As with the apostolic, the prophetic and the role of the prophet is a time-tested ministry. It requires a time of maturing and proving. We should be hesitant to place a title of prophet on anyone before the proper amount of time passes through which they can be tested and matured. With the prophetic call and gift, this is especially critical because when the words, “Thus says God” are used. it carries tremendous authority and weight. How can you argue against what God says? So, I encourage young unproved prophets (in training) to instead use terms like, “This is what I sense the Lord is saying,” “This is what I am feeling,” or better yet, in the form of a question, “Could the Lord be saying…?”
There are two ways to moving the prophetic gift and the ministry of the fivefold prophet to maturity. It can either be matured and then released, or released and then mentored into maturity. One or the other is neither right nor wrong; it is just coming from different perspectives. The choice of which way is best depends on how much a seasoned fivefold minister is willing to mentor a person as he functions in his gifts and calling.
I release and mentor the gifts and callings of apostle and prophet. I encourage the individual to exercise his gift with the intention of then mentoring the calling and gifts to bring them into maturity. Consequently, if a developing prophet speaks a word in a public gathering that is incorrect, they know that I care about them and their development to bring adjustment and correction to the word given in a loving manner. And, to do so publicly. The Bible says that we hear in part and prophesy in part. That means that we do make mistakes. We are not always 100% accurate. By mentoring the individual, I can help bring the prophetic gifting to maturity and enable the prophet-in-training to grow and to learn.
The other way is to mature the gift and the ministry of the young prophet and then release it. This is also done through mentoring, training, and teaching. As individuals continue to grow in their gifts, and I become more confident in their ability to hear the Word of the Lord, I release them to speak at public gatherings and services. The goal is always to bring the prophetic gift and the ministry of the fivefold prophet to a place of maturity so that it will be a builder of the body of Christ,
Many people do not know where to start in the prophetic ministry. I encourage people with a prophetic gifting to start in a small group of people – say, in a house church – where they can find a safe place to begin to exercise their gift and calling. They will make mistakes; that is a given. The key is that they remain teachable and approachable as they continue to grow and mature. Over time, they will learn to hear the voice of the Lord more accurately and become more effective and powerful in ministering. In a smaller group of believers they will find the love and forgiveness they need to be encouraged to continue on developing their gifting.
It is comforting to remember that all prophets started at this basic level at one time. It is also helpful if someone more advanced in the prophetic is willing to be a spiritual parent mentoring the young prophet in this gift.