Book Preview: Tales Of A Conquering Generation by John Cameron

So far I have only flicked through the book but here are my initial thoughts:

1. John seems to be quite enamoured of the word “conquering” and all the ideas and imagery that it pertains to, especially in an Old Testament context where it refers to destroying or subjugating another group of people and taking over their lands and possessions.

2. The affinity for the above connotations that are invoked by use of the word “conquering” is reinforced by the shield emblem which bears a resemblance to a Knights Templar shield. The Knights Templar played an important role in the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Much of their history is steeped in blood. What does that say about the choice to include a shield-cross emblem on the front cover?
                   

3. Quotes from the introduction:

“The Book of Joshua has spoken more to me than perhaps any other. The Israelites crossed the Jordan, they possessed the Promised Land.”

“The fulfillment of the ages has come. God is again raising a conquering generation on the earth. Psalm 78 promises that a ‘generation that is to come’ will ARISE and declare God’s fame; that they will remember his works and not forget his principles. It is to this generation that I have pledged my life.”

“As we learn from the journey of Joshua and the Israelites, I pray that God will bring you into your Promised Land, so together we can be a conquering generation!”

4. When John has stated his desire to see New Zealand become a Christian nation, it makes one wonder what he has in mind with all these references to “conquering”. What exactly is it that will be conquered?

5. The references to the “Promised Land” reeks of entitlement and betrays a conceitedness and self-centeredness because of the connotation that there exist things in this world that have been divinely earmarked especially for oneself (and not for others) by Yahweh, the omniscient real-estate broker of the Old Testament.

6. The Book of Joshua is one of the most brutal books of the Bible. What does that say about John Cameron that he draws his primary inspiration from this book? Here’s a quick tally of the number of estimated deaths in the Book of Joshua.

Sixty thousand brutal deaths. This is the “conquering” that occurred in this grand source of inspiration.

(The reference used for the above statistics can be found here).

7. After briefly flicking through the pages of the book, it appears to be be John Cameron’s manual for self-empowerment. I will give a more detailed review shortly

Contradictions Of Scripture


The idea that the Bible is the perfect word of god, that it is inerrant, infallible, and free of contradictions, continues to be defended by zealous Christians the world over. John Cameron, lead pastor of ARISE Church, is no exception.

“He [god] will always remain, in part, an unfamiliar god. He will never contradict his word, he will never alter his character, but that does not mean for a moment that we have ever been able to summarise the absolute totality of what he wants to reveal to us” (The New Normal – Part 7)

This post will present instances of biblical contradictions and inconsistencies of God’s character to demonstrate that the idea of contradictory-free scripture is a false one. Verses are are mostly taken from the NIV unless noted otherwise.

Instances of Contradictions

God’s anger lasts forever (Jeremiah 17:4)

Through your own fault you will lose
the inheritance I gave you.
I will enslave you to your enemies
in a land you do not know,
for you have kindled my anger,
and it will burn forever.”

God’s anger doesn’t last forever (Micah 7:18)

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Salvation can be attained by works alone

Matthew 16:27

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Matthew 19:17

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

Matthew 25:41-46

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Luke 10:25-28

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Salvation cannot be attained by works alone (Galations 2:16)

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[d] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

God cannot be seen

John 1:18

18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[a] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

1 Timothy 6:16

—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

God was seen by Abraham, Jacob, and Moses

Genesis 12:7

The Lord [Jehovah] appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord [Jehovah], who had appeared to him.

Genesis 32:30

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God [Elohim] face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Exodus 33:11

The Lord [Jehovah] would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

One cannot see god and live

Exodus 33:20

But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

God causes trouble/calamity/disasters/evil (translation dependent)

Isaiah 45:7

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord [Jehovah], do all these things.

God is love

1 John 4:8

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Humans were created after the animals

Genesis 1:25-27

25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Humans were created before the animals

Genesis 2:18-19 (NET)

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” 19 The Lord God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

Note: The NIV translates verse 19 as “…God had formed…” but the New English Translation (NET), which can be found online here, contains a translation note about this verse saying that the correct form of the verb is the past tense, not the past perfect. This is an example of how some Bible translations e.g. the NIV, deliberately use unconventional translations to try and patch up difficult verses to make them conform to the preconceived notion of Biblical inerrency.

Or “fashioned.” To harmonize the order of events with the chronology of chapter one, some translate the prefixed verb form with vav (ו) consecutive as a past perfect (“had formed,” cf. NIV) here. (In chapter one the creation of the animals preceded the creation of man; here the animals are created after the man.) However, it is unlikely that the Hebrew construction can be translated in this way in the middle of this pericope, for the criteria for unmarked temporal overlay are not present here. See S. R. Driver, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew, 84-88, and especially R. Buth, “Methodological Collision between Source Criticism and Discourse Analysis,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, 138-54. For a contrary viewpoint see IBHS 552-53 §33.2.3 and C. J. Collins, “The Wayyiqtol as ‘Pluperfect’: When and Why,” TynBul 46 (1995): 117-40.

Jesus was the only man to ascend to heaven

John 3:13

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

Jesus wasn’t the only man to ascend to heaven

2 Kings 2:11

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

In Old Testament law, children were to be punished for the sins of their parents – Deuteronomy 5:9

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Children weren’t to be punished for the sins of their parents – Deuteronomy 24:16

Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.

God never tires or gets weary – Isaiah 40:28

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

God gets weary – Isaiah 43:24

24 You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me,
or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins
and wearied me with your offenses.

How many men drew the sword for Israel, as counted by Joab?

Eight-hundred thousand – 2 Samuel 24:9

9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.

One million one hundred thousand – 1 Chronicles 21:5

5 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah.

How much did David pay for the threshing floor?

600 shekels of gold – 1 Chronicles 21:25

25 So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels of gold for the site

50 shekels of silver – 2 Samuel 24:24

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[a] of silver for them.

How many men were killed by the chief of King David’s captains?

800 – 2 Samuel 23:8

8 These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:

Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

300 – 1 Chronicles 11:11

11 this is the list of David’s mighty warriors:

Jashobeam, a Hakmonite, was chief of the officers; he raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

How many of the criminals, who were crucified with Jesus, taunted and insulted Jesus?

One – Luke 23:39-42

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

More than one

Matthew 27:44

44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Mark 15:32

32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

How many women visited the tomb of Jesus?

One – John 20:1

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

Two – Matthew

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

Three – Mark 16:1

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

At least five – Luke 24:10

10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

How many heavenly entities were found to be attending Jesus’s tomb?

One – Matthew 28:2

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Mark 16:5

5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

Two – Luke 24:4

4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

John 20:12

12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

God loves people

Exodus 34:6

6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

God mete’s out the punishment of death for seemingly trivial offences

Death for fortune telling – Leviticus 20:27

27 “‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’”

Death for hitting a parent – Exodus 21:15

15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death.

Death for cursing a parent – Leviticus 20:9

9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

Death for not listening to a priest – Deuteronomy 17:12

12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel.

