Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Jesus Culture, Wolverhampton 28.09.10

Last night, we went to the first one night event of the Jesus Culture UK tour.

I have been really looking forward to it.

I made four observations in that previous post which I will now review.

Firstly: I want it to spend an amazing time in God's presence, as I have when listening to the CDs and worshipping quietly, and don't want to be disappointed. I literally have been overcome with emotion while watching the DVD that came with one of the albums, during the Revelation song, the spontaneous worship that comes from it, it was extraordinary.

This was a massive disappointment. Not because the worship was not good. Not because there were not some brilliant spontaneous and prophetic contributions. Not because of anything other than the fact there were no words. No words. No projectors. Nothing.

So basically they stood there waving their arms excitedly singing their guts out while I stood there like a lemon wanting to join in but not knowing all the words, and not knowing the first two songs, at all.

I believe worship is participatory and I want to get involved. I want to sing. I don't just want to stand there and watch someone standing there singing. This was compounded by the repeated assertion to "sing with me" and "all our voices singing" etc, which frankly, we weren't, hardly anyone was, because we did not know what to sing.

During a period of silence between songs it was evident that lots of people around us were simply chatting to each other and watching the gig. That was night and day from what I wanted. I don't see the point of a multi-thousand dollar orchestrated lighting rig when a £400 projector could have helped people enter into the worship. For the songs people knew (Your love never fails) it did warm up a bit and there was more involvement, but that was a major false start for me personally.

Secondly: I don't want the teaching side of it to be poor. Visits to some events/churches in the past have always been let down by the teaching, not least a tendency towards the prosperity gospel.

The talk by Banning Liebscher was excellent. Funny, engaging, prophetic and steered by a wide variety of biblical concepts. His passion for the Bible, the Spirit, the UK and revival was clear. There are things I would not agree with but then there always will be in any talk, but overall it was great. His explanation of holiness not being a list of things you don't do but about giving everything to Jesus was outstanding.

Thirdly: Linked to the teaching, I don't want to be asked for money, or be asked to "sow into a revival", or to "lay up my treasures in heaven" or anything like that. I am there to worship God, not join a band of "covenant partners" who get mailshots and gift aid forms.

Nothing like this came from Jesus Culture, even their merchandise stall seemed accessibly priced. Yet the pastor from a Wolverhampton church who were evidently hosting the evening did go the full hog with an offering, gift aid, sow into the ministry etc. It was not over the top, and my response to stuff like this is more senstivie due to previous experience.

Fourthly: I want any prayer for healing or desire for miracles to be done in a way that empowers and encourages those gathered. I don't want to feel it is over-hyped, and I want the stories / testimonies to sound really robust and clear.

I would say this was 50/50. The way the prayer time was administered was not overhyped and was very clear. People with Asthma went running out of the building and around the block and came back saying they were breathing properly for the first time in X number of years. People with shoulder injuries were moving their arms in ways they said they had not done for months. People with knees that hurt jumped and said the pain had gone. It was very down to earth, lots of emphasis on people praying for each other not the expert on the stage, and overall I would be comfortable with that approach and there appeared to be much evidence of God at work, which is great!

My one niggle was that it started with a major testimony of a man in America who had died and while his body was in the morgue his pastor and others praying annointed the four corners of the hospital with oil and continued to pray and the man came back to life. I am not suggesting this was not true, but I would have liked to know who the guy was, where he lived and which hospital it was. The point of the story seemed to be that the man was now dedicated to sharing the good news, so I would have hoped he would not have minded becoming more well known.

I don't share this to pour cold water on the story, I just think if it is true then we should be bold with the facts and if we can't be bold with the facts for whatever reason then we need to be careful. A resurrection claim would be medically verifiable and I imagine, quite big news locally. Yet I can't find it. Can someone point me to it? I want to believe it is true, but I don't know why it was an unnamed man in an unnamed town in an unnamed hospital.

Overall it was a good evening, and worth going to. I was pleasantly surprised at how laid back it was. I didn't feel pressured. If you wanted to go and throw stones I am sure you would find ample opportunity but I went with an open heart. I can't say I met with God or had a particularly positive experience because I felt disenfranchised from the worship and there wasn't anything really new.

Considering the reputation of Bethel I was surprised to not be either greatly blessed or greatly offended. And I guess that is why I am slightly quizzical this morning, because I am not sure what the big deal is, from both their supporters and their detractors.

Still, their CDs are awesome!


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Interesting thoughts! I've commented about it on Tom's blog over here:

As you can see, he wasn't impressed.

Jongudmund said...

"I want to believe it is true, but I don't know why it was an unnamed man in an unnamed town in an unnamed hospital."

It just pleases my heart when someone else says exactly the same thing that I often find myself thinking / saying / feeling when I hear an "amazing" testimony. RT Kendall made exactly the same criticism of Todd Bentley - "Where are the death certificates?"

Jongudmund said...

Oh, and if I'm honest the name "Jesus Culture" is a total turnoff for me. I wouldn't give it a second glance.

I know, I know, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, or a ministry by its name, but then why do books have covers or ministries have names?

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

I actually quite like the name "Jesus Culture"

At least it points to Jesus

I like it much more than I like Mr Celebrity Ministries

Anyone with their name in the title, now that is a total turn off for me.

Jongudmund said...

On the other hand a great spoof Christian event would *have* to be called Mr Celebrity Ministries...