Charisma Magazine om Bethel Church

Tyvärr dominerar negativa åsikter om Bill Johnson det digitala samtalsrummet. Vi som tror på en biblisk karismatik och uppskattar ledare såsom Bill Johnson och församlingar såsom Bethel Church har inte gjort ett tillräckligt bra jobb. Det är svårt att hitta bra försvar för nutida karismatik på nätet. Bara för att skeptikerna är ivrigare att uttrycka sina åsikter online, så innebär det naturligtvis inte att de har rätt. De som är positiva till något är generellt inte lika ivriga som de som är ute efter att kritisera & döma.

Det är dock viktigt att komma ihåg att Bill & Bethel Church är enormt uppskattade världen över. Bill blir inbjuden till allt ifrån högkyrkliga sammanhang till nystartade församlingar. Häromdagen hittade jag en artikel från Charisma Magazine. Deras editor spenderade tid i Bethel Church och detta är hans intryck:

The Radical Revivalists

Thursday, 09 June 2011 04:01 PM EDT Marcus Yoars. After almost 15 years, Bethel Church continues to thrive amid a revival culture that hasF-Yoars-RadicalRevivalists produced not only countless miracles, but also a youth movement now expanding into stadiums. 

Melissa Roberts can’t remember a time when it wasn’t revival at Bethel Church. Since she was 4 years old, the only kind of church gatherings she’s known have featured an atmosphere of extreme spiritual hunger, passionate worship and supernatural encounters with God. 

The now-16-year-old barely flinches when worshippers collapse around her during a service as the Holy Spirit spontaneously moves without anyone touching anyone. She hardly bats an eye anymore when she hears of people being declared cancer-free the week after she laid hands on them. And recently she didn’t gawk in amazement as a massive tumor disappeared from a baby’s forehead while she prayed for healing.

It’s not that Roberts isn’t excited by seeing God’s power on display—far from it. It’s just that in Redding, Calif., the unusual has become the norm. Roberts is among Bethel’s first generation to grow up entirely in this revival atmosphere.

“This is all I’ve ever known,” she says. “It’s normal to me. When other people are reacting to it, I just wonder why they’re so amazed because I’m so used to it.”

For outsiders, however, it’s hard to not be astounded at how God has established a culture of revival at Bethel that’s lasted almost 15 years and transformed a small-town, former Assemblies of God church into a global hub of “radical revivalists.” Today, at least among Roberts’ age group, the revival’s fruit is on full display via Jesus Culture—an exploding youth movement that serves as a microcosm of the bigger Bethel story.

F-Yoars-RadicalRevivalists2The Burning Ones

Bethel’s leaders dream big. In this revival setting, it’s hard not to, given the regularity with which God has turned visions into reality here and the empowering culture senior leader Bill Johnson has created. But sometimes, even Jesus Culture director Banning Liebscher has to shake his head at how God has exponentially grown what began as a simple youth ministry.

First launched in 1999 as a local youth conference, Jesus Culture gradually expanded over the next few years through its blend of soul-searing worship music and signs-and-wonders street ministry. The concept was relatively simple: Provide a setting where teens burning with passion for God wouldn’t just encounter Him through worship, but would also be empowered to release miracles in their local communities.

But then a video of Jesus Culture worship leader Kim Walker-Smith singing “How He Loves Us” showed up on YouTube, and almost 5 million views later, Jesus Culture became the new worship scene. Suddenly pastors and worship leaders around the world were referencing it as a new model for how worship should look. The events began to grow exponentially in size, as did the sales from live recordings such as We Cry Out,Your Love Never FailsConsumed and the most recent, Come Away.

Other ministries thrust into such a level of instant recognition could’ve easily altered their primary mission to accommodate the growing structure. But for Liebscher, Jesus Culture’s vision of raising healing revivalists has been the same since Day One—and unless God drastically redirects the ministry, will stay that way for years to come.

“I’m not interested in just being a worship movement,” he says. “I’m not interested in just doing one-night worship events or selling albums. We love doing all that; we love seeing people get lit up for Jesus through worship, but that’s not it. … The Lord’s given us a mandate to raise up emerging leaders who will be in every part of society—media, education, politics, business—to find them now and to walk with them for the next 30 years.”

