JOIN US MAY 20-21 FOR RESTORE CONFERENCE

Mary
DeMuth

Scot
McKnight

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 1.50.18 PM

Naghmeh
Panahi

Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Opinion: Mirror of Misconduct: How IHOPKC Crisis Manager Embodied Image He Was Hired to Fix

By Stephen Deere
eric volz
On Dec. 10, 2023, Eric Volz of The David House Agency addresses IHOPKC's Forerunner Church in Grandview, Mo. (Video screengrab)

As a storm of allegations of sexual and psychological abuse at the International House of Prayer (IHOPKC) gathered on the horizon, leaders enlisted Eric Volz to navigate the turbulent waters that threatened to engulf the organization and its founder, Mike Bickle.

Bickle and IHOPKC have been at the heart of a worldwide worship and prayer movement for 25 years, captivating millions globally with the allure of participating directly in a divine plan.

The sensitive and serious nature of the allegations required outside help from a crisis manager, an expert at handling public perception and communications, especially for organizations confronting potential threats to their existence.

Volz, however, violated the cardinal rule of crisis management: never become a central figure in the crisis.

Volz, 44, has publicly sparred with reporters and critics. He prefaced disrespectful monologues with “Respectfully,” and signed off on menacing communications with “Blessings.”

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $50 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Ghosted: An American Story” by Nancy French. To donate, click here.

volz greaves
On Dec. 10, 2023, International House of Prayer Kansas City Executive Director Stuart Greaves (right) and spokesperson Eric Volz of The David House Agency speak at Forerunner Church in Grandview, Missouri. (Video screengrab)

On Twitter/X, Volz earned the nickname “Minister of Truth,” a reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

In Orwell’s novel, the “Ministry of Truth” oversees propaganda, the revision of history, and the manipulation of facts.

During my two decades in journalism, I have encountered a couple of rare instances where circumstances warranted stories about public relations professionals, or crisis managers.

The first occurred during the 2014 Ferguson unrest over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. A colleague and I uncovered information about the city’s newly contracted crisis manager having also fatally shot an unarmed man years earlier.

The second transpired while covering Atlanta City government. Text messages revealed a former spokesperson blatantly violated the Georgia Open Records Act. The individual became the first public servant in state history convicted under the Act.

Eric Volz IHOPKC
IHOPKC Spokesman Eric Volz (Video screengrab)

Volz’s involvement with IHOPKC marks yet another situation that merits chronicling a crisis manager’s actions, as they appear to mirror the insularity, insensitivity, and self-aggrandizement that created the crisis.

“I think in Eric we see a public portrayal of IHOPKC’s private persona & culture,” Jessica Dedrick, who interned at IHOPKC from 2004 to 2006, posted on Twitter/X late Monday. “He brought further into daylight what exists in darkness & behind closed doors: duplicity, arrogance, bullying & insults, lying for personal gain, gaslighting, reliance on appearances, $$, etc.”

Visions of Grandeur

Volz’s past has raised significant questions about his ability to be objective regarding sexual assault allegations.

Volz formed his company, the David House Agency, on the foundation of his wrongful murder conviction in Nicaragua. In 2006, the body of Volz’s ex-girlfriend, Doris Jiménez, 25, was discovered after she had been strangled and raped.

Volz substantiated his alibi with digital evidence of being in Managua, about 55 miles south from Jiménez’s clothing boutique in Rivas where her body was found. The digital evidence was supported by witness testimony.

Before being charged with the 2006 murder, Volz had begun publishing a magazine in Nicaragua.

Volz would later blame the charges against him on unproven Central American political conspiracies. But his private conversations at the time suggested he was more focused on building a publishing empire than the grave allegations he faced.

A Central American journalist reviewing Volz’s subsequent book about the ordeal reported: “During a recess in the court proceedings, he turned to me and said he was looking forward to getting back to work making EP a leading magazine in Central America. It seemed like a rather grandiose – not to mention oddly timed – comment from someone who had essentially published only one issue. Volz’s ego and visions of grandeur might lead some readers to then wonder about his conclusion in the book: that he was a political prisoner that Ortega tried to leverage in missile-disarmament negotiations with the U.S. government.”

After Volz was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison, an appeals court overturned the decision. However, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court ordered an investigation into the decision after Volz was deported back to the U.S.

eric volz
On Jan. 10, 2008, Eric Volz appeared on the Today show. (Video screengrab)

In 2008, after Volz returned to his home in Tennessee, he expressed concern about the Nicaraguan Supreme Court’s potential actions. He concluded that he would become a fugitive again, whether through the reaffirmation of his guilty verdict or the ordering of a new trial, according to a UPI news agency article.

