Simon Redmill
John Groves: Prophecy in the Local Church


The following are the notes I took from John's superb evening.

Please note (1) John brought a brief summary of his teaching on prophecy, so it didn’t cover everything that could be said on prophecy! (2) Occasionally I’ve added something that I thought would help.  I’ve indicated this by putting ‘SR note’.  (3) I’d highly recommend listening to the teaching once it’s released shortly. 

  • God is a speaking God, from Genesis to Revelation He speaks.
  • Quite a few of the gifts are speaking gifts
  • Prophecy carries on in the New Covenant e.g. Pentecost (Acts 2) Eph 4, 1 Cor 12, 1 Cor 14. It’s a feature of the New Covenant 
  • Prophecy is for today and is for Grace Church. 
  • SR note: the Corinth church were mis-using spiritual gifts but not once did Paul say, in that case don’t use them. He expected, and wanted them to use spiritual gifts, saying “eagerly desire them, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Cor 14 v 1).  He did however bring teaching and correction to help the church use them wisely and biblically.  This is one of the reasons we asked John to come and speak.  We want to prophesy and do it biblically. 

What is prophecy? 

John Groves: “The ability to receive and share a message from God for his people”.

Wayne Grudem describes prophecy as “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind”. 

Types of prophecy?  Direct words from God, thoughts/impressions (I feel God is saying….), pictures/dreams, a mental picture, circumstances (e.g. traffic lights all green in a long journey…. I feel God is saying GO, the way is open …. Etc), physical manifestations, a word or phrase, asking questions (e.g. Jesus with the woman at the well), using the bible prophetically, preaching, song, actions, dance, art.  I.e. there are lots of way of using the spiritual gift of prophecy 

Weighing a word is very important (1 Cor 14 v 29).  Is it in harmony with scripture? 

Purpose of Prophecy (1 Cor 14 v 3)

  1. to Strengthen
  2. to Encourage
  3. to Comfort
  4. to Edify 
  • prophecy in the New Covenant (i.e. since the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus) is rarely judgemental. It happens a couple of times in the New Testament but always in the context of loving and honouring in strong relationship.
  • Predictive prophecy is rare. If you have that, it’s normally to stir faith and prayer in YOU, rather than to be shared.
  • Be VERY careful about bringing words relating to births, weddings and deaths (hatch, match and dispatch!!). If those words do come it’s normally for you to PRAY rather than bring to someone else……. JG “don’t dump the word on someone else and then go and have a cup of coffee!!”
  • On the rare occasion when these types of words are brought, it’s done very sensitively, we’re not spiritual fortune tellers, it would be supported by others, and is done to provoke faith and action, not fear. 
  • ALL prophecy is in the context of a BODY (i.e. the local church). This allows others to input, weigh, give feedback, evaluate.
  • We submit prophetic words to the body
  • There are no lone ranger prophets (or anything) on the NT 
  • SR: beware of a ‘prophecy echo chamber’ i.e. where people are just bringing prophecy after prophecy which are unaccountable, and not weighed or brought into the context of the local church or into leadership. It’s why social media or WhatsApp groups like this that merely prophecy, unconnected to the local church, not submitted into local church leadership are both unhelpful and unbiblical.  Stay away! Delete! 
  • Prophecy is a gift to bless the whole body.
  • Prophecy is not about you! It’s about blessing, serving and encouraging OTHERS.  Don’t make it about you and your ministry. 
  • JG gave example of bringing different words and not knowing how significant they would be e.g. his “no well worn paths” word which was hugely influential in the Newfrontiers family of churches, was brought, and John thought it was no different to any other word. But he’d submitted it to leadership, Terry Virgo and others had weighed it, felt it had real ‘weight’ to it, it fitted in with other things God was saying….. and so, they gave it prominence and it’s still talked about and prayed into 20 years later. 
  • Prophecy is always in the context of submitting into leadership. 
  • We’re serving the local church. When we bring any gift it’s out of love.  They are done for the common good (1 Peter 4 v 10: “each of you should use whatever gift you have to SERVE OTHERS….) 

2 Mistakes

  1. See the prophetic gift as our credit – get proud / prophet badge
  2. We conceal the gift God has given us (fan it into flame – 2 Timothy 1 v 6) 

How Prophecy Functions

  • Prophecy needs to operate in a culture of grace
  • People can make mistakes – we can learn from them and grow
  • Be open to feedback
  • Some prophets can lack humour – laughing at ourselves is good!
  • Romans 12 v 6 “prophecy in accordance (or in proportion) to your faith”
  • Prophets need help to grow in faith
  • Means we can bring word and leave the consequences with God
  • Have a good dose of humility
  • If the word is not taken up….. you’ve not been rejected. Be secure in God.
  • Pride can be an issue
  • Your responsibility is to bring the word. Then leave it with God. 