Liebscher believes God is marking an unprecedented number of young revivalists today who will fully abandon themselves for the cause of establishing His kingdom: “They’re finding out: ‘This is what I was born for; I’ll give my entire life for this. Jesus is to be given the nations of the earth, and I’m going to give everything to see the nations transformed for Him.’”

The recent surge of youth drawn to the movement attests to this rise of called-out revivalists. As a result, Jesus Culture will gather in a stadium for the first time later this summer. The Aug. 3-5 conference at Allstate Arena in Chicago fulfills a vision Liebscher and others—including prophets such as Lou Engle and Cindy Jacobs who have served as the movement’s mothers and fathers—have had of stadiums overflowing with revivalists burning with the Holy Spirit’s fire. Engle even called Jesus Culture the second wave of The Call, which in 2000 drew almost 400,000 teenagers and young adults to Washington, D.C.

“It’s not just people showing up to hear some good music,” says Chris Quilala, a Jesus Culture worship leader who’s been part of the movement since he was 13. “We want people to encounter God’s presence obviously in worship, but we also want them to really taste what signs and wonders are and realize that God wants to touch them—and that they can take this out in their cities.”

F-Yoars-RadicalRevivalists5Risky Business

As monumental as the August event may be for Jesus Culture, it’s also indicative of Bethel’s overall culture, which thrives upon core values such as risk, honor (particularly between generations), confrontation and empowerment. With 18,000-plus seats to fill in a state more than 2,000 miles away, Liebscher admits moving to the stadium level is risky: “I’m really encouraged with what the Lord’s doing, but I don’t live in fantasy land; I’m not naive as to how much influence we do or don’t have. I’ll take a risk and I want to dream, but this has got to be God.”

Indeed, under the Bethel umbrella few things are gained without risk. Every day—whether in weekend services attended by almost 3,000 people or on weekdays at the 1,400-student School of Supernatural Ministry—someone echoes the mantra: If you want to see the Holy Spirit’s power at work, you have to step out into unfamiliar territory.

“Risk is one of the essential elements necessary to see God move supernaturally among His people,” Kris Vallotton, senior associate leader, explains. “Risk was written into the very nature of creation when God refused to childproof the Garden. Many churches, metaphorically speaking, cut down the second tree in the Garden and call that sanctification. But it’s difficult to be ready for the jungle when you train in the zoo. If you want to experience signs, wonder and miracles, you have to step over the line and take a risk. Miracles rarely happen in the comfort zone.”

For this reason, every Jesus Culture event features street ministry where students venture into malls, restaurants, grocery stores and coffee shops to follow the Holy Spirit’s direction and pray boldly for strangers. One of Bethel’s main evangelistic ministries involves “Treasure Hunts,” in which three to five people ask the Lord for words of knowledge, write them on a “treasure map,” follow the clues to a location and then pray for their ultimate “treasure”—a complete stranger who’s usually astounded when team members prove the encounter couldn’t have been devised. (Many strangers have been saved or healed from this.) Even Bethel’s introductory membership class involves newcomers boldly praying for people on the streets.

It wasn’t always this way. Kevin Dedmon, who leads the Treasure Hunt outreaches, remembers how the early days of revival at Bethel were often contained within church walls. Though powerful testimonies of salvation and healing were shared regularly in corporate services, they rarely featured “outside” accounts. That changed one Sunday during a worship service when Johnson asked strictly for testimonies of healing outside the church—and from that point on, people accepted the unspoken challenge to take the revival into their communities.

“Bill raised the bar with testimonies,” Dedmon says. “Instead of telling people they had to, he did it with testimonies—and it gave everybody an appetite to want to go and do it. That became the new standard. It was vision-casting through testimonies.”

F-Yoars-RadicalRevivalists6Have You Failed Today?

Bethel has seen extraordinary results by cultivating risk-taking believers. Johnson prefers not to publicly report major miracles until they’re verified, but he says it’s rare for a week to pass without multiple reports of people healed from deafness, blindness, cancer and various other sicknesses and disabilities.

Yet what sets Bethel apart from many churches that accentuate the healing ministry is the room its leadership publicly leaves for failure.

“We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, batting a thousand,” Vallotton says. “Amid the supernaturally charged atmosphere at Bethel, there are still people who leave without their miracle. Despite this, we continue to press in to the Lord for wisdom. Jesus healed everyone who came to Him and then said, ‘Greater works shall you do when I go to be with the Father.’ We still have a long ways to grow to meet the standard that our Savior died to obtain.”

