Prophet’s Chambers

prophetschamberFundamentalist missionaries, evangelists, and traveling speakers are well acquainted with the phenomenon of the prophet’s chamber. The prophet’s chamber is ostensibly a few rooms set aside to accommodate itinerant folks who are visiting the church for a short time. The name comes from the Old Testament era as does most of the furniture donated for the visitors to use.

Just about any space can be given the title of prophet’s chamber. It may be a room or two in the bowels of the church basement, a room above a deacon’s garage, or even an ancient travel trailer parked out back. (“You’ll have to walk down to the church building to use the bathroom. Make sure you dress warmly, it’s supposed to be -37 tonight.”)

By Baptist law, the prophet’s chamber must also contain at least one 1960’s era pull-out couch bed guaranteed to ensure that the occupant will need chiropractic care immediately after leaving. Thankfully, there will also be at least two copies of Israel My Glory, a Sword Scrapbook, and a book of sermons by John R. Rice on the nightstand available for use if the guests have problems falling asleep.

Elijah only wishes that he could have had such creature comforts.

17 thoughts on “Prophet’s Chambers”

  1. While traveling on summer tours for MBBC I stayed in many a prophet’s chamber. I remember one in particular, as it had a large-screen TV, and this was back when large-screen TVs were kind of a big deal.

    Churches are very freaky places at night, probably only slightly less creepy than cemeteries..

  2. Been there many times. Most of the ones I’ve been to have been pretty good since common sense dictates you don’t put someone up in a place you yourself wouldn’t stay. Some of them have been slightly more comfortable than hotel rooms (with the exception of the nursery being on the other side of the wall and the lack of WiFi). Of course there was one “prophet’s chamber” that was atop a church gymnasium and consisted solely of a large room chock full of wireframe cots and mattresses of questionable heritage. And the shower was downstairs in the “locker room” that was next to the Sunday School room, which meant one had to make sure Sister Edna wasn’t setting up for her lesson when one was on his way to the shower.

  3. “Churches are very freaky places at night, probably only slightly less creepy than cemeteries..”

    Unless, of course, you either had to go through the church’s cemetery to get to the prophet’s chamber or the cemetery was a very short distance from the room. Talk about wreaking havoc on an over-imaginative missionary kid’s mind!

  4. Wow, I laughed when I read this. I live up north near Quebec and my church supports a few missionary families there. We have an extra section of our house which could be easily used as a separate apartment (no pull-out but we do have a futon…and a wide screen TV from the previous owners)and we were offering it to some visiting missionaries from Quebec who…English isn’t their first language so they sometimes need a little more explanation. Anyway, We were explaining it to the husband and he wasn’t quite understanding what it really was it until his wife piped up and said “Oh! Like a Prophet’s chamber!” my family had never heard of it before so we’ve jokingly called it the “Prophet’s chamber” since then. I didn’t realize it was a little more wide-spread than that.

  5. OMG!! As a recovering fundy MK, this post brought back sooo many (unsuccessfully repressed) childhood memories of summers on “furlough” visiting “supporting churches” to “report” back what we were doing with all those support checks. I used to HATE IT when we had to stay in the Prophets Chambers instead of a hotel with a pool and a TV. For some reason they always smelled kinda funky…

    1. I’d never heard of a prophet’s chamber until I attended a church in the midwest after graduating college that had one. And that one DID always seem a bit funky-smelling. And the shower was downstairs too! (Growing up, we had the biggest house in the church so we usually had visiting missionaries stay at our house. I loved that! I looked at them as living, breathing heroes!)

  6. I’ve never heard this term, but I have occasionally wondered about the posh — and I DO mean POSH — offices that some fundy and evangelical pastors have.
    W.A. Criswell’s study at FBC Dallas was worthy of a monarch.

    1. That’s because FBC Dallas
      a. has a lot of money, and
      b. Worships W.A. Criswell as a god.

  7. I like the way my old (non-fundy) church set up their prophet’s chamber. It was in the church, but not in the basement or anything like that. It was a good sized room (bigger then the typical master bedroom) with an adjoining bathroom that was only meant for that room, actual nice furniture, a working large-screen TV, and even a nice waterbed (probably donated by a generous church member). On top of that, there was a dead-bolt lock on the inside of the door. They knew how to treat evangelists and missionaries well.

    1. I have an apartment in my house like this. It is for visitors of any kind. Missionaries were the first to use it. When I was a kid, my parents hosted people in the best possible style. First, it was the pull-out sofa in our living room, and share the one bathroom with the rest of us. Later, we owned a motel, so we could give them a room of their own. What a privilege to provide for people in this way!

  8. Oh man, our prophet’s chamber was decked out then! We had a “mother-in-law house” attached to our main house. The mother-in-law house was a complete 1 bedroom house with kitchen, dining area, bathroom, living room, and bedroom!

    No wonder all the guest speakers, singers, and missionaries LOVED our prophet’s chamber!

  9. We have stayed in many prophets´chambers and most were great. Our kids loved it when they left snacks for them. It saved us a lot of money and we are thankful for them.

  10. As a church-planter in communist China, I am not only enjoying visiting home (good old USA), but also really looking forward to staying in two missionary houses later this month. Both houses have been purchased and well cared for by two of our supporting churches, especially for visiting missionaries and evangelists and their families. My wife and children and I have stayed in both homes and appreciated so much the care so evidently given to their missionaries through these accommodations.

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