X3 elements of Prophecy

  1. Revelation – to the person bringing the word
  2. Interpretation
  3. Application 

John said it’s rare for someone to have all 3 (and that’s OK!). 

  • In Genesis, Joseph had a prophetic word from God:
  • Revelation: that all his brothers would bow down to him. 
  • Interpretation: correctly brought by his brothers
  • Application: incorrectly brought by his brothers…. Let’s kill him!! 
  • Joseph had a prophetic word, but only had the Revelation, not the Interpretation and Application (SR note: we can go further than intended and even unintentionally put pressure on others when we bring 1, 2 and 3, even getting upset when a word isn’t interpreted or applied in the way the ‘bringer’ of the word, thought should be the case) 
  • SR note: we prophecy IN PART (1 Cor 13 v 9 “for we know in part and we prophecy in part” i.e. it’s not like Isaiah speaking in the Old Testament, we get things wrong, we can hear incorrectly, we’re flawed, so we bring a word with confidence but also humility, and submit it into others being aware that we prophecy in part. Prophecy is not infallible, like the bible. It doesn’t carry the same authority as the bible.  Prophecy is a GIFT to bring to others not a DEMAND that it be interpreted and applied in a certain way.  
  • John also referred to Paul and Agabus in Acts 21
  • John said, some prophets think they do 1, 2 and 3, but that’s often not the case.
  • It’s why we need others the body, to weigh.
  • Church prayer meeting are a great context to grow in prophecy
  • SR note: 8am every Tuesday – all welcome!

If you’ve got a word for the church

  • Normally the first people you’d share it with would be the leaders
  • Unwise to get a full head of steam on it
  • Body context 
  • Prophet is a precious gift. It shapes and changes lives e.g. John moving to Winchester.  God spoke through the prophetic on two very powerful occasions 
  • One prophet (Ginny) felt God give here the word “Winchester” for John. It was only 2 years later she felt it was appropriate to bring it…… the day before John was going to announce he was moving to Winchester.  Amazing!!
  • Also shows the importance of seeking God for the right TIMING., as well as the right SETTING.
  • No lone rangers – be connected to local church. Beware of those that aren’t.
  • Submit to one another (go with songs worship leader brings, submit to tea and coffee leader about what to do with your sugar etc!).   Part of team and being part of a body.
  • A question was brought about how in the current lockdown climate a lot of ‘prophetic words’ are being flung out there. On social media.  On YouTube.  Often from people we don’t know.  How do we handle that?

Johns response: that’s a very wise observation! Be wary of it.

  • One of the ways we weigh prophecy is to ‘weigh’ the person (what’s their character fruit, track record etc. that’s what, in part, brings ‘weight / gravitas’ to the word.
  • Track record is important.

 Top Tips for growing in the Prophetic

  1. Step out in smaller contexts
  2. Keep practising
  3. Read the bible – it’s the fuel for all gifts
  4. Speak in tongues – sharpens spiritual awareness
  5. Get feedback
  6. SR: read good books on the prophetic (see below) to help you grow in your gift


  • Be accountable in everything!
  • To God, to church leaders, to one another
  • Don’t bring (in general) a prophetic word on your own – let others listen in, weigh, bring feedback etc
  • If it’s a word of ‘significance’ – share first with a leader – be accountable – don’t rush on.

 Impartation: God can and does use the laying on of hands to impart spiritual gifts / grown in them etc.

Recommended Books

  1. Greg Haslam – Moving in the Prophetic
  2. Graham Cooke – Developing Your Prophetic Gifting
  3. SR note: Terry Virgo – The Spirit Filled Church. Helps show how the prophetic works within a local church context.

 SR summary comments

John served us brilliantly.  What struck me was not just John’s biblical knowledge and application but a real HUMILITY.  He’s used his prophetic gift within the context of a local church (and in his case in a movement – Newfrontiers and Commission), submitting to leadership, not taking himself too seriously (but taking God very seriously), realising that he prophesises in part, that he doesn’t always get it right, that he needs others, that he wants to keep stepping out…… and as a result his ministry has had a huge impact.   


  • eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy
  • do it in the context of local church
  • submit to others
  • to strengthen, encourage, comfort and edify (what a great gift!!)
  • look to take the ‘next step’ in growing in this gift. Ask God for a prophetic word?  Bring a word at Community Group?  At the prayer meeting?  Start small and lets growing in our gifting and have some fun along the way!!