Without downplaying the role of faith, the soft-spoken Johnson will frequently address this “other” side of healing from the pulpit with refreshing honesty. He’s also quick to counter the number of healings and other impressive statistics with a sobering reminder. “When this thing first broke out here, we lost 1,000 people,” he points out, referring to the mass exodus that occurred when he became senior pastor in 1996. “But I’d go through that any day of the week over and over again, because we got healing in exchange. It’s never been about how many people. The significance is important, and significance isn’t measured in fame. For us, significance is impacting the culture. That’s our target.”

F-Yoars-RadicalRevivalists7Globe Trotters and Changers

If cultural impact is Bethel’s measuring stick, it’s clear the church is growing where it counts. Redding was once considered a mere Northern California truck stop and dubbed one of the worst places to live in California; since revival hit, Bethel has become a major force in a now-flourishing area and works closely with city officials to help the community continue to improve. The church and its schools send hundreds of students into the city each month to assist with upkeep, help to feed those living in poor neighborhoods, work with multiple schools and even throw block parties for children in various communities.

But it’s the national and even global impact Bethel is making that has many of its leaders just as excited. 

With its extension into cites such as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Seattle, Jesus Culture is strategically targeting regions to raise the next generation of revivalists. Meanwhile, Bethel teams—from short-term mission teams to counselor groups that teach the church’s specified Sozo and Shabar inner-healing programs—leave Redding almost weekly to minister in countries across the globe. Global Legacy, Bethel’s apostolic relational network, connects hundreds of revival leaders worldwide. And countless leaders under the Bethel umbrella have itinerate traveling ministries that, in recent years, have taken them everywhere from Fortune 500 boardrooms and Hollywood studios to royal palaces and presidential offices—with Bethel members literally counseling those who shape the nations of the world.

Vallotton sees this increased sphere of influence as a natural byproduct of revival: “To us the word revival means ‘God’s ability to superimpose His superior Kingdom supernaturally into every person’s life and into every realm of society until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God.’ … A few years ago, the Lord taught us to live with a 100-year vision. He instructed us that we were to give up our ministry and embrace a legacy. From that day on, we began to consider how today’s decisions would affect our children’s children’s children, and we decided it was our responsibility to leave a generation that we’d never see a world in revival.”

With such a far-reaching perspective, it’s obvious Jesus Culture—despite its impressive reach among young people these days—is just a sliver of the larger vision to emerge from the unique revival culture found in Redding.

“We don’t really see the revival that we’re in as a youth-generation revival at all; it’s a multigenerational revival,” Dedmon says. “Our 4-year-olds go out and heal the sick and prophesy and have encounters with God. And some of our seniors get out with Jesus Culture and jump up and down with their grandkids. … That’s the beauty of this culture. Jesus Culture doesn’t have any more appeal than the nursery—it really doesn’t. It’s not that we devalue it in any way. It’s more like, ‘That’s amazing—and you should see our nursery, or you should see our intercessory time.’”

Wherever and in whatever age group the revival is most evident at Bethel today, Johnson takes satisfaction in seeing a community still committed to ushering in God’s kingdom purposes through hungry, burning hearts. 

“We have to have people who are burning, who can display the works of Christ—the purity and power both, not elevating one over the other. They have to work in tandem,” he says. “That’s what Jesus Culture and Banning are doing. He’s hit the purity thing hard; he’s hit the miracle thing hard. They’ve got people who have never done anything in their lives who’ve come to a meeting, prayed for a blind person and eyes are opened. That’s bizarre—but that’s the life that we do here at Bethel.”

Marcus Yoars is the editor of Charisma. Though he’s fellowshipped with hundreds of churches around the world, his visit to Bethel Church in March proved to him why it’s one of a kind.


4 reaktioner på ”Charisma Magazine om Bethel Church

  1. David!

    Det är inte så konstigt att skeptikerna uttrycker sig och sågar det mesta, de är ju rädda för att det skall vara en annan ande och en falsk Jesus.

    Jag förstår dem, men tycker att det på senare tid gått till överdrift.
    Jag själv är reserverad och hoppar inte på allt och det beror på att jag inte känner igen Guds ande i mycket som sker.