The Religious Demagoguery of Gillian Cameron

A collection of selected quotes from sermons delivered by lead pastor of ARISE Church, Gillian Cameron. Links in the titles and time stamps have been given for each quote. This post will be updated periodically with fresh quotes.

ARISE Conference 2016

@5:58 See here we see this great king. He was anointed by God. He starts off so well. He has faith. He has faith for battle, he has faith for this part of his life, he has faith for the fight, he has faith for the public arena of his life. He does so well and you know what, an amazing miracle happens because of his faith. He goes from seeing, you know, what should have been insurmountable odds: He should have lost. He only had half the number of men to face this Ethiopian. He didn’t have anywhere near the amount of fighting men that should’ve taken on this challenge and yet we see that because he asks for the Lord’s help, he has the victory. He has the victory in the public arena of his life.

What happens to this great king, this great king who we’re inspired by his faith in this part of Chronicles? Unfortunately, let’s see what happens later on. It says this later on in Chronicles, “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa developed a serious foot disease”.

Say “yuck!”.

[Audience: “yuck!”]

Say “ooo”.

[Audience: “ooo”]

Say “he needs help”.

[Audience: “he needs help”]

Well maybe some foot powder.

“Yet even, even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians, so he died”. I think this scripture is so amazing because it’s showing us…I believe it’s in here because perhaps he should have asked the Lord for help. You know, instead of actually just thinking I’ll just go to my doctors, I’ll go to my doctors. Look, we should seek professional help, absolutely. Doctors have been given the wisdom of God. However, he turned only to his physicians. And it’s such a sad thing for the people of God to turn only to the natural resources when we have the supernatural resources of heaven that have been made available for us by the cross of Jesus Christ.

@9:30 You know, Romans 8:32 says, “Since he did not spare even his own son”, this is God the Father, “since he did not spare even his own son, but gave him up for us all won’t he also give us everything else?” So if we were to ask God, what greater thing could he give us than what he has already done? There is no greater thing more precious to God than his own son. If he was willing to give his most precious thing already to us then how much more will he give us what we need? How much more? He wants to bless us, he wants to prosper us, he wants us to be in health, he wants us to have what we need, he wants us to be a blessing, and in Jesus name, if we begin to get this on the inside then anything is possible for him who believes.

@11:46 There are no accidents in scripture.

@14:16 You know, sometimes I think in the Pentecostal Church, perhaps we’ve been encouraged to shy away from a name it and claim it culture. I wanna encourage us Christians: let’s get our naming and claiming on, let’s get our faith on, let’s start to declare that if we have been faithful God will be faithful to us, that if we have not withhold…God certainly is not a withholding god, he is a generous god. He supplies all our needs, all our needs in Christ Jesus. If we ask for it according to his will he will supply.

You know, this morning, sometimes we just have to activate that belief that God wants to bless us and then begin to pray and declare that his provision is on the way.

@17:27 Somebody give God a praise that when we sow in faith there is a reaping in faith. My friends, we’ve gotta combine our faith with our giving if we wanna declare the promise of God. Don’t just give, believe. Give believing God will prosper you, God will prosper you. He wants to bless you. If he didn’t withhold Jesus he will not withhold, my friends, what we need to graciously do his work. In Jesus mighty name.

You know, this morning, I think in this room this morning at this conference that there are many people believing God to own a home, for a new job, for a promotion in their job, for their business to grow. There are people who are believing for things, waiting for things. My friends, name it and claim it. Begin to declare Malachi Three over you financial position because we are not bound to the world’s economy. We are not bound to that economy. We are the people of God living by a supernatural economy, not tied to the worlds markets, not tied to Brexit, not tied to anything around the world that takes place in the political arena, tied only to our understanding of the supernatural blessing that Jesus Christ has made available for us. Can I hear an amen this morning.

[Audience: “Amen”]

@19:58 You know, when we are personally needing healing, I believe we are to ask others to pray for us. I believe if someone needs healing we are to pray. Let’s turn to James chapter five verse fourteen. It says this, “Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick and the Lord will make you well, and if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.” See here in this scripture do we see any doubt? Do we see any hesitation from this Holy Scripture, from this god-breathed word to us, from this living word? Do we see any doubt? No, there is none. If you pray, you will be healed. Just like God will bless, just like God will prosper, God will also heal. Such a prayer will heal the sick.

@22:01 It’s an interesting thought that these two scriptures connect because you see, when Jesus healed the paralytic man, the first thing he said is, “Your sins are forgiven, your sins are forgiven”. I wonder if all the sick person needs to is get themselves right with God, is just get their heart right with God because then we see in this other scripture, “Confess your sins and you will be made well”, when you have the prayer of faith. So it is only up to the sick person to get themselves right with God and get themselves ready for the miracle that God wants to do and is willing to do in their life. You know, by faith we can access healing. This does not mitigate, however, the sovereignty of God. This does not deny the fact that his ways are higher, that we don’t understand why healing is delayed, or why healing is sometimes full life in heaven. You know, death on earth but life evermore. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s sovereignty in this matter but what we do need to understand is that Jesus was made perfect through his suffering; that God does not make us sick and he may delay our healing to bring something through us that he needed us to get on the inside, but God never wants us to stop asking. He never wants us to stop asking and believing.

@23:58 C’mon Christians, maybe you’ve accepted that diagnosis. Maybe you’ve accepted this is the will of God. My friends, ask for healing, look for the Lord to heal. He is willing to move on your behalf. If he can raise up a paralytic, if he raise the dead, then surely the spirit of the Lord can bring breath into your lungs, and the spirit of the Lord that raised Christ from the dead will lift you up my friend. We don’t stay bound in our sickness because Jesus has taken it captive by his work on the cross.

This morning, believe again, hope again, ask again, pray again. God is willing, my friends. Just get our heart right and get ready to receive his miracles.  By faith we need to receive that prayer, confess that we are healed.

@26:13 Exodus chapter fifteen, “For I am the Lord who heals you”. Oh, somebody, somebody, “I am the Lord who heals you”. Somebody! Oh stand to your feet. “I am the Lord who heals you”. Maybe you’re believing for a loved one. Maybe you’re believing for something to shift in your body. Pastor Jenson prayed last night there was healing happening in this meeting. Perhaps you felt something shift. It’s gonna happen again. You’re gonna know that the spirit of the Lord is at work within your body giving life to it, that you are gonna be raised back to full health. My friends, he is able, he is able, he is the Lord who heals us. Lift up a praise in this place in Jesus mighty name. You heal us Lord. You deliver us. You are the Lord who heals.

@28:25 You know, I’ve got a great friend who’s part of our church and her name is Ann. And Ann came up on stage in a meeting just like and she got prayed for, for healing. And she said even as she was on stage she felt the power of God move through her body. She said, “You know what, I was standing there. I knew God had healed me”. But she was telling me that the next day, she woke up the next day and her symptoms were back. Her neck was sore. She was uncomfortable. She had a choice that day. Was she gonna listen to that and think, “Ah, was just a tingle in the moment. Maybe I just thought God did something but God’s not powerful enough for it to actually keep on going”. Or am I going to say, “You know what, I’ve been healed. God has begun to do something in my body. I felt a physical change in that moment and I know that God is gonna complete his work of healing in me. He will bring to completion every good thing concerning me. He will lead me in triumphal procession in Christ”.

