The prophet is another ministry in the fivefold functions that has courted much controversy over the last century. And yet throughout the history of the people of God, prophets have been a major way through which God speaks to His people.
Much maligned and often misunderstood, the function of the prophet is to faithfully bring God’s people back to God’s vision. This can happen in many different ways, but most simply it involves bringing a revelation of the truth about God and what He has said in order to realign people who have wandered from that plumbline.
Even the New Testament guidelines for prophetic ministry (that it should encourage, exhort and edify) are essentially placing the truth about who God is and what He says about a situation in front of people so that they can respond by affirming this truth and rejecting any lies they have believed.
The voice of a prophet is a call to covenant faithfulness—an invitation to hear God’s voice to us and a challenge to obey what we hear.
Now, prophets can minister through speech, art, music, song, dreams or prophetic actions. They will often speak out against injustice, calling us back to a biblical standard for kingdom justice.
They might be any age, with or without an education, in positions of church leadership or part of the Body at large. They usually love being alone with God (so it is not unusual to come across prophets who are a little socially awkward around people!).
Prophets may speak of things that have not yet happened, but they are equally likely to speak of God’s perspective on what has happened or is happening.
However, prophets should ultimately be bringers of hope, carrying the heart of God to His people. Even if they are calling sinful people back to God in repentance, the hopefulness of their message will be the steadfast love and mercy of God. There really is no place for the “prophets of doom and gloom” amongst God’s people.
Prophets need to be connected to apostles so they don’t simply become unattached critics. Prophets love time by themselves in God’s Presence, so they need to be pastored in healthy relationships. Prophets see God’s perspective on a situation or person and call it out bringing hope and encouragement. Apostles and prophets are both heavenward focused.
There are so many good resources available today on the subject of the prophetic and prophetic ministry (take Pastor David Oh’s book and material by Kris Vallotton for instance). As this function has begun to be restored to the Church at large, there have been many mistakes to learn from. But remember: All mistakes are a learning opportunity. As I said earlier, to react to an error with another error doesn’t move anyone closer to the truth!
All these five functions are given to bring unity and maturity to the Body, equipping the saints for them to do the work of ministry. So, too, this is the goal of the prophet.