How does it happen- How does a church get “Bethelized” ?

This is a great question –  that I have spent a very long time  thinking through.. the how exactly – did that   all happen..

I think to start with  its an important to understand that there is no single reason & no sole identifier of “this” led to “that”  its  complex & most probably different in  each people group/church/ ministry –  the how come’s…  All I can share is from my own experience & observations  – your own correlation & confirmation is required  if there are any dots to be joined…  I cant really do that on your behalf..

so these are my thoughts on it & it starts  for me waaaay back in 1986… those of us who have been around long enough will remember… In 1986   there began much talk of the coming revival…  there was a feeling in the wind  that  something “amazing” would happen in our generation   (I was a teenager then)   we were promised mass revival – people at large gatherings  spring harvest &   the forerunnners of New wine & Kingdom Faith weeks  & the similar  what we termed “bible weeks”  back then talked in these terms… it was an exciting hyped up time where we were told anything was possible…  long prophecies were shared about the UK  coming back to God..  “heal our nation”   from the christian band “heartbeat” was a big thing – when they got on top of the pops because we teens had all been urged to go out & buy 5 copies each of their record to get them there….. well we thought  we were on the cusp….  what we had been promised was beginning to look like reality…

there were books written called “preparing for revival” & taking our cities for God….  Peter C Wagner’s name was just surfacing in the UK  as an “expert”  in  matters of spiritual warfare  along with his books…  by 1988  we had national march for Jesus  events in every major UK  town & city held on the same day..

then ..   John Wimber…    was literally idolised by the UK church  —  everyone it seemed at that time in charismatic circles put that man on a pedestal..  He came & preached in the UK..   at Spring Harvest I think too..  I saw people literally run into the meeting to get the best seat at the front…

the local church though  –   ho hummed along as before;   all the focus was what was happening nationally-   the BIG events that localised down so that individual churches & people could plug into …   all these things were bubbling along percolating  from 1988 -1994  until a man called Rodney Howard Browne arrived on the scene…   me & some friends went to see him  at Wembley  – late 1994-   he spent the entire meeting trying to get people laughing…. he succeeded….  but I have to say  I left feeling hurt & confused as I felt that whatever God had poured out  did not touch me… instead of laughing  I just cried & cried….  people were sliding off their seats & a woman close to me was laughing but in a mocking way…   because I had seen it before…  I recognised that it was a demonic manifestation…   which RHB  & team did nothing about  – they let it continue…  that was confusing to me as the church I was in had had a few people manifest demonically  – the elders/leaders  did not let that persons feet touch the floor… they had it dealt with & stopped  as soon as you could say booo.   see there is no place for anything of the demonic realm  when the household of God meet together – we have to give it no room –  so I knew from that time something was very very wrong  with RHB   ministry..  being young & inexperienced & not grounded as well as I should have been in the word  –  I wasnt able to put my finger on it until the bethelization of our church 2010/2011

then the Toronto Blessing  Hit  —   like a brick…  people were going to meetings at HTB  & other places to get a blessing & a bit of Gold dust.. but to a large extent   it was all “out there”…   people went out to go to  it…  it wasn’t actually something that was being promoted by church leadership in the local church…  it was an accessible event just like we had been used to with everything else..  through 1990’s we had big events from the Call – to the 24-7 prayer movement   all of these things were promoted in the town…  the town wide (charismatic) leadership at this point got together & became a lot more unified –  togetherness…unity  – one heart  etc etc…  this just bubbled away…

so from 1996 ish – 2008    people were seeking the new thing of God  all of the time…  there were people who were very into everything going…   I have noticed that there is always a core group of people  in each church   who push for more & more “things of the spirit”   & by this I mean   manifestations  really    – the falling over slain –  the trance like states – before we called them that – the odd prophetic   ( prophetic art//dance/ flag waving/ & even prophetic needlework…)  Guided visualisation  presented as a journey with God… invite jesus in what does he say to you – tell us… the Gold dust…  nothing is ever enough – the call is always  for MORE