By Faith

@4:51 I believe that in New Zealand we’re gonna see an amazing move of god, we’re gonna see this nation won, we’re gonna see things that haven’t been seen. I believe the devil’s been throwing everything he can at us because we’ve started to build ARISE HQ, and you know what, it’s dominoes, all I can see is dominoes. As soon as that is built, oh my goodness! The devil knows that the next building, the next building, the next building, the next building, the next building, the next building, the next building, the next building, up and down this nation.

God Pleasers

@19:40 Would Noah have built an ark if he was living for the approval of people? Would he? I don’t think he would have. If Noah had cared more about what people thought, you and I might not even be here today.

Fabricating Allure

12742714_10154585399009676_8976127953171716366_nYoung people are impressionable, emotionally vulnerable, have an innate desire for community and fellowship, and often have internal questioning about purpose and existence. ARISE exploits these traits of young people to rather lucrative effect. They deliberately target youth because they know that is the best opportunity they will have to reach people, when their minds aren’t sufficiently developed to guard against deceptive teachings. To this end they recruit mainly through schools and universities.

ARISE Church has a particular message which they have crafted to be appealing to young people. It could best be described as positive self-help through Jesus. They focus on positive thinking and deliberately emphasize certain ideas meant to take advantage of one’s own perceived flaws, deficiencies, and failures. Some of these ideas are:

  • All humans including oneself have been deliberately made by God. You are special and unique because God made you that way.
  • There exists a God-given purpose inherent within everyone which is discoverable through a relationship with Jesus.
  • God doesn’t see your flaws but sees your potential.
  • Faith in Jesus will prosper you in every facet of ones life. This includes health, finances, employment, marriage, relationships, and personal goals.
  • If one has faith in Jesus, then one will triumph over any adversity, which will provide a demonstration to others of the “truth” of Jesus and the benefits being a Christian.

ARISE Church endeavours to provide an upbeat, vibrant atmosphere at it’s services. They want to be viewed as a place that is fun and exciting because this appeals more to young people. Everyone is happy and smiling; everyone is pleased to see you, and to an impartial observer this behaviour is uncanny as it feels like a superficial veneer put on for purely appearance purposes.

The ARISE church services follow a particular recipe that has been refined and employed to great effect by other churches (I’m talking about mega-Churches like Hillsong in Australia). Services are manufactured to give the illusion of a legitimate divine encounter. That’s the hook. What you are required to believe regarding the beliefs and doctrines of Christianity and various events in the Bible is only partially revealed this point. It’s all about a personal relationship with Jesus.

The service begins with a “praise and worship” session which is crafted to invoke feelings of euphoria and transcendence. This prepares the emotional ground and puts one in a receptive mood. Then there is the sermon where the congregation is given a rhetorical masterclass expounding the ideas and themes mentioned in the bullet points above. At the end of the service, the congregation is subjected to an emotional appeal to non-Christians to receive Christ as the greatest gift they will ever get. This combination has a powerful and profound effect on people, especially young people. They are helplessly tethered to their emotions and any cognitive barriers which are in place are effectively overcome. This leads to surrender of the self to allow Jesus into ones heart. This is the ultimate goal for ARISE Church: to get as many people to make a decision to follow Jesus.

For new converts, ones perception of Christianity is based on the initial emotional experience. This experience is what gives the belief in Christianity validation and reinforces the truth of its claims. After that, ARISE progressively introduce you to the Bible. You are told about sin being the reason Jesus died so that he could redeem mankind; about heaven, hell, prayer, miracles, and God’s will. Gradually you are introduced to weirder parts like baptism, Adam and Eve, talking snakes, talking donkeys, angels, demons, and Noah Ark.

ARISE Church runs a youth service on a Friday night called “Elevate” and they have tailored it so that it is more appealing to young people. The music is more upbeat and the atmosphere is cultivated so that it feels like a “party”. The design and format of the service is similar to the one as described above including at the end, an appeal being made to a captive audience of young people to give their hearts to Jesus.

ARISE Church makes no secret of their intentions to infiltrate schools and universities. John Cameron has explicitly stated his desire for ARISE Church to win entire high-schools and universities to Jesus Christ. Whatever that means in practice however is not stated.

I think the methods that ARISE Church uses are very dishonest and deceptive. They employ emotional manipulation as a way to accomplish the recruitment of new members. They deliberately exploit young peoples innocence and credulity, take advantage of their other cognitive traits already mentioned, with the goal to foist upon their impressionable minds a biblical worldview of sin and salvation by Jesus as well as give them a spiritual self-help toolkit that ultimately delivers false hope and false promises.

The Religious Demagoguery of John Cameron

This post is a collection of selected quotes from sermons delivered by the lead pastor of ARISE Church, John Cameron. Sermon titles and time stamps have been given for each quote so that one could potentially verify them should one feel the need to. Original audio material can be found at iTunes and then searching for “ARISE Church John Cameron” as well as at the ARISE Church YouTube channel. This document will be continuously updated as more sermons are transcribed.

Misbelief 1

35:10 You know it’s amazing that in Genesis chapter two verse nineteen that we’ve got Adam and God, and the Bible says that God brought to him every kind of animal and then God said to Adam, “What are you gonna call it?” And then- it’s on your screen hopefully- that Adam named the animals, and whatever Adam named them, God said, “Yep, alright, that’s what it’s gonna be called from now on.” “Adam, you can choose. Adam, you can decide.”

Misbelief 2

16:15 “Misbelief first jumps into the Bible with Adam and Eve. I mean, you know, here they were created by God, ruling and reigning over the world and then sin enters and the Bible says they’re so afraid that they hide in the bushes. They’re filled with a sense of we are useless, we’re nobody. God turns up and says, ”What’s going on?” And they said, “Well, we were afraid because we were naked so we hid.” And God just says, “What, hang on, who told you that, where did that misbelief come jump into your way of thinking and seeing, that you see yourself that way? That is not a right belief, it’s a misbelief and the symptoms of that misbelief are seen in the emotions of your life.” We’ve got Adam who was hiding.”
30:14 That’s like Gideon, who is in a wine press, a little scaredy-pants, yet when God turns up in his life, God looks at him and says, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valour.” We think God’s lying. No! Gideon has been living with a misbelief, and coming face to face with God, Gideon began to realise it’s a symptom always. He was fearful, he was doing nothing, he was burying his head in the sand, he was unable to deal with conflict. I mean these are themes, and God said to him, “Stop allowing your misbelief to rule your life.” Flip over a page in the Bible and we’ve got Gideon with three hundred warriors confronting the army of Mideon and winning a great victory for his nation.
32:38 Oh what grace I found in you my Jesus that my soul should entertain your greatness. If this life holds nothing but my Jesus, then I will praise you.
36:13 C’mon, if you believe that Jesus is victorious, then no matter where you are I want you to stand to your feet and give our God one great shout of praise this morning.

