Bethany HicksFeb 06, 2024
In the early 1990s, I was part of a church community that held an annual event known as a presbytery.
The term presbytery has been used in various ways throughout Christian history, but its biblical roots are found in the Greek word “presbyteros,” which means “elders.” During these gatherings, two-to-three itinerant prophets were invited to collectively prophesy over selected individuals within our congregation, people they had never met before. These gatherings were always filled with excitement and hope because the words the prophets shared were often incredibly accurate. It was like receiving a roadmap for the recipient’s future that the entire congregation could attest to and celebrate.
I vividly recall the year when I was 19, and the prophets were coming to town once again. At that time, I was in a transitional phase of my life and seeking to understand more about God's destiny for my life. When my name was called by the pastor, I nervously made my way to the stage and took my seat in what was humorously referred to as the “hot seat” at the center of a circle. Up until that point, I had struggled with doubts about whether I had a purpose in life, feeling somewhat lost and aimless. However, as the prophets began speaking to me, their first words were, “‘You are a person of purpose and destiny,’ says the Lord!” The Lord in His kindness, simultaneously addressed and erased my initial fears of a purposeless life as the prophets continued to call out the amazing destiny that was in my life in Christ Jesus. I was never the same.
One of the key passages associated with the idea of a prophetic presbytery can be found in 1 Timothy 4:14:
"Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you."
From this passage, we can simply define and extract three components of prophetic presbytery as a person, a place, and a thing.
In its simplest form, a presbyter is an elder. Biblically the term referred to both men and women. An individual presbyter is an elder who, when gathered together with other elders, forms a presbytery or a “body of elders.” The qualifications for an overseer outlined in 1 Timothy 3 often align with what we consider to be the qualifications for elders today. Elders typically include seasoned church leaders, prophets, apostles, or leaders from the five-fold ministry.
A presbytery occurs when this group of elders and prophets (the presbyters) intentionally gather in one place to prophesy, impart, and sometimes commission believers. The location is not necessarily important, but the gathering is. During these gatherings, the presbytery calls out and imparts spiritual gifts, direction, graces, and callings over specific individuals.
After someone receives a prophetic word from a presbytery, there should be a follow-up process. This is an important step to partnering and mobilizing what God has just revealed in the presbytery. This is where a team of skilled prophetic processors and local leaders help break down and identify important parts within the prophecy. The processors would look for identity words, promises from God, and practical steps to follow. Processing presbytery level words is particularly useful for prophecies given over churches, cities, regions, and leaders of all types.
Following my personal presbytery experience over thirty years ago, the associate pastor of my church sat down with me. We went through the whole prophetic word carefully. We highlighted words that spoke about who I was, promises God made, and steps I should take. It was because of this presbytery that I decided to go to Bible college where I spent four years earning my bachelors degree in theology. This experience marked my identity and destiny and set me on a path I am forever thankful for.
While there's much more to explore about this topic, I hope this article gives you a basic idea of what we mean at Prophetic Company when we talk about presbytery. We believe that the Lord is rekindling this vital ministry, and we are answering the call to see it revived and restored within the Body of Christ today.
If you’d like to learn more about presbytery, please join us at the Prophetic Summit where we will be modeling the person, place, and thing of presbytery. We will also be processing together prophetic words spoken over Austin, Texas. The Summit offers a time of worship, encounter, impartation, ministry times, biblical teaching, and our practical lab sessions. Find your voice; discover your place at the March 7-9 Prophetic Summit on campus, online, or by replay. Register here.