so what I think happens is this –  we were promised something special of God – we were/are the generation  to “bring it in”   so when anything “spiritual” at all happens we, corporately are so hyped for it by then – we corporately accept anything  with out stopping to weigh & discern…   those that did were considered as “party poopers”   spoiling the fun…

then April 2008  – Lakeland Florida – the Lakeland Outpouring with Todd Bentley –  screened nightly…  we must have watched most of it….  by july 2008   our church started weekly meetings that mirrored the revival…  becasue we had a united town – many flocked from other churches in …  to come get some…  some people we know went out to Lakeland – came back & prayed for fire over everyone at the meetings…  this all stopped tho once the revival came to a crashing halt…  

needless to say – people where I was felt bereft of the “good times” the soaking in God’s presence… etc. etc…  until  BJ came to town for a church wide event… from that point on the church leadership got totally into BJ & Bethel.. one by one each leader flew out to Redding to get plugged in..  & slowly brought absolutely everything back to us…

BUT Lakeland was very definately a primer   for what came next & indeed – after the leaders returned from Bethel that first time – there was much talk of re opening the well.    This leadership never asked the permission of the church about any of it – they just did it with no room for discussion  – consultation – nothing…  so then to stop &  question makes such a one the negative – anti unity – un submissive – unteachable one….  that was over my head as I left …

  • So at a basic level  at the beginnings of  bethelization – there is a core group of people pushing for  “spiritual experiences”  & a church leadership who are totally open & accepting of anywhere that desire is going to go.
  • Then there occurs a subtle shift in emphasis:    slowly  Christ  as a risen saviour- redeemer – GodMan  is decentralized

other pointers are:

  • The language, ethos & emphasis  increasingly  focuses  on a miracles, signs & wonders/supernatural  culture/…   this is pursued earnestly.
  • The process of proper discipleship with living a Godly life  day to day – working out salvation – dealing with long suffering & trials with great accountability  begins to get replaced with a drive for “in the moment”  restoration against all things that are not desirable..(in the life of the believer).  instant debt cancellation/instant healing/ restoration of relationships//   basically  the discipline of working things through & walking things out & facing up to natural consequences of actions & taking proper responsibility –  is considered  un desirable  under the context of – pray & declare  all   “bad” things away
  • The teaching – which becomes storytelling anecdotes based,  centres around one or other of these themes:  

                             >   living in the Presence of God

                             > the culture of heaven- the culture of honour

                              > relating to Father God  with intimacy   (regarding him as pappa or daddy  whilst at the same time    sidelining Jesus)

                            >  Heaven joining with earth

                            > the prophetic

                            > signs & wonders & the supernatural realm

                            > Kingdom dominion ruling & reigning as Royalty

                            > the 7 mountains mandate.

  • The worship  reflects these themes – the continuation of  prophetic elements completely spills over into what is now defined as worship   (such as prophetic art & prophetic dance)
  • Individuals who propel themselves into Bethel ways-  tend to be identifiable, any insights or corporate prayer they offer is likely to be on the same themes as above-  there is a unique way of phrasing & describing concepts – “bethel speak” –  this might include phrases such as: turn our affections…/host the presence/ get whacked/ Jesus getting what he paid for/ getting activated/ receiving Fire/God is in a good mood +  all manner of other one liners that these top leaders tweet out…  
  •  additionally, bethelised people tend to have a very high view of themselves spiritually – when full blown this leads to  such a person appearing so bold they expect to & do  take charge  in any & all “spiritual situations”  when a few get together on this basis – the noise level of the shouting, stomping & wooooah s   are extraordinary…  its like they give unsaid “permissions” to each other  to carry it on & on…  sometimes this boldness comes across as extreme arrogance & haughty superiority…  I have noticed too that they take it on themselves to have their own personal prayer & ministry session  with individuals  without  necessarily referring to an Elder or a designated pastoral team member —   some churches  dont have a prob with this but others do…   Bethelized people   tend to minister as they think fit anyway… regardless… this attitude is also taken out to the streets.