Start to Finish

21:04 This is one of the things I appreciate about Tony Clark. He’s been my friend for the whole journey of ARISE Church and one of the things I love about him is his life is constantly about what he felt God spoke to him about many, many years ago. I mean, he’s got a family now, he’s got pressures, but I love you Tony because you’re just committed to always advancing that mission that God’s got on your life. It’s like I’m not, I’m going to keep the blinkers on, I’m going to learn Chinese, I’m going to go forward, gonna influence governments, gonna change the world. And it takes a lot of guts to stay through every season of your life saying I’m gonna remain just as on fire, and just as focused and just as sacrificial and just as determined as I was when I started.
29:00 Now listen, in the book of Exodus the bible talks about Miriam and Aaron and it says they began to speak against Moses, began to speak against Moses. Then God says, “You guys come out to attend a meeting. I wanna have a chat”. God turns up and says, “Alright, here we go, Miriam, you now have leprosy and I am going to finish what you have started.”
34:39 We talked about the fact that God started creation, and he finished creation. Everything he’s started, he’s finished it. But break it down for me my friends, because God just didn’t start and finish creation, he did it in stages. So the Bible says the first thing he did was he said, “Let there be light and darkness”, and he created the chronology of time. The sequential nature of this universe that intolerates [sic] our finite existence was the first day of creation. And that’s all he did, he said, “That is first!” Then he said, “Okay, now I need to separate the expanses, I need to have water, I need to have land and I need to have sky. Gravitational fields, the fact we have an earth and there is not just water and earth and everything everywhere. God said let there be, and this where the universe really began to take shape. Was not just through an explosion but because of the hand of God upon it. He said, “That’s day number two”. Then day number three, he says, “My Lord, we’re gonna have some plants, we’re gonna have some trees, we’re gonna have some vegetables”. This is incredible by the way because that’s what he did on day three, he laid the, he laid the structure of fertility and multiplication on day three. But check this out, it’s not until day four, that the light came and enabled that which was already created to begin to flourish. So God literally says, “I’m gonna get it ready, and then turn the lights on.” How cool is God. And then in day five, the bible says he created the birds and the fish, in other words, everything in the ocean, everything in the sky. And then on day six he created the animals. And once he’d done that he breathed life into a lump of clay and as a result of that came humanity and life and the breath of God is our lives which is why we are the pinnacle of all of his creation, because he chose to breathe life in to it. But look at it my friends, it is actually a construction of something God built progressively over time. This just absolutely blows me away because really what God wanted was to get everything ready for you and I so that when we came into this world, the whole universe would be ready for the arrival of us. And then he said, “Now you rule and reign over everything that I have created.” Check this out, if you start and finish the wrong thing first, then you don’t rule and reign over it cause now you’ve got a lot of stuff that’s actually at the bottom that should be at the top.
38:53 In other words, what you’ve started, you’ve got to finish it, and you’ve got to keep going until you finish it. It struck me as I was preparing this message the longevity with which the heroes of the faith had to keep going before they finished what they started. And it seems to kinda go down over time, but Noah was 500 years old approximately when God told him, “Build the ark”. But the bible says it was after his six-hundredth birthday that he entered the ark.
40:17 But think about Noah, a hundred years building that ark.

You Tell Donna

30:20 That’s why we pray like crazy for the harvest to come in.
32:40 At best, teens in New Zealand; thirteen, fifteen per cent go church on a Sunday. Eighty plus per cent don’t. We can’t cater to the needs of those who have been in it for so long at the detriment of those who have yet to find it.
34:18 Why do we do what we do? Why do we do Sunday church. Why do we do Friday youth. The answer: We do what we do with our church services with our number one goal that lost people find Jesus. It trumps all other decisions. It is above every other want and whom and fancy that lost people find Jesus.

Get Your Provisions Ready

And we’re gonna spend some more time in this book this year because I believe that god has called our church, ARISE Church to be a Jordan crossing, promised land possessing group of people who will defy every obstacle, every boundary, every limit that has ever been spoken over God’s church and do something amazing for Jesus. If you believe that that might be possible in this church, then shout yes!
8:45 Joshua has just become the leader of the greatest move of God the world has ever seen, the Israelites leaving the wilderness and literally taking over the land that is now called Israel. An amazing moment, an incredible movement of God on earth.
9:05 This must’ve sounded weird to a generation of Israelites who had lived with a constant supply of mana every morning and quail every evening for the last forty years provided for by God.
13:14 The last ten [years] was believing that we could build a church that would defy boundaries. The next ten is believing that we could build a church that will impact an entire nation for Jesus Christ. C’mon, who says we can’t do it, start ten more campuses in the next ten years, reach every segment of this nation, from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South? Be part of reaching a nation for Jesus. Changing statistics. Seeing Christianity flourish in abound. Seeing people find hope and life and faith in Jesus Christ. C’mon.
15:12 I believe that this is a season where God’s saying over many people in our Church, “Get you provisions ready.” That he wants you to have more influence in your high school teenagers than you’ve ever had before.
19:57 I’m not reading it to feed you, I’m reading it to change me, because if I haven’t got a bigger Jesus then I’m not gonna take this church forward into the bigger thing that God’s got for it.
36:56 I’ve got a commitment that every single bay of that balcony will be filled with people who find Jesus Christ, that we would progress forward and see a city won and a nation impacted, lives come alive, promises kindled, hope for the hopeless, freedom for the captive, c’mon, that Jesus is the answer, the reason, the one we worship.

Testify

12:22 But the Bible tells us in Genesis that God spoke, and there was light, that he sent out his word and it performed it, that he said let there be living creatures that will fill the waters. And when he said it, that’s exactly what happened.

Faithcation-Faith for God’s Promise

10:34 From there that’s not the end. The reason why I’m believing that we can do this with either or just a very short term loan is because change a nation in the next ten years. Christchurch needs a campus. Hamilton needs a campus. What about Dunedin, other cities, Palmerston North, I dunno where god’s gonna send us. I kinda do but I don’t wanna say it out loud. But we’ve got a great future, we’ve got ten years of expansion, changing a nation, doing something great for god. This is our vision, this is our future, this is what god has called us to do, to do something great for him. And as we move towards this future that god’s got for us, I believe this is an amazing season for our church and a season where we need faith.
12:22 Hebrews eleven also tells us that through faith we conquer kingdoms. We’re not here to conquer the, you know, the, the civil kingdom of New Zealand but we are here to conquer the kingdom of darkness that is at work within New Zealand. To see, to see animosity go out of relationships, brokenness go out of hearts, addiction flee from people, to see suicide eradicated, marriages strong and healthy, salvations come to life, pornography vanquished, prostitution out of business. We are here to empower life and wholeness and healing and love and grace and forgiveness and blessing and joy. We’re here to see the kingdom of God come at work. We are here to put to nothing the things. We are here to see the kingdom of god established and it is faith that enables and it is faith that enables us to achieve this for our god.
17:34 And then the next thing that happens is Abraham gets to verse six, and the bible says that he got there, and when he got there, the bible says that god said to him in verse six, “And I will give you the land upon which you are now standing”. Go, show, give. Go to the land. I will show it to you. When he got to the land god said, “I will give it to you”.
35:34 Does anybody believe we can change a nation for Jesus.

