Why This Is Our Last Onething Conference for Some Years
by Mike Bickle
Dear IHOPKC family and friends,
I have released a few statements in the past couple of weeks regarding my conviction of our need for a “reset” at IHOPKC, in the prayer and prophetic movement, and beyond. My heart behind this reset was to prioritize encountering Jesus in a fresh and deeper way. I began asking the Lord to speak to our leadership team about a new way to approach the Onething conference this year. Little did I realize all that the reset would entail.
For 20 years, IHOPKC has sustained a 24/7 expression of prayer with worship from our missions base in Kansas City. This daily process is both beautiful to the Lord and satisfying to the soul, yet it is also rigorous from a human perspective because it involves many moving parts and complicated dynamics. When I consider the sacrifice and sweat equity behind this non-stop flow of worship and prayer, it deeply moves my heart with gratitude. I am so grateful for the 16,000 people who have been engaged with us in a full-time way over the last 20 years—some for many years and others for a few months. I am also very grateful for the many longstanding friends and supporters that have loved and blessed us over the years. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Let me quickly add a few more thoughts about our journey. For the last 2–3 years, I have spent much time asking the Lord for His wisdom and leadership to strengthen us in several areas where we are weak and deficient as a ministry. I sensed this to be both a local and global reality, to varying degrees, but was mainly focused on our local expression. This sense of deficiency has not been easy to fully define, much less quantify, but it left me unsettled and with a sense of urgency for more of Him and for a greater alignment with His leadership. I know that He has MORE for us.
After earnestly asking the Lord what it meant, I received part of the Lord’s answer last month (Sept. 19–22) when 1,000 Chinese leaders visited us to celebrate our 19-year anniversary. This mostly unplanned, Holy Spirit “homecoming” gathering triggered a surprisingly deep heart response in many across our base. Honestly, I was caught off guard by the intensity of emotion that was stirred at every level of our ministry—in our homes, staff, and church family.
I’m now convinced this longing resides deep in the Church at large, albeit still undefined (as it was for me). Many inside and outside the prayer and prophetic movement, and even within our staff, have been saying and sensing similar things for many months, perhaps even years, but it wasn’t until our Chinese brothers and sisters came that we gained more understanding. It was a breakthrough moment for me, personally, and for our IHOPKC community. I can now say with confidence that something has shifted in our corporate soul—certainly in my own. The simple, profound result is this: it is no longer optional, but imperative, that we focus on going deep in God and growing together as family. Said another way, these must become one reality.
Locally, we have many who have loved Jesus and loved others well—we have a beautiful history together. Yet not everyone was enjoying our corporate journey—many felt discounted, left out, and left behind. That is not okay with me. The Lord has been emphasizing to us in this season that “there is a place at the family table for all of us.”
Slowly, unintended gaps have developed between our heart connection with Jesus and one another amidst the busyness of our lives. These gaps are no longer tolerable for me and our leadership team. We must all go deeper in God than ever before, and we must go deeper TOGETHER as a family.
I and others on our leadership team have asked the forgiveness of our spiritual family here in Kansas City for not pausing in a real, meaningful way—long enough to assess our family’s need and desire for a deeper sense of belonging together. The response of our community has been so gracious. Many have expressed their forgiveness and grace to me, as well as their enthusiasm to reengage in our journey together with a sense of hope and adventure for the multiple facets of this reset.
This conviction and the new reality forming on our base have joyfully led me to propose some radical changes to further position us in grace as a family of lovesick worshipers of Jesus. To that end, resetting Onething was a good start, but it wasn’t enough. So, here in our 20th year of 24/7 prayer with worship, our senior leadership has unanimously agreed to put a “pause” on our annual conferences and various other events and activities for the next several years (at this time, we are not sure how long this “pause” will continue, nor which activities it will eventually affect).
Therefore, this will be our last Onething conference for the foreseeable future.
The reason is simple: we need time to forge a deeper connection with the Lord, with a renewed zeal and love for Jesus and one another in the robust, raw, real context of family. We want to grow in a deeper vibrancy in our spirit, to receive and share deep insights on the beauty of Jesus, and to sing new songs with a renewed love. Our vertical love must flourish like never before, but equal to it is the need for a deep love for one another. And that all comes down to time to focus on relationships.