I  had a little check in my spirit at our new place as one person prayed in a meeting a lovely prayer about wanting more of the Holy Spirit & how we had to open to his leading etc etc..  & that might mean accepting things we weren’t too sure about but to trust HIS leading  etc etc…   on the face of it   – nothing wrong with this prayer…  BUT   i know from experience now that this person is exactly the type of person who I would describe as one “pushing it”   over a long time of people jumping on this “churchview”  with leaders  “waiting to see or  join in with this rolling wagon”  its only a matter of time…  similarly- the more people who get ministered to at events & other churches & manifest kundalini style the more “normal” accepted & expected it becomes…  churches who have no idea about it will have people manifesting in this way  whether they like it or not…along with everything else.. that Bethel teaches, promotes & merchandises…..

now is the time to stand together & see it for what it is…   this is the window –  in 5 years it will prob be too late.

Leaving a Bethelized Church

Leaving a Bethelized Church or one that is so far gone into the ways of error is  difficult  but not impossible.  Our God is bigger & stronger than any falseness, work of darkness & oppression – AMEN!

here are some pointers if you are having this internal conversation

  • completely get grounded in the word.   pray & seek God ask him to reveal ultimate truths about all you are experiencing in your situation – ask for clear guidance from & through his word…  keep a journal if necessary   date, index & cross reference if thats helpful to you.
  • pray pray & pray…  for your leaders, for the others in your church & yourself.   that the Lord would reveal HIS truth to everyone in the mix.  set aside time to pray specifically into these issues,  Fast too if you feel it appropriate.  deal with any sin in your life & especially put right any outstanding issues you may have with any individuals you have within the body of believers.
  • wait  on God.. & wait a little while-    observe if there is any change in emphasis in your sitution (  but also be prepared – as when we did this things actually got worse in our situation)
  • Repent of anything, the Holy spirit reveals to you as error that you have been involved in – begin practicing withdrawing yourself from those elements that are occurring in your situation   (ie may be  no longer participating in certain ministries)   always be led by the Holy spirit on this…
  • continue searching the scriptures & widen your research  –   to find out as much info as you can about the specifics of your situation …  it may be that  where you are is heavily involved with SOZO or  BSSM   so research those things particularly
  • ask questions  through this blog & others..   contact us directly if you need to

once you feel ready  & ONLY after praying & seeking God about the timing etc…   consider speaking to your leadership about the specific issues at hand.

I would recommend:

  • arrange /ask for a meeting in a neutral venue  (ie not your house)   with your leader..   ensure you have someone with you to support.  & that you will not be on your own up against a gang of 3.
  • explain your concern carefully, ask gentle but leading questions  & allow the leadership to respond – this is much better than going in with a list of  “I think THIS ”  – it may be through ignorance they have not considered some of the issues that you are now raising – so this does need to be acknowledged.
  • qualify any of the points you make from scripture & always refer to “what the word of God says”
  • Be fully prepared to hear how rebellious or anti – unity etc –  you have become in bringing this to them-  almost certainly there will be a defensive arrogance  in leadership responses.
  • Be fully prepared – to know that this meeting may clarify a need to resign..   if you feel not ready to face that possibility I would suggest not bringing these issues up until such a time…  in your heart & mind –  you need to feel self assured in what you are bringing & that there are very real consequences which may need to be actioned quite quickly after the meeting.

its quite likely that through this whole process, you will sense a great deal of confusion-   the only antidote to that is be grounded in the word…   it is our final authority & the ONLY thing you can trust in this situation to speak total truth…

*  know that there others that have done this before you, we are here to help & support & to pray for you  *

& you never know – you may be able to bring Truth to the table & a fresh perspective – which changes the direction of the leadership…   it was ugly, but has happened with one person I have known of.  I pray so  & that more will be snatched from a fire.

be richly blessed.