Faithcation-Faith and Hope

12:32 Thanks be to god, we are being led in triumphal procession in Christ. But that triumphal procession is not just tiptoeing through tulips. It’s about the fact that no matter what hardship comes your way, greater he that is in you than he who is in the world. That’s what it means to live with an expectation that is inline with the faith that we have in our Jesus. Great preaching John this is so good. God is good. Our church, our church at the moment is just so, I think, pregnant with that sense of expectation. And god wants us to live like that. He wants us to live, I mean I’m here in Christchurch tonight. For those of you in Hamilton and Wellington, it’s a long weekend let’s be honest. Cantabrians go away for long weekends. And this place is full with people, I mean it’s just alive. We’re out of rows at the front but we’re also going back. It’s filling up with people. Jesus is on the move. We’re seeing amazing things take place. I mean, man I was in Wellington this morning, it was just alive, sense of expectation in Kapiti. We baptised eighteen people. I mean in Hamilton we’re experiencing growth. We’ve just purchased this amazing block of land in Wellington. Five thousand square meters. One and a quarter acres. And on two Sundays time on the tenth of November we’re gonna receive an offering and as one church in four different locations I’m believing we’re gonna raise seven hundred thousand dollars that day and be able to buy that land outright. And here’s the thing, everything that we do in any campus of ARISE empowers everything that we do in every other Campus of ARISE. So we’re all-in in Christchurch, we’re all-in in Wellington, we’re all-in in Hamilton, because one step leads to two steps. I’m so excited about what God is doing here in Christchurch tonight, but I believe god wants ARISE in Christchurch, excuse me, to be right at the centre of a new Christchurch. As this phenomenal city is rebuilt out of the ashes to become something great for the glory of our god, I think the church should be at the centre. It should be shouldn’t it, because the city is called Christchurch. We’re gonna build this campus in Lower Hutt, we’re gonna build on here in Christchurch, we’re gonna move forward.
21:24 Somebody just needs to do some stargazing tonight, needs to look out and realise that if god made all those stars and then said, “Hang on a minute, you’re greater than a star, you’re greater than any problem, you’re greater than the sunrise. You are god’s pinnacle of creation. He made you and he’s the best thing he has on offer. He painted that sunrise just for you to have a good morning. You are the good morning. You’re putting the good back in to morning. Tell somebody near you.
27:27 I don’t know about you but I’m finding that in my life as I’m entering into this next season, I’m so fully persuaded that god is gonna move in this nation, more persuaded than I’ve ever been before. Living more out of that conviction that the promise of god is alive for us, that New Zealand is going to see a move of god in our nation, that the church is ripe for god to breathe upon it, that god’s got something great in store just around the corner. We’re gonna make a decision whether we’re gonna waver through a want of faith and live our lives just being driven and tossed around by circumstance and pressure and what’s coming our way.
30:53 I believe that what we’re doing in the next season of our church is gonna be the most exciting season. I really just wanna just take a minute and speak to every venue tonight and say, as we receive this offering on the tenth of November, I’m believing that we can rock seven hundred thousand. I’m personally holding a faith goal that whether with no mortgage at all or with a short mortgage over a couple of years we can build that Lower Hutt campus and pay it off outright. Why, because I don’t want to spend the next ten years of our journey moving slowly and incrementally towards something. It is going to be a powerful force for change for what god has called us to do in the Wellington region and in the nation and the equity is going to empower us to do so much more. But I believe god wants us to move towards it speedily. Seven hundred people giving a thousand dollars. Seven hundred grand. Done. There are people who are literally just gonna decide this is the moment because it’s all going in to building equity, land. It’s time to write that check for fifty thousand, time to write that cheque for a hundred thousand. If we rock seven hundred thousand it’s just going towards phase two, the construction of the building that will go on it. But I’m believing that we can move so much faster. I really am. This next ten years. Let’s believe that we can build a church that’s growth rate is literally unprecedented. And that, and that many other churches experience the same. We’re not the frozen chosen, we’re not the only ones. But this we can influence. This we are part of. This is not just an empty prayer for revival. This is substance, this is power, this is change for a nation. This is the future of the church in Aotearoa. This is what we are a part of, somebody shout amen. See, c’mon, let’s believe together for something incredibl… in your own life. I’m believing, I’m believing for a church filled with conquerors, filled with people whose lives are a testimony to god’s greatness.

Keeping Your Edge

8:12 And that’s what happens when Jesus jumps into your life. You leave goodbye the world where the Devil holds you in slavery, where sin’s got it over you, where hell is your ultimate destination. Because of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, over your life, you are now set free.
10:37 We recognise that God is going to do something quicker, God is going to do something bigger in Whangerei than he’s ever done in generations that have gone before, and in order for us to do that we have to leave behind perhaps a way of even thinking about church that can get too small. We’ve got to embrace something bigger as we build not just a local church in different environments, into a church that can touch one city, no, that we build a church that can touch a nation with the love of Jesus Christ. A united company of believers from Northland to Southland who can partner together to see the name of Jesus lifted up, to see people won for Christ, to see the love of God put back at the centre of our nations agenda. C’mon, if you reckon that can happen, why don’t you pause and give God some praise, c’mon.
12:40 And I believe that for the church of New Zealand, that for the church of New Zealand, there have never been more opportunities for us than there are in this season, that with the changes in technology, with the present state of our New Zealand Climate, that this country has never been more ripe for revival than it is right now.
14:52 We’re believing in these days that we’re gonna build a church of influence not just for a city but for a nation. We’re believing that through changes in technology and strategy that we can now network together a company of believers from the top of New Zealand to the bottom of the South and see this company of believers empowered. Not an up/down model of church but a groundswell model of church that propels life groups to be in every location, everywhere in New Zealand, not bound by geography, not bound by buildings, not limited by any means, but able just to touch people wherever they are. We wanna build the church that puts resources in the hands of believers, that empowers the harvest, that says we can reach that school, we can reach that uni, we can reach that workplace, we can reach that town for Jesus Christ. That’s the kind of church that we’re committed to building. We’re committed to building a church that in every city where there is an ARISE campus, that ARISE campus is large and prominent, and cannot be hidden. We wanna build a church that is so portable that it’s accessible to the smallest of towns in the most remote of locations. It has access to prison’s, retirement homes. It can access people no matter where they are, and we can build a church that through God’s people in a spirit of unity might actually have a shot at changing a nation for Jesus Christ.
16:26 Embrace the favour that is ours.
24:23 We’re also gonna do some things online. We’re gonna do some things with little microcampuses in prisons and rest homes in places all over the country. How about we believe that we can minister on a Sunday to fifty thousand people in ten years time?
I’m not afraid of moving beyond because we have got to make sure that no matter where we are in this nation, that we keep our edge.
29:53 We’ve got to be committed more than ever to reaching teenagers in high school, university campuses, people in work places.
32:11 We started the first decade of ARISE Church with a small vision. We thought it was big. There had never been a church in over a thousand people in Wellington so we said, “Right, we’re gonna have a vision in our hearts to put a church of influence for the city of Wellington. It’s gonna fill large indoor arenas. We’re gonna do this thing” Ten years later we kinda outgrew the vision. Now we’re saying we’re gonna build a church of influence for the nation of New Zealand.
33:00 Let’s get some big vision. We’re trying to rewrite the script of what it means to be a church of this country. To believe that we can create resources that flow down into Christian believers. We wanna build a church that is without walls, without geography, without limits. We wanna build a church for everyone, everywhere, campuses from the top of the Island to the bottom of the south. We wanna give the ability for church, any group, any people, anywhere, who wanna have one of our services linked in to where they are to make that possible, so we can empower the church in Motueka on the West Coast and in Auk…wherever, wherever you want it, that we can go there. We’re saying, “Man, let’s get a big vision. Let’s believe for five thousand life groups in ten years time. Let’s believe for an army of believers that can touch a nation for Jesus Christ. Let’s get a vision that’s gonna blow our socks off and inspire us to grow.”