Volz filed a 700-page petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS), seeking justice and clarity. The OAS, dedicated to fostering solidarity, democracy, human rights, and development in the Americas, has yet to respond to inquiries submitted via email on Tuesday about the petition’s outcome.

Volz’ David House Agency went on to assist in several high-profile cases, including those of Matthew and Grace Huang, Jason Puracal, and Amanda Knox.

This background, rich with experience in handling delicate and complex situations, seemed exactly what IHOPKC needed during the crisis.

However, the nature of Volz’s past legal troubles, especially the allegations of sexual assault and murder, introduced problematic optics and inevitable questions regarding whether Volz would sympathize more with the accused than the accusers.

From the outset, Volz appeared positioned to potentially sabotage IHOPKC’s crisis management rather than effectively guide it.

Then he spoke, removing all doubt.

eric volz ihopkc
On Jan. 14, 2024, Eric Volz of The David House Agency addresses IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church in Grandview, Mo. (Video screengrab)

Rallying Cry for Critics

After working behind the scenes, Volz, in December, took on the role of spokesperson and lectured congregants at IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church against prematurely judging Bickle amid accusations from several of Bickle’s former associates that Bickle had engaged in decades-long sexual predation.

Volz called social media commentators, many of whom had invested years in IHOPKC, “armchair investigators.”

The misstep was immediately obvious. With a single phrase, Volz rallied, unified and motivated his opposition. Several people incorporated “armchair investigator” into the titles of their Instagram and Twitter/X accounts.

For a crisis manager in the social media age, Volz also seemed especially sensitive to criticism.

Soon after Volz became IHOPKC’s spokesman, Volz claimed in lengthy diatribe that he had never experienced slander to this extent — despite being accused of murder and imprisoned for more than a year in Central America.

 

Hidden Conflicts

Volz did not disclose that he had legally changed his name to Eric V. Lineiro a few years earlier and that “Volz” was actually now a pseudonym.

He also didn’t publicly mention that he had established a music business with one of IHOPKC’s key worship leaders, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest in his financial interactions with IHOPKC.

Transparency is essential in crisis management, and any concealment can significantly harm an organization’s reputation.

PRSA image
Logo for Public Relations Society of America (Courtesy image)

The Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics highlights the need for openness, stating, “Open communication fosters informed decision making in a democratic society,” and mandates members to “Be honest and accurate in all communications” and to “Disclose financial interest (such as stock ownership) in a client’s organization.”

Not disclosing financial interests, particularly those that could affect crisis management, points to ethical concerns. These omissions suggest possible conflicts of interest, compromising ethical standards and integrity, leading to more intense scrutiny of the organization’s values and practices.

The PRSA’s Code of Ethics stresses: “Avoiding real, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest builds the trust of clients, employers, and the public.”

But Volz apparent conflicts, unknown, at least to the broader IHOPKC community, helped expand the scope of scrutiny from the abuse allegations themselves to the organization’s response to them.

magnuson
Stephen Magnuson (Photo: Twitter)

“When this is all over, and the truth about @mikebickle and @ihopkc is finally told, there sitting in the ashes of what was once @ihopkc will be an unknown number of precious women who have been twisted and broken by the men who were their leaders,” posted Stephen Magnuson, the former chief of staff for Bickle’s personal ministry, Friends of the Bridegroom, on Twitter/X in December.

“Spoiler Alert: the @ihopkc victims are not just women and the abuser is not just @mikebickle. There are numerous young men who have been abused by the men who led them … Are you listening Mr. @EricVolz, Minister of Truth …”

Questions Unanswered

The need for a transparent, empathetic, and comprehensive approach to crisis management has been evident at IHOPKC throughout the crisis, yet Volz’s strategies have undermined claims of its leaders that they intend to hold people accountable.

IHOPKC leaders began banning staff and students of the organization’s unaccredited Bible school from bringing their cell phones to meetings for fear of being recorded.

Volz has defended his messaging and blamed the audience for confusion.

“Isn’t your sole purpose as the spokesperson to communicate things clearly and effectively?” asked Christina Forêt in a Twitter/X post. “It’s kind of weird for you to blame the IHOPKC community for their interpretations of your words when it’s obvious your communication style is the problem. It’s especially wild for you to put the responsibility on the attendees to make an accurate representation of what’s discussed when they are banned from using their own personal phones to take notes in the meetings …”

Christina Forêt hosts the Wake Up and Win podcast with her husband Blaise.

