction. They can draw a large following because they know how to appeal to people’s emotions and magnetically draw them into false views of the nature of G-d and the true gospel.

  1. Liz says:

    I appreciate the candid way that you express truth. What you write makes me stop and think. Thank you for taking time to share your heart.

  2. Annunk says:

    When I was young, there were no computers. No cell phones. No iPods. No cable TV. No color on the one set they did own. Everyone didn’t ‘own’ their own car. People would sit out on their front porch or back patio at night and neighbors would walk over just to visit. Watch an old Andy Griffith show – that was fairly close to what life was like as far as life’s pace.

    Flower power! “Mary Jane” Hippies! Then the astronauts landed on the moon. Roe v. Wade and abortion was legalized. Within 2 years, computers were starting to make their way into schools. Cable TV becomes “the way” to have more than 3 stations to choose from. Life’s pace was picking up speed.

    Fast forward. Now nearly everyone owns a car, a cell phone, an iPod, a laptop, more than one TV – and “multi tasking” becomes the norm. We still have 7 days in a week but now we have twice as much going on to fit into those 7 days. Life’s pace has just gone from a trot to a gallop.

    So where does that leave us spiritually?

    Everything we’ve come to expect in life is fast. Fast downloads, fast food, fast car washes, fast cars – everything is “instant pudding”. We’ve gone from the Andy Griffith generation to a generation that is impatient – hurry up! or Selfish- I want that and I want it right now! or a “me” generation – “this thing or experience is just for me!”

    This is where IHOP comes in. At IHOP, you’re told: YOU are the chosen ones. YOU are FORErunners for Christ. YOU are head and shoulders above the “church goer” generation. YOU have something better. It’s OK to pray the way you’ve been doing it, but there’s something better. Something where you can FEEL God. You can really “press in” and be right up there with Him. Mike Bickle said there is no place in the Bible where Contemplative prayer is mentioned, plotted or explained in any way, shape or form. But let’s all do it anyway.

    Someone tell me – where does Jesus fit into this? I absolutely know for sure – Jesus told us ‘walk by faith, not by sight’. ‘Lying spirits, false prophets, lying signs and wonders’ would all happen before his return. Major deception – that if it were possible, it would fool even the very elect.

    We are so close to His return. So close.

  3. Excellent new material as usual, thanks!

  4. Annunk says:

    I think the thing that really struck me when I visited the IHOP prayer room – where everyone goes for their time to listen to Mike Bickle – is that there were about 2 people the age of “baby boomers” – really only one. The rest were upper teens, young 20’s and young 30’s. But that was the bulk of the people’s age who were there. Almost all in their young to middle 20’s.

    The other thing that struck me was here they are in the “prayer” room, music playing up front and people sitting in chairs – that was fine – only I didn’t see anyone praying! Several sitting with their feet up, supporting laptops. Several people reading but the REST of them were texting.

    Comon’ guys. Texting? Working on the ‘ol computer? Reading? What’d you guys in IHOP decide about 24/7 prayer? I mean come on.

    • Ariel says:

      Very true…that happened all the time when I was there and is still occurring. When you’re assigned to “mandatory” hours on end you find ways to entertain yourself after a while when the monotony of the music makes you feel like you’re on a nauseating carnival spinning tea cup ride that you can’t get off of.

  5. Hadar says:

    Please read this passage thoughtfully. 
    Matt 7:13 “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; 14 but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves! 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit. 19 Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire! 20 So you will recognize them by their fruit. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. 22 On that Day, many will say to me, `Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them to their faces, `I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!

    ‘A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit’…how then can people still stick up for the likes of Bickle, Joyner, Bentley etc? Interesting how this is tied in with false prophets and those saying ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ 

    It seems to be pretty straight forward and very black and white, a tree doesnt produce mixed fruit. All I can figure is that people do not read the Word of G-d, and prefer the broad easy path of experiential spirituality over the Truth of His Word.    

    • Ariel says:

      I agree with you Hadar. Many do not know how to test fruit and watch out for false prophets. It seems that what many call “false prophets” are those outside of the faith…such as Muslim prophets or those from other religions. So all who claim to be believers and have prophetic words are automatically endorsed as being true. Scripture is pretty clear that you discern the fruit of a prophet not by their religious affiliation but by the evidence of trust and fruit of that person’s life. If someone is a true prophet then G-d will not allow any of their words to fall to the ground. Deut 13:3 demonstrates that G-d tests his people by how they respond to prophetic words. In Deut 18:20 G-d deals pretty seriously and soberly with false prophets. If G-d doesn’t cause a word to happen, it’s clear that it’s not a true word. Although “When a prophet speaks in the name of ADONAI, and the prediction does not come true -that is, the word is not fulfilled -then ADONAI did not speak that word. The prophet who said it spoke presumptuously; you have nothing to fear from him.” Deuteronomy 18:22 CJB

      However, when IHOP only gives ear-tickling words like “you are called to be a worshipper” or “you have a gift of mercy” then these words are difficult to “test” for accuracy. We are all to be worshipers if we are followers of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). The words of the prophets in scripture were very specific and detailed and what they spoke G-d caused to happen. Most of what is considered to be prophesy today is full of pride-bolstering, narcissistic words that I have come to refer to as “personality prophesies” spoken just to make that person feel loved or special. Flattery isn’t prophesy and to tell someone what their personality is or what their strengths or gifts are is not what prophesy is. No where is it recorded in scripture that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Yeshua or others spoke words to people to make them “feel” special. Their words changed nations and provoked people to repentance.

  6. Diane says:

    Sorry about the typo. The series title is “Defining the Believer’s Biblical Call to Judge”

  7. Diane says:

    This is the first time I have commented at your site, but I have been a reader for a few months now. I want to thank you for boldly sharing your story. I have dear friends who are caught up in the IHOP movement, and your blog has been very informative. Keep up the great work!

    On the subject of fruit, I am reminded of a 3 part series of articles by Bob DeWaay called “Defining the Beliver’s Biblical Call to Judge.” In part 2, he addresses the issue of fruit and points out that personality traits are not fruit (ie- they are such nice/sweet/sincere people), the number of one’s followers is not fruit, and signs and wonders are not fruit. Such important points to remember! If anyone wants to read the series, you can search the title above at their website

    ~Blessings to you~

    • Ariel says:

      Diane, thanks so much for taking time to write. I appreciate your feedback and the link you shared. I will check it out. Abundant blessings!