    Om vi skall ha skriften som norm för godtagbara företeelser, då måste vi erkänna att allt inte är av Gud, det är tyvärr uppblandat.

    Jag har själv varit med om, att ena stunden så var Guds närvaro tydlig, sen kom plötsligt en annan ande in och band folk och det berode på vad som predikades.

    Jag kan inte förlika mig med att den sk Guds Ande kastar om kull människor, lyfter upp dem, rullar runt dem, ja, jag tror faktiskt inte att Gud gör så om det inte är frågan om befrielse, för då är det ju den onde anden som gör det.
    Inte heller tror jag att Guds Ande få människor att bete sig märkligt, varför inte, jo för Gud är helig och värdig, han skulle troligen inte få människor att bete sig ovärdigt.

    Jag har valt att inte döma varken Bill, eller några andra, känner att det inte är min sak och att man själv sätter sig på en hög häst. Men om jag skall tro att mycket av det som förekommer i dagens kristenhet, är av Gud, då får han både skriftmässigt och andligt överbevisa mig, tills dess kommer jag att vara avvaktande!



    1. Hej Björn!

      Som du skriver drivs skeptikerna av rädsla. Jag förstår varför de skriver som de skriver, men en anledning är inte nödvändigtvis en ursäkt! 😉

      Allt som sker inom kyrkan på jorden är helt klart inte från Gud! Det finns liberala tendenser, osunt fokus, brist på karaktär, en gråzon där Andens närvaro vilar över en person samtidigt som personens synd attraherat mörka andemakter osv m.m. etc. Håller med dig om att den s.k. urskiljningen gått över styr och nästan allt karismatisk förkastas. Många menar sig tro på Andens gåvor och kraft, men nästan alltid är de värsta skeptikerna cessationister i sin praktik, d.v.s. deras liv präglas inte av kraft men de tror på teologin om Anden.

      Intressant att läsa dina tankar om hur Gud handlar och inte handlar. Jag tror dock att vår definition av Guds helighet och värdighet är präglad av vår västerländskt reserverade kultur. Generellt har inte t.ex. afrikaner elelr sydamerikaner några problem med att Gud agerar mer dramatiskt. Bibeln visar oss att Gud sätter eld på berg, får marken att skaka, gör så att profeter darrar i hela kroppen och faller ned på marken, gör så att prästerna inte längre kan stå i templet m.m. I väckelsehistorien ser vi hur dramatiska yttringar ibland sker när Anden möter vår mänskliga svaghet, synd, bräckliga kroppar och förnyar våra hjärtan och sinnen och utrustar med kraft. När John Wesley undervisade föll ofta hela folkskaror till marken och vred sig och skrek av syndanöd. Metodistpredikanten Peter Cartwright beskriver hur något de börjat kalla för ”the fits” brutuit ut ibland dem. Andens närvaro vilade så starkt över människor att de började rycka och skaka i hela kroppen. Somliga sprang runt i cirklar för att få lindring eller rullade runt på marken. Det rörde sig för det mesta inte om befrielse.

      Jag tror att vi kan kliva in i ett rum där människor är utslagna och det är hög ljudvolym och tycka att det oordning. Jag tror vi kan gå in i ett annat rum där människor sitter uppradade i bänkar och följer med i liturgin och tycka att det är ordning. Men jag tror IBLAND att Guds ordning råder mera i det första rummet. Hellre ett sjukhus än ett bårbus! 😉 Ett sjukhus är katotiskt, intensivt och ibland motbjudande – men läkarvården gör framsteg och liv räddas. Ett bårhus är stillsammare och mer i ordning, men saknar liv. Jag tror på samma sätt att församlingen ska vara mer som ett sjukhus. När Guds rike bryter igenom i människors liv tror jag himmelsk ordning upprättas, men jag tror att det ibland ser dramatiskt och kaotiskt ut på utsidan.

      Jag glädjer mig över att du inte dömer Bill & andra!
      Jag respekterar att du är avvaktande eftersom du har frågetecken kring vissa saker.

      Guds kärlek & nåd!

    1. Tack Annika! Som du ser gjorde jag ett inlägg av det igår! 🙂
      Om du undrar varför jag godkände och svarade så sent på din kommentar så beror det på att min blogg sorterade den som skräppost!


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