Rather than calmly addressing criticism, Volz resorted to blocking anyone who mocked him. Sometimes he blocked individuals for no apparent reason. Screenshots of Volz blocking people turned into badges of honor, proudly posted by those affected.

Last week, Eric Volz announced the results of IHOPKC’s internal investigation, conducted by a law firm known for its defense of clergy accused of sexual misconduct. The investigation narrowly focused on Mike Bickle’s actions, overlooking broader allegations of sexual and psychological manipulation within IHOPKC.

The investigative report essentially confirmed Bickle’s own admission from a statement in December, acknowledging sexual misconduct two decades prior.

Following the report, Volz declared his work at IHOPKC complete, asserting that the crisis had ended—a conclusion not universally accepted.

Volz expressed the need to decompress upon his departure. But he did so publicly, airing a video of him walking through the woods discussing his prayers for everyone involved with the IHOPKC scandal.

In a YouTube video posted on Sunday, Volz, was interviewed from his Nashville home by a pastor. He faced no critical questions. Volz attributed any ongoing crisis to external pressures, stating, “I don’t think IHOPKC is really in crisis-mode anymore.”

Volz is not without his fans, many of whom appear to have other interests intertwined with IHOPKC. After the YouTube video was posted, an IHOPKC loyalist encouraged Volz to get some rest.

But @EricVolzParody, a Twitter/X account created solely for the purpose of poking fun at Volz, responded: “Thank you. I’ve been the most humble person I have ever met. I am a broken man. It’s hard to hear anyone say anything bad about me. Some say it’s insecurity, but I call it a superpower.”

On Monday, I posted several pointed questions directed to Volz on Twitter/X, focusing on his potential conflicts of interest, use of a pseudonym, adherence to ethical guidelines, transparency about compensation, and accountability measures.

The inquiries remain unanswered.

Volz seemed more preoccupied with scrubbing his social media accounts of IHOPKC-related material.

Despite the apparent purging of evidence of half-truths and combative exchanges on Twitter/X, Volz defended his rapid deletion of the content as one of his standard practices.

This article originally appeared at Divine Detours and has been reprinted with permission.

Stephen Deere spent 20 years as a journalist, conducting investigations that won several awards and ignited major reforms in Atlanta and St. Louis, Missouri. He lives in Marietta, Georgia. 

SHARE THIS:

GET EMAIL UPDATES!

Keep in touch with Julie and get updates in your inbox!

Don’t worry we won’t spam you.

More to explore
discussion

16 Responses

  1. That was a great article that shows how much the whole thing was flawed. There was serious conflict of interest from the beginning.

  2. Does anyone have more details about his financial benefits?

    Curious about whether he left when he did to avoid being around when news of Bickle and the 14-year-old broke.

    1. In your two decades of journalism, one of the worst situations you saw was Michael Brown? Really? Michael Brown wasn’t “unarmed”. Tell me how grabbing the officer’s gun and struggling to take control of it qualifies as unarmed. He was also punching the officer. There are actual people who suffer from police brutality and focusing on Michael Brown, who literally tried to murder the police officer, is just irresponsible journalism. Worst example of police brutality ever. What you wrote amounts to defamation of Officer Wilson.

  3. Since it’s “birth”, about 120 years ago, the “Pentecostal Movement” (and it’s ecclesiatical “offspring” [eg. the “Charismatic Movement”), has been far too often revealed, as being like a train, that rolls along it’s teacks, on GREASE; since it’s very “modus” instructs one to “turn off the mind”, in order to “receive visions/hear God’s voice”, such as the IHOP scandal is NO surprise; what IS surprising, are the many people, outraged at the sex/$$$ scandals, as perpetrated by these “Lords of Lubricity”…..WHAT DO YOU EXPECT????

    1. The Pharisees and Sadducees were all verbally opposed to the first Pentecostal outpouring too. Be careful that your angst against charlatanism doesn’t place you in conflict with the genuine move of Holy Spirit. I hate false teachings but relish the genuine move of God.

    2. While there have been anti-intellectual tendencies historically in Pentecostalism (see “Full Gospel: Fractured Minds?” by Rick Nañez), and in many sectors those have continued into the present (accusing people who want to analyze things in light of Scripture of having a “religious spirit” and pointing out that “the letter kills”), it is also a fact that several early Pentecostal leaders DID have advanced theological training. In addition, since 1970, the Society for Pentecostal Studies has promoted the academic study of issues related to Pentecostal and Charismatic theology (one has to have either a master’s degree or higher, or be enrolled in an accredited program working toward an advance degree, to be a member).

