We are excited to share more powerful keys from Ben Armstrong, the Prophetic Ministry Director at Bethel Church, to help you develop a strong prophetic culture in your school of supernatural ministry!
In part two of this blog series, Ben provides insight on how to help students continually grow in their prophetic gift, prophesy outside of school or church settings, and other pieces of wisdom that will support your students’ development.
We pray you would be further empowered as a spiritual father or mother to your students as your receive from Ben’s leadership and experience. May God richly bless you to create a safe, healthy school environment that unlocks your students’ destinies to see the kingdom come to earth!
What are some ways you are challenging students to go to the next level in the prophetic?
We are in a season where God is highlighting words of knowledge. The prophetic is usually futuristic while words of knowledge are pre-information. We see this in the Book of John when Philip and Nathaniel are called by Jesus. In this story, Nathaniel walks up to Jesus and He tells Nathaniel, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47, NIV). That wasn’t a prophetic word; it was information about Nathaniel’s life. Nathaniel asked Jesus how He already knew him. Jesus told Nathaniel that He saw him under the fig tree. This is another word of knowledge and it caused Nathaniel to believe.
Words of knowledge create belief. They are complementary to the prophetic. When you get a word of knowledge for a person and then a prophetic word, they all of the sudden have faith for that word. So we encourage our students to get words of knowledge. We ask them, “Who is God highlighting to you today? What are they going to be wearing?” We ask them to press in for specific details.
Another way we are encouraging people to grow in the prophetic is through intercession. Intercession is so important because when we choose to pray we are telling God, “What’s important to You is important to me.” When we do that, we prove ourselves as faithful, and God trusts those who are intimate with them.
We have a strategic prayer initiative we launched with our students. Whether they are in basic or advanced prophetic, we believe our students should be focused on praying for a period of time; and it’s targeted prayers. We have found that prophetic people often jump from thing to thing (not focused on a single person or sphere), which doesn’t create a discipline in their lives. There’s something important about the discipline of choosing to pray over someone or an area for nine months.
For example, we ask students to pick a city entity to pray for. That could be a grocery store, the police department, or perhaps the hospital. We also ask them to choose a leader from that entity to pray for and tell them to ask God, “What are you saying about these people? How can I pray for their family? What can I pray for their business?” Though we don’t want students to go and tell that leader that they are praying for them (we want to be discreet), they can still follow that person and the organization they are leading. Over time, they discover if their prayers are successful.
We also ask students to pick a U.S. state (and the state’s leader) as well as a nation (and the nation’s leader). They could also pick an actor or leader in their sphere of influence. We encourage them to get specific details about those people. If a student says they are seeing a house as they pray for someone, we challenge them to find out the address of the house, the color of the house, or other information. We encourage them to go more in depth!
We have seen so much breakthrough through this prayer initiative. Students are finding that they get more prophetic words, breakthrough, even salvations, through interceding as a discipline. We have even had students discover through the news that what they have been praying for has come to pass or that specific information they received about a person was true. It solidifies and validifies the prophetic gift in their lives.
What is one of your favorite activations for students?
I have a favorite activation I use with groups that haven’t experienced the prophetic before. I will tell them that I am meeting with two influential people (a male and female), and I would like them to write prophetic words for these influencers. More specifically, I will have the guys get a word for the male influencer and have the ladies get a word for the female influencer. I also communicate with the group that I will tell them who these influencers are after they write down their prophetic words because I want to challenge them.
I encourage the group to ask God, “What season is this person in right now? Are there significant colors for them? Is there something significant you want to say about their spouses, family, or their job? How do you feel about them?” These questions help spark the prophetic for the group. Also, I give them about 10-15 minutes to write down their prophetic word. At the end of that time, I tell them to sign their names at the bottom and date it.
Here’s the kicker. I ask the group to look at their prophetic words and then tell them, “The influencers that I am going to meet with are actually you all. You’re the people these prophetic words are for.”
What’s so interesting is that the group will write something about someone else that they would never write about themselves. More often than not, students write a word that is spot on for their own life and season. Many even weep and go through a Sozo-type deliverance through this activation.
The lesson I am teaching through this exercise is this: if you can’t get a prophetic word for yourself, how can you get a prophetic word for others? The Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:31). The group also learns that they don’t have to wait for a prophetic word from someone else. They can get a word from God for their lives. I have seen breakthrough happen through this activation in multiple cultures and age groups. It’s powerful!
What are you doing to prepare students to use prophecy outside of the church and in their spheres of influence?
In advanced prophetic, we talk a lot about understanding the environment and culture we are prophesying in, and using language that relates or fits. When I travel and go to a nation that doesn’t understand my English language, I have to be careful about the words I use because not all of them are translatable. I tell students to use language that’s appropriate.
For instance, if I am meeting with a business person, I don’t say, “God is giving you a new wineskin.” He or she would wonder what that means and perhaps even wonder if I had been drinking [Ben laughs]. Instead, I would say, “I see God giving you a new operating system. He is redoing some structures in you.”
When I prophesy in these settings, I use language that is easily understood. If I use “churchy language,” I limit my ability to reach people.