For the last 18 years, the four days of Onething in December have represented a minimum of four months and multiplied thousands of man-hours of time drawn from every department here at our missions base. We have enthusiastically and gratefully given our hearts over these years so that the Onething conference could serve as a resource and a connection point for many of our friends involved in the prayer movement from across the nations, but that kind of time commitment has come at a cost to our local family. It may sound contradictory, but the Onething conference is emphatically not the problem. Far from it! We honor the many sacrifices and volunteer hours that have been given from our amazing shuttle drivers to our dynamic worship leaders, and are thankful for the thousands of friends who have come to Kansas City each year. We are grateful for the manifold blessings Onething has brought to hundreds of thousands over two decades. Even so, we received a prophetic word many years ago (it is dear to us), which says this: “Our safety lies in drawing close together.” We feel that word pressing on us in a special way in this season.
For me and my leadership team, the opportunity to “tend to home” in real, measurable, focused ways is of prime importance in this next extended season. This relational focus will be critical to proactively preparing for the days to come—both in the blessings of great revival and in the unprecedented pressures that will also surely come. We want to trim our lamps, get fresh oil, and return to the centrality of Jesus in our affections, as highlighted in the Lord’s comments on Mary of Bethany’s lifestyle of adoration: “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part” (Lk. 10:42).
This re-simplifying of our purpose is vital if we hope to renew our ministry culture from the inside out, but an equal emphasis is that we must also see and discover one another in this context of divine affection. We must think like family, not just intercessors on a mission or stewards of a conference ministry.
So what’s next? We’re still figuring that out, but I have a feeling that this is only the beginning. Equally important is what hasn’t changed: the Global Prayer Room and 24/7 prayer with worship will continue, and grow stronger as a result, as will the live webstream. Nothing about our core operation or staff or mission changes. We are actually greatly encouraged, yet we cannot deny that the Lord just gave us an unexpected heart surgery, so we are leaning in to intentionally create greater space for whatever else He might want to say and do. Trimming the non-essentials is essential to prospering the essentials. I want to recognize the many young people that have served on staff from our early years who are now parents of teens themselves—and another wave of young people is coming. Thus, again, the urgent need is for a reset.
I apologize for the disruption this may bring to some who have regularly attended the Onething conference for years. I assure you, we haven’t forgotten you. We want to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership on every level, privately and publicly, but right now that means more time to relate and talk with one another, even as we continue talking to the Lord. This is a time for generations to walk together in wholeness, sharing their joys and pains; for families to prosper and walk in our identity as spiritual fathers and mothers, looking to the ultimate destiny and well-being of our sons and daughters. These are just a few things I believe the Lord is adding to the essential chemistry of 24/7 prayer with worship over the next few months and years. Although we do not plan to host any conferences for several years, yet we will obey the Spirit’s leading if He calls us to gather people for fasting and prayer in light of a crisis in our nation, or in Israel, or on an international scale, etc. And we will still have some smaller gatherings aimed at strengthening the Mary-of-Bethany lifestyle (and the intercessory missionary calling) and our family connection with our beloved family—those locally and abroad. We are not sure how to best do this at this time, but we are open to anything that the Spirit may show us that will enhance a deeper connection with Jesus and one another.
For us, reset means that we are giving the IHOPKC family (and you!) “permission” to throw ourselves into more wholehearted love than ever before. We will, no doubt, have more to say in the near future, as well as at our last Onething conference, this year. These are truly momentous days, but the best is definitely yet to come. Join us.
With affection and gratitude,
Mike Bickle is the founder of the International House of Prayer, an evangelical missions organization based on 24/7 prayer with worship. He is also the founder of International House of Prayer University, which includes full-time ministry, music, and media schools.
Mike’s teaching emphasizes growing in passion for Jesus through intimacy with God, doing evangelism and missions work from the place of night-and-day prayer, and the end times. He is the author of several books, including Growing in Prayer, Passion for Jesus, God’s Answer to the Growing Crisis, Growing in the Prophetic, and Prayers to Strengthen Your Inner Man. Mike and his wife, Diane, have two married sons and six grandchildren.