Diminishing Doubt

8:55 And because his [God’s] resources, his riches are infinite, his supply is limitless. So it doesn’t matter what’s going on in my life, what I am lacking, whenever somebody is lacking something, if you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. Here, let him ask, because God has the ability to meet whatever need we have in our lives. Can you get an amen to that one. Let him ask of God who gives to all generously without finding fault. Man that is one of the most encouraging phrases in all of the scripture. “Who gives to all, who gives to all.” In other words, he gives to everybody. He’s not a respecter of persons. He doesn’t have a precious few that he wants to help out and a lot of people who should just, you know, have no confidence and whether God cares about them or not.
18:42 I’m a Pentecostal Christian, born and raised a promise believing, you know, a faith person from the time I came into this world. I grew up sleeping in a sleeping bag under church rows hearing that God can do it, that God is big, he heals, he prospers, he restores.
He gives to everybody, he’s not a regarder of the individual. He has no special few who can be confident in his provision and others who should doubt. What he’s done for one he wants to do for all, amen
39:53 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said we believe he’s good, he’s gonna help us, He didn’t, he threw them in the furnace, but then he turned up in the furnace.

Troubling the teacher

29:13 and as I looked up towards the stars I heard god speak into my heart, I knew it was his voice, and he said, “If you ask me I will give you nations.”

The oil is in the new bean

33:14 See, what makes church exciting is mission. See, Elevate, Elevate exists so that we can win high-schools for Jesus Christ. Some Elevaters shout, “Yeah boy!” HUGE! Exists so that we can win university campuses for Jesus, someone shout, “Yeah boy!” But listen, it’s about every age and stage. You know God’s given to our church huge open doorways to teach Bible in Schools. It’s literally in our New Zealand law that churches and people of religion have to be allowed in to schools for thirty minutes every week to talk about religious things. Well I reckon that what they need to see is not just a grandma whose sixty five-although God bless her, I’m not speaking against her- but they need to see someone in their thirties, someone in their twenties, someone in their early forties, whose part of a vibrant and alive church who actually loves Jesus, got some energy, saying to a whole new generation of New Zealanders, “My Jesus is alive, he loves people”. C’mon, somebody needs to be salt and light. We’re on a mission! C’mon. Children’s about mission. Young Inc. C’mon if you’re over twenty five, you’re in Young Inc, you’ve got a salary, somebody shout amen. Enjoy it, enjoy it, and save. But anyway, you’ll never have more money than you do right now, I’m telling you. But, you know, if you’re part of Young Inc., it’s not just a kinda we’re gonna sit round drink cappuccinos, it’s not about that. It’s about the fact that this city has more young worker, people between the ages of twenty-five and thirty, eighteen to thirty, more people in that age bracket than any other city in our nation by an over ten per-cent. This is the young worker capital of New Zealand. And so we have Young Inc. because it exists to win your workplace to Jesus Christ. C’mon, because people move to Wellington, are looking for hope, looking for life, looking for friends, and we exist to win a workplace. Young family life groups. It’s about the fact that you go from someone whose got a whole day to hang out, to basically ninety minute sound bites in between feeds, nappy changes and sleeps. C’mon, if you’ve got young kids you know what I’m talking about. And it can be a lonely stage. So what better than a young family groups filled with people who are great parents, or trying to be, you know, and are also just loving and kind and know Jesus. C’mon we got adult life groups so that we can win communities to Jesus. Young family life groups so we can win young families to Jesus. Young Inc. life groups so that we can win our workplace to Jesus. Young adults ministries so that we can win university campuses, we can win high schools, we can win our world, we’re on a mission from God.

Thoughtpocalypse-Part 3

8:15 You know it’s so easy in life to live without the right kind of thinking and therefore to not live the right kind of life. God’s got a purpose for every person in this room. Every person in Christchurch, every person in Hamilton, there is a purpose for why you are here, a purpose for why you’re alive. You’re not an accident. Many people think that they’re just kind of here by chance, somehow we’re just, you know random, amoeba and, you know, monkeys, and off we come, here we are, some distant cousin from a Chimpanzee and, you know, we’re just all kind of this one big set of random…I’m so grateful that I know that there is a creator to this universe. Purpose in every life. Purpose in every day. Purpose in every person. There are no random people, no leftovers, that God never made a mistake. God never looked down and said, “Whoops, really stuffed up that one. Hope I do a better model next generation”. God looked down and said, “You are exactly the person that I want you to be. You are right here in the right time that I wanted you to be here. Your life is brilliant, you are special, you are unique, you are talented, and you are breathed by God”.
20:54 but then I began to realise that there was a greater purpose for my life, began to take these thoughts and channel them towards God, spend time in prayer, spend time memorizing his word. Something came alive in my life and man, then I began to realise that I was on this planet for more than curtains and carpet. I was on this planet to do something for Jesus. Man, I’d pray, and I’d see stadiums filled with people, I saw high schools being won to Jesus, saw shopping malls, saw revival, saw New Zealand covered in fire, knew that God was gonna do something great with my life.
23:28 You start thinking, “Man, man, if Esther, if Esther can rise to be a queen of her generation then so can I impact this nation for God”. You start saying, “Hang on a minute. I’m not a worthless nobody. I’m not left out. You can throw what you want at me but God put me here for a reason. And you know what? I’m not a nobody, I can change the nation, I can impact a school, I can affect a generation”.

Thoughtpocalypse-Part 2

28:25 Imagine something worthy of praise. Look, the doctors can say what doctors…doctors say what doctors know but I’ve found in life, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. And I’ve found in Jesus, the healer, the deliverer, the saviour of the world, the one who can turn anything around. And we can know what we know, but we’ve gotta focus on who we know ‘cause all we need is found in him. It is found in Christ and in Christ alone, the hope of glory. Fix your imagination on the good things of God my friend.