We teach our students how to be relatable and give them opportunities to practice. For example, we have them prophesy over businessmen and women that are part of Heaven in Business (Bethel Church ministry). We tell them not to say something like, “God’s going to ‘whack’ you.” That could be hurtful if a person was abused by someone.
Also, we ask students not communicate to certain groups that they are prophesying over them. Instead, we tell students to just become encouragers. We tell them to get outside of their school community and practice with language that is extremely positive and uplifting to others. And if ever they encounter a problem where they are, such as in the workplace, we remind them that they are there to help bring a solution.
We know that God sent His Son to save the world. And the Bible says Jesus was slain before the foundations of the world (Revelation 13:8). What does that mean? Before there was a problem, God already made provision. He is not afraid of problems because He has created a solution for each one. That’s the truth we get to tap into! If someone that is prophetic is in a difficult environment, I encourage them to stay and be part of the solution.
What are some essential keys to creating a safe environment for students to practice and grow in the prophetic?
First of all, we believe it’s crucial to tell students that we are going to give them feedback as leaders, but we are not going to punish them. The only time we ask students not to take risks and prophesy is if they are continually breaking the boundaries we have created for them.
As leaders, our place is to empower people and to do the work of the ministry.
The role of the prophet is to equip the saints to prophesy. My job as a leader is to instill vision and heart in students, empower them, and give feedback when their gifts are hurting others.
One of our kids has a strong gift of discernment, even at an early age. She could read people’s thoughts and emotions well. As she was growing up, I had to help her learn how to use her gift properly. One day, my wife wasn’t feeling very beautiful. She didn’t say it out loud, but was thinking it.
My daughter went to my wife and asked her if she could have something. Mom said, “No,” and my daughter didn’t get her way. My daughter read my wife’s thoughts and emotions and said, “You’re ugly.” She used her discernment and tried to manipulate her mom to get her way. I heard this happening and asked my daughter to stop. I told her, “We never use our gift to get our way or hurt other people. That’s a perversion of your gift.”
As leaders, our jobs aren’t to control people and tell them a list of everything not to do. However, we put boundaries around them to direct their gift. As a father to my daughter, I guide her gift to thrive and not get perverted. I teach her where that gift works and where it doesn’t work.
There are a lot of prophetic people that didn’t have fathers and mothers to guide their gift. As a result, it got perverted and hurt people. They never were given good feedback; they experienced rejection from others, which led them to hide and disconnect from community.
To raise up sons and daughters who use their gift rightly, we do the prophetic in community. We praise people when they get it right and get it wrong; we don’t punish; we seek to first understand what’s in their hearts when they make a mistake; we help guide and direct them.
As a leader, how do you continue to take risks and grow in the prophetic?
What things I ask my students to do to grow in the prophetic, I do myself. I challenge myself in the same ways I am challenging them. If anything, I am just doing it in front of larger groups of people. My prophetic shows up a little different than my students because I am a high-level, prophetic dreamer.
At the last prophetic conference, I had a dream about a woman who had some sort of accident and had a bandage on her head. When I shared the word with the conference attendees, it released a corporate breakthrough for healing. Soon after, I learned that I had actually had a dream about someone at the conference!
After I shared the word, a lady came up to me and said she was the woman in the dream. At first, I didn’t think it was her because the woman in the dream had a shaved head and a bandage; she had been in a car accident. The lady from the conference said she had been in an accident seven years ago; they had to shave her head and bandage it up. I decided to put my hand over head to cover her hair. Suddenly, I realized it was her! She was healed that day.
God speaks to me a lot through dreams as well as Scripture. I ask God every year, “What is the Scripture for the broader church for this year?” I will preach that word and find out if it’s from God based on the people respond. That’s how I push myself. Also, whenever I feel afraid to do something, that’s an indicator I need to push past fear and go after it because fear can’t run my life.
What other advice would you offer leaders that are training students in the prophetic?
Be patient with the process. Remember, your environment doesn’t have to be like ours. What people see at Bethel and BSSM is 30 years in the making. It started in a little town called Weaverville; a town of 3,500 people and a church of 150-200. For those leaders who are in a small setting or just starting out, be patient during the journey. Learn and grow as a family together and create a safe, healthy environment where people can be trained to use the prophetic gift.
When kids learn to ride a bike, we give them training wheels; those wheels are the boundaries to keep them from crashing. After some time, we take off those training wheels and we hold onto the bike as they steer, and keep their balance. Eventually, when they are ready, we let them ride on their own. We don’t expect them to get it right away and we encourage them in the process of learning.
This process is just like training people in the prophetic. If you remain patient and journey with them, you will be successful! You will train believers to powerfully walk in the prophetic gift in their lives!
To learn more from Ben Armstrong, look out for his Advanced Prophetic Ministry Training (BSSM class) that will be featured in our BSSM curriculum through a new online platform. Stay tuned for more details!
- Prophetic Personalities by Havilah Cunnington
- Creating a Thriving Prophetic Culture with Ben Armstrong by BSSM School Planting
- Staff Resources Pick: Prophetic Training by BSSM School Planting
- 2016 Bethel Prophetic Conference
- Bethel’s Prophetic Network