Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jesus Culture Revival

Tammy and I were at a Denver film festival a few years back when we got into a conversation with a co-worker who was there with us.  She had recently been hired by the Westin Hotel in the city to market their "in house" restaurant.  She explained to us, "The previous marketing strategies had been aimed at convincing Denver how cool and hip it was.  The minute you have to tell someone you're're not."

That had me thinking that in today's Christian circles the churches and leaders are practically falling over themselves to market the Body of Christ as "authentic" and "relevant".  The reason we market ourselves this way is because when we lack the power of the Holy Spirit in our gatherings, changing lives and breaking the chains that bind people, we have to rely on "other" methods to convince people to come to our meetings and support our church. Slick ads showing attractive energetic people telling you how cool and relevant their church opposed to their previous Christian experience which is assumed to be, horror of horrors, inauthentic."

But I just read a great article about the Jesus Culture movement going on in Redding California at Bethel Church.  It details the revival they have been seeing and the expectation that the Holy Spirit is among us in power to bring healing and transformation.

Says Jesus Culture leader Banning Liebscer:

“Our message is whole-hearted consecration unto the Lord. It’s not that we’re just Christians, but we’ve really given ourselves to see revival in the earth. We believe that God is looking for entire cities to be saved, and He’s looking for nations to turn to Him"

"We preach a gospel of power, if you come to our events, we’re going to pray for the sick. It’s a little bit different because it’s not necessarily coming from the person on the platform. If I’m preaching, we’ll pray for the sick, but we’re having the people pray for one another."

I guess when you are talking about whole hearted consecration to the Lord, appeals to authenticity are rendered kinda moot!

As someone who became a Christian during the Jesus Movement, here's hoping the Jesus Culture makes an even greater impact on it's generation for the Kingdom of God and the church.


Andrew said...

From my vantage Steve, you are just enamored with different lingo. You have always felt an annoyance with hipster lingo, but had a soft spot for charismatic lingo.

I agree with your premise though, the whole trying to sell oneself as authentic, or "creating" authentic space poisons the well from the get-go. However, the charismatic affectation with "revival" is no different, and has been going on painfully longer. If I had a cookie for every time I heard about a church somewhere that was experiencing "revival" and how it was going to change...

what?... what did it change? whole cities being saved? nations turning to him?

Been down that road and heard all of that... the problem is that it has nowhere to go. People get all jazzed up about being "more sold out" and "more dedicated"... they spend time in more energetic worship services...




It is an endless cycle of creating a crisis over some perceived lack, so it can be corrected, so the person can feel close to God.... only to rinse, wash, and repeat sometime later...

Steve H. said...


Point taken about "revival" being lingo but my defense is that it is a theme throughout the scriptures. "Revive us O'Lord" and the encouragement to "stir up" shouldn't be regulated to cynicism just because it has been misappropriated at times. There are solid ministries seeking to advance God's Kingdom and they need to be encouraged.

Andrew said...

Well, I think "revive" is just a choice of translation, and I suspect someone could find a reasonable word for "authentic" throughout scripture.

The one scripture I can think of for stir up, off the top of my head, is when Paul was encouraging people toward love and good deeds. When I read the article, I didn't get that sense; I heard, what I have always heard.

"“For us, a revivalist would be someone whose life is completely His,” Liebscher tells Charisma. “Our message is whole-hearted consecration unto the Lord. It’s not that we’re just Christians, but we’ve really given ourselves to see revival in the earth."

This is one of those circular, tautological statements that take up a paragraph, but doesn't say anything. It is at least as egregious as any hipster Pastor calling his congregation to be relevant. :)

Steve H. said...

By your definition, Paul the Apostle would be a revivalist?

Authenticity was not mentioned much in the scripture I suppose because it was assumned if you were doing the things Christ asked, authenticity was assumned.

To offer an example which is more likely to be palatable to your sensibilities, Mother Teresa, too my knowledge, never had to defend the authenticity or relevancy of her ministry. Pretty much, if you were doing these things, those attributes can be assumned.

I wonder if I had used her as an example originally whether we would even be having this discussion...

Andrew said...

I am just saying that using the word revival doesn't give it any more credibility than authentic... authentic is just a newer use that I am sure is making its way into recent translations as revival did previously.

I just see a guy like that as stirring people up... for the sake of stirring people up... it is what all of the tele-evangelical folks have been doing as long as I have been in the loop, and prior. He is calling us to be "whole-heartedly, and REALLY, and completely" turned over to/ obedient to God. At some point all of that talk sounds like a Kellogg's Raisin Bran commercial and if they really have been putting two bigger scoops of raisins in there at various times over the past 40 years.... shouldn't it be all raisins by now? I know that last time we sold ourselves out to God... but this time we are going to really, really sell ourselves out to God... ad-infinitum, ad-nauseum.

Please don't think I have any interest in defending hipster churches... I just fail to see what this guy is offering as any better, he is inviting folks to an emotional roller coaster ride... instead of being more authentic... he is offering a chance to be more whole-hearted (whatever that means). To me, it is appealing as George Jetson inviting me to join him on the treadmill.

Paul Ellis said...

Arguments over labels aside, I love the direction that Bethel and other similar churches are taking. We had a taste of that here recently when BJ preached at Manifest Presence. On the last night dozens and dozens of people were healed despite no altar call. Different illnesses were named (words of knowledge), the relevant people stood where they were, those around them laid hands, and people got healed. Simple!

Jesus did no advertising. Word of mouth will be enough when the word is "come and see" and there is actually something to come and see! Sick people will travel hundreds of miles to get healed. If you build it (the kingdom), they will come.

James said...

Hey Gobi , off topic but my sister Lora and her husband Gary are on their way to HK to do the Lords work.. They would love to meet you!
They are very strong believers.

James said...

I think my Traveler Character was
James Livingston III.
Gobi sr.

Steve H. said...

Paul: Yes, just as Jesus' ministry showed, when people's lives are healed and transformed, no marketing is necessary.

Rob: I was wondering where the "James" name was coming from. Speaking of Traveller, I talked with Dave N. and Ralph on Skype this morning. Did you know Ralph had a little girl? BTW, tell your sister to contact me, maybe we can see her over here.