HODOS-Why Were You Searching For Me

28:13 Many people try and fill their life by just searching the Scriptures. I believe in searching the scriptures but Jesus said, “You search the scriptures because I them you think that you have life. But you will not come to me and I am the one who gives you life”. And there is a difference between a head that has been educated about religious activity and a heart that has been changed by devotion to the god of our worship. There is a difference. And God calls to us for something deeper and the longer they searched in Jerusalem the longer their search came up null and void, and if there is something missing in our lives we’re never gonna find it by just trying to educate ourselves, to protect ourselves from perhaps religious whatever that is out there. You’ve gotta come to a point, we’ve got to come to a point, if we and Jesus in our lives then we look for him not with open Bibles and just, you know, a defensive stance, but we find Jesus on bended knees with hands that are lifted up. You only find Jesus in surrender. You only ever do.

The many and the one

If God could find tonight some young man, some young woman who would say, “I am gonna pursue a different course. I’m gonna look a little bit unusual to some people. I’m gonna stand out”. And God could use you. He could do something great through your life. Whether he calls you in to education, media, politics, government, workplace. I don’t know. Maybe God calls you to family life. Maybe God calls you to the mission field. Maybe God calls you to the ministry. It’s not about a special few for a special purpose, it’s about a whole lot of individuals that God has got a plan for that are in this room tonight. And together we can change the world!

The old has gone and the new has come

10:40 When you think about baptism it goes all the way back to Noah, this man who built this ark and went through the flood and, you know, 2012, the movie that came out a couple of years ago, had arks in it, you know, the…the Mayan calendar comes to an end. We’re living in the post Mayan era, I’m encouraged by that. But you know, in the movie 2012, they literally built arks to get through the flood, the you know, they know what’s coming in the waters. But the first guy, the one they borrowed it from was Noah who went through the flood waters, out of the old into the new.

Horizon – Part 2

10:46 I’m here in Whangarei this morning because I believe God’s got a promise for New Zealand, that he wants to do something in the church of Aotearoa. I believe that the greatest days for the church are in tomorrow. I believe that the greatest days for the church in Whangarei are not today but in the future. I believe that God’s got a great plan in mind.
22:17 Imagine if thousands of believers this morning were willing to say, not just in Whangarei but across New Zealand, “We believe God has got a plan for the north of New Zealand.” Imagine. Imagine if a group of people said, “I am going to be willing to believe that God’s promises for the North are as real as they have ever been. That what began here is gonna continue to move here. That we will see, not just one generation see revival, but every generation be recipients of revival”ARISE is driven by a belief that we can see New Zealand won for Christ
I mean, man, we’re believing that New Zealand teenagers are going to connect with God. We’re believing that Whangarei is going to see its teenagers not just partying on a Friday night but worshipping Jesus on a Friday night, on a Sunday that they are going to be in Church. We’re believing for hope and promise for young…Whangarei young people.

Fresh water in the ocean

39:35 People might be here this morning, perhaps in Kapiti, maybe here in Wellington, and you’re literally saying to yourself, “I don’t know how I can do that. I mean I would love to be a fisherman on the shores but literally don’t know a single non-Christian”. I mean, maybe you are here like that, or maybe you’re feeling like there’s something more that I need to do. Well you know what, it’s possible through every sporting fixture, every time you go to the gym, every interaction you have. But you know what, there’s also things like Bible in Schools. You know as a church this is for us, I feel, a new season that we’re entering in to, is to make that, you know, Bible in Schools teachers are getting older, while our church is getting younger, and I feel like God’s saying, “Hey church, how about you don’t just look at that, how about you do something about that”. So we’ve been talking to the people who run Bible in Schools across the country, and saying what if we just decided to encourage our congregation to engage in Bible in Schools because, you know, we don’t want the next generation of New Zealanders coming up without knowing that Jesus died for them, that the Bible is the word of god. It’s a huge opportunity. Um, Ivan will be out in the foyer, there’s a big stand out there, isn’t it? You can sign up today if you’d like to. Kapiti, I’m sure you can sign up as well. It’s half an hour a week. You’re just teaching Christian values, the word of god, literally the Gospel, to students. It’s a massive opportunity. And I for one don’t want to see another Dominion Post front cover with a kid in a Catholic School uniform in a Zen meditation posture. We’re going to do something to see a new generation of New Zealanders know that Jesus loves them. C’mon somebody.”
31:53 Three years ago, the Lord laid a heavy challenge on me. He said, “Would give me Isaac [referring to the son of Abraham who was almost sacrificed by his father]”. Um, 2011 I literally travelled literally I think about four continents on the globe; spoke at many, many significant conferences. ARISE was blowing up and everybody wanted to hear our story. Plus, I was the thirty-something pastor with the church that was rapidly growing. And the phone was ringing, the invitations were coming, the invitations were coming, the twitter followership was going up hundreds every single week. Everything was great. My wife was like, “I can’t believe it. Look at how many people follow you.” I’m like, “I’m kind of big around here.” And in the middle of all of that I began to feel the pull of heaven and God spoke into my heart, and he said, “John, would you give up the world, to win one nation” I mean my journey since then has had other instructions from god and there’s always things on the other side of your surrender. But the challenge was would you give up the world to win one nation. Would you exchange London for Blenheim, Sydney for South Auckland, Cape Town for Te Awamutu. Would you be ordinary?