      There are great number of “Pentellectuals” who seek to have “knowledge on fire.”

  4. Narrcissists like Volz have a built-in blind spot. They are unable to comprehend the fact that not everyone out there thinks that they are as awesome as they consider themselves to be. So negative comments confuse them and cause narrcissistic injury. They also cause cognative dissonance. But they do understand when something is not quite right and he knows getting involved in this IHOPKC scandal was a huge mistake that damaged his brand. He loudly proclaims he knows all about victims and how they feel and he then proceeds to side with a religious cult against victims of that cults abuse. Now people clearly realize he is not an advocate for victims, but that he saw this as an opportunity to make money and give himself some publicity at the same time. It didn’t work out quite the way he planned. It quite often happens that way when people claim to have the kind of relationship with Christ that they do not actually have. If they did, they would behave much differently.

  5. “Volz did not disclose that he had legally changed his name to Eric V. Lineiro a few years earlier and that “Volz” was actually now a pseudonym.”

    What’s in Mr. Volz-Lineiro’s past? The dude is sketchy. I wouldn’t trust him to be the spokesperson for my HOA.

    I ran a background check on him and nothing comes up under either name.

  6. Eric “Volz” certainly has the performative piety act down pat. He really does come across as a pretty shady character. But then, Mike Bickle it turns out, has been a very shady character for a long time, surrounded by an inner circle of protective enablers. Like seems attracted to like it would appear.

      1. What does he get restored to? His former place as a leader or as a Christian who sinned but has repented? I say the latter but not the former until much time and testing has passed. He’s 68 years old.

      2. Bickle could be “restored” as a Christian brother IF he repents and produces fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). Who would decide what that fruit is? Who would monitor his progress? His peers? However, there is no circumstance where he could legitimately serve in any ministry position because his reputation has been soiled. That is a lifetime consequence for betraying his position of trust. Only a fool would trust him now.

      3. It depends on what you mean by restoration. We do believe that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”…
        We would all want grace to abound in Mike Bickle’s life, that he be a testimony of repentance leading to forgiveness.
        Restoration as in a right relationship with God?Absolutely! That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t face the consequences of his actions, at the very minimum no return to ministry leadership. At the maximum criminal penalties.

      4. He can never be a pastor again after all this deception. He let everyone believe he was a solid man of God, faithful to his wife and God, for decades. His lies about the angel Michael visiting him, wow. He is a liar. A deceiver. He needs to truly be saved, for there is no way he is. Well, he could be but is very carnal and such a liar. I don’t know. But he is not ever going to preach again. Who would listen? Five people. He’s so old too. He needs to figure out how to live holy and hate sin first. He seems to be a man who has hidden so much. Perhaps that is why he lied about all his visions and so forth. To compensate for his sins. He was riding on the fumes of lies instead of a walk with God that included sanctification. I wonder why you are so intent on him preaching again. Why? Sure he can be restored and be white as snow. Sure. But he needs to repent first and then get involved in a church where he is watched like a hawk and ever woman there knows what he is all about. Goodness, he is a danger to believers. The church is supposed to be a safe place for us. Ihop never was. It was full of gays and Mikes. I should be able to go to church and hear the bible too. Ihop pulpit and church is full of false doctrine. You are forgiven. I think you want him restored so you feel better about yourself. I feel very guilty over my past sins. I love Mike and hope he truly repents. If he has, great. I am sure he is going through hell right now.

  7. Not surprised that Volz left before the revelation of Bickle being a child molester came out. Next the General needs to go. Neither man is any kind of shepherd and have no place in leadership anywhere in the real body of Christ. David could not build the temple because he was a man of war. The general also is and sent many men to their death as all generals do. This situation reveals the reality of what IHOPKC has always been. It is a fake vision by a child molester built on a house of sand AGAINST the real King Jesus. Jesus is not now, nor has He ever been any part of this. This movement is not His. These leaders are not His. The people involved have been deceived and this is a wake up call. I hope a few actually do wake up. You have to throw away the scriptures and Jesus actual words in Red to continue to be a part of this dumpster fire.

Leave a Reply

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people register before they begin commenting. This means no anonymous comments will be allowed. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
 
MOST RECENT Articles
MOST popular articles
en_USEnglish

Book Giveaway!

Enter your email below for a chance to win a copy of The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel. 

We’re giving away 5 copies randomly to those who respond by midnight on Wednesday.

*New subscribers in U.S. only. You will receive the Daily News Digest.