In Kansas City, Missouri, IHOP isn’t just for pancakes anymore. For more than a decade, worshipers at the International House of Prayer have been singing and praying nonstop to prepare the way for Jesus’s return. Led by prophecy preacher Mike Bickle, the evangelical Christian mission base started in 1999 in a cluster of trailers; it now inhabits a formerly vacant shopping center and annually attracts 40,000 visitors, including tourists.
IHOP members form a small subset of the roughly 60 million Americans who believe in Christ’s imminent Second Coming, says Glenn W. Shuck, assistant professor of religion at Williams College, and their quest for mass revival has been a common practice among American evangelicals since the Puritans. Conservative evangelical churches have been growing particularly rapidly since the 1970s, he says, a growth attributed in large part to “the fact that evangelical churches place a lot of demands on their members. You would think that would discourage people.”
Brian Kim of IHOP’s executive leadership team credits the Kansas City ministry’s significant recent growth in part to its increased digital presence, including a live web stream of the 24/7 prayer room. Outside the prayer room, as believers in the literal truth of the Bible and God’s prophecy, IHOP members look for signs (famine, earthquakes, false prophets) that Jesus’s physical return to rule over earth is imminent.
Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.