Rolling Back the Reproach

11:12 I’m grateful for a Jesus who didn’t go to the cross so that people would always rip me off, so that life would always do me wrong.
12:17 And my friends, you’ve got to know that there are dual realities happening in every believers life in this room today, cause you’re born into slavery to sin, yet you live in the courts of the king. Paul said, “My body is a slave to sin, yet my spirit is alive in Christ.”
13:40 Listen guys. Wait up, pause, check, have a little mental assessment. Your future is dependent on you. It’s not shaped by your parents. It’s not shaped by the family you came from. Our nation is ours, it’s yours, it’s mine. We can do something great for God. We get to write the next chapter of New Zealand’s history. Oh man in this room we could do something amazing for Jesus, but at the end of the day, it really comes back to what we believe about us.
15:30 Now note church that the god who is saying this is the same god who said let there be light. In other words, when God speaks he creates, he shapes, and he defines. And when God said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” He wasn’t making social commentary, he was declaring spiritual reality. He’s saying, “If I said it, it’s done; deal, seal forever. I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”
20:10 Somebody give that god praise tonight.
22:55 How stupid are people who are saying we should legalise cannabis in this country, it destroys brain cells. It’s not okay to destroy brain cells. I mean I’m against alcohol, you getting drunk on alcohol as well, but at least you’re not going to destroy someone’s mind. I mean I’ve got friends who have just smoked cannabis, and they can’t even remember what they did yesterday just because they had too much of it. Now listen, it’s not good.
Heroes
2:17 Verse three. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at god’s command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
2:47 Verse five. By faith Enoch was taken from this life so that he did not experience death. He could not be found because god had taken him away, for before he was taken he was commended as one who pleased god.
4:26 When I sit down to talk about my faith with my children they say, “Why does everybody in our school not believe in Jesus. How come they don’t all believe in god? And we say, “Well kids, that’s because it requires faith to believe in a god that you cannot see. But children, have you experienced that god, do you know that god”.
6:34 Our hope is that New Zealand will be won, that our families will be impacted, that we will win back a lost generation to Jesus, that teenagers will sweep in to the church, that the church will not become an old accompany of believers, but like our church, the church of New Zealand will be populated with a new generation. C’mon, give the Lord some praise in every campus. That the church will rise as a people of answers to the challenges of Aotearoa, that we will, we will see god’s plan advance. That’s our hope.
14:29 I don’t know what you’re looking at in terms of limits, but I know my god has none. He can use anybody who gives their life to him, anybody who puts him first can change their generation for Jesus
18:34 Church, we have to take ground for Jesus.
22:50 Oh my gosh, I believe with all my heart that the greatest days of what god is going to do in New Zealand we are yet to see. C’mon
24:07 …and I’m here to tell you that if you put god first we can see god do something amazing. We can see the greatest testimony for god that a generation has ever seen in the days that are ahead of us. We’re here to take ground for Jesus. If you believe it say amen this morning.
24:37 We held hands in February across every ARISE campus and prayed together and said we are the church planting team of ARISE church for the next ten years and man, I believe that with all my heart. I believe it. I believe we’re stepping in to something powerful. I believe we’re launching in to something new. I believe we will see New Zealand won for Jesus.
27:28 You know what? Disciplined action is moving him forward. And there are people who are Christians who are doing too little for god for too long, too long. You are who god is going to use. Step up. Get rid of what hinders you. Move forward. Open your home, open your heart. Move forward. Let’s take a nation for Jesus. I believe that literally maybe about four-hundred people hearing my voice right now and god’s saying to you specifically, “It’s time to live like he’s alive. It’s time to live like he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Push forward”. I’ve got four points for you and no time but let me throw them out because I’ve put some time and they’re worth sharing. Number one: If we’re gonna earn the commendation of heaven in our generation we need to invest in a greater tomorrow. We need to make an investment not into today but in to tomorrow. We’re gonna build this campus in the Hutt Valley, we’re gonna pay it off. Then we’re gonna move on to the next one and spend the next ten years moving forward in resources that will position our church to touch this nation for Jesus. It’s a season where we have to invest not in to what we’ve got, but in tomorrow.
30:02 We need to make in investment right now to see the future that we wanna see. You know we’ve got, we’ve got right now like two or three buses parked outside this Michael Fowler centre, it’s awesome. But I was driving out last week and god said, “You’ll need a car park for buses in the days to come, a car park for buses”, because we’re gonna bus in a generation who are gonna find Jesus. Man it’s costly, but let’s invest in greater tomorrow, let’s take ground for Jesus. C’mon, let’s move forward, amen.

Encounter

7:30 Church, if there’s one thing I know, it is that you and I as Christian believers were designed to have on going and regular encounters with our Jesus.
11:23 We last year, last Sunday sorry, announced our vision for the next ten years of ARISE Church; encounter, community, mission being the process and the three things we are really committing to because we recognise as a church community that if our church is really going to move forward in to the great things that God’s got for it, we need more of us to live our lives out from a God encounter.
20:01 Notice that when God begins to speak to Jacob in our passage of scripture he never imposes himself upon Jacob. He says, “I am the god of your father Abraham, and I am the god of Isaac.” And then he begins to prophesy over his life, but it is Jacob who makes the decision to say if this god is real then he will be my god.
20:52 Some people in this room have had great families and a lineage of faith. Others come from brokenness and turmoil. But you know what, no matter what your family background has been like, the moment God intersects your life and becomes your god, then your family begins to make sense at that moment, your life makes sense, your challenges, your family setbacks all just got turned around in to one great-yeah give god praise this morning- that your life counts.
39:23 Adam and Eve, every evening the Lord would come and walk with them in the garden as a man talks with his friend, he would talk with them, and you and I were designed by God for a living relationship with the king of kings and the Lord of Lords.

The Cult of ARISE: Part 1

arise-as-a-cultIn the next three posts I will be discussing the topic of cults and how ARISE church meets all of the characteristics of a typical cult. In this post, I will lay the groundwork by providing an analysis of cult behaviour. While doing this research I came across a great video on the topic by YouTuber “Sargon of Akkad”. In this video he does such a brilliant job of dissecting and analyzing cults that the best way to present this blog post was to provide a verbatim transcript.

Cult Behaviour: An Analysis (a video by Sargon of Akkad)

Dr Arthur J. Deikman was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. His main focus of study was on popular mysticism and he became a pioneer of humane psycho-therapeutic treatments for sufferers of psychosis. His works often focussed on the psychology of the patient, their emotional drives and consequent reactions to frameworks of belief. He coined the term “Mystical Psychosis” to categorize first person descriptions of psychotic episodes that strongly resemble religious experiences. He studies numerous new religious movements that became fashionable in America in the 1960’s and 70’s to uncover what made them so attractive to educated, affluent white people. The results of this work was the book, “The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behaviour in American Society”. This video is an analysis of that book.

What is Cult Behaviour?

Cult behaviour in an interleaved pattern of behaviours that enables specific kinds of groups to form, sustain, and grow. We characterise these groups as cults because of the specific behaviours exhibited from all members of the group with varying levels of frequency and intensity. Quote: “The structure of cults is basically authoritarian; obedience and hierarchical power tend to take precedence over truth and conscience when they conflict, which they often do. Unfortunately, certain psychological benefits can make authoritarian groups very attractive-they provide the opportunity to feel protected and cared for” [Page 73]. These often unwitting actions taken by individuals are both practical and performative. They serve to reinforce the cult in direct ways by providing necessary boundaries, structure, and normalcy, and also signal intentions and loyalty to both members of the group and potential recruits. It is important to note that the cult is a manifestation of key extreme behaviours on the part of many individuals. Not all groups, not even tightly knit ones become cults if members exhibit some of the cult behaviours. Quote: “What I wish to stress is not that every group is a cult, but that cult thinking is the effect of psychological forces endemic to the human mind, and that these forces operate in the everyday life of each of us; they distort perception, bias thinking, and inculcate belief.” [Page 49].

Characteristics of Cult Behaviour

Deikman states that there are four basic interrelated behaviours that are found in cults in extreme forms.

  1. Compliance with a group
  2. Dependence on a leader
  3. Devaluing the outsider
  4. Avoiding dissent

Diekman believes these behaviours stem from a desire to regress back to a childlike state, one in which the individual is cared for by a loving parental figure so they can abdicate responsibility for their own well-being. He terms this desire “The dependency dream”. Quote: “The regressive wish for security that uses the family as a model, creating an authoritarian leadership structure (the parent) and a close-knit, excusive group (the children). Since the leader-parent has many of the insecurities of the follower-child, reality must be distorted by both to maintain the child’s illusion (or wish) that the parent can always provide protection, that he or she has no weaknesses. Dissent is stifled because it casts doubt on the perfection of the leader and the special status of the group. Group compliance preserves security by supporting the beliefs crucial to the fantasy of superiority, beliefs which also explain the powers and entitlement of the leader and can no more be challenged than he or she. Outsiders, non-believers, are excluded and devalued for they do not believe what the group believes; if the group and leader are superior, the outsider is inferior.” [Page 48]. Diekman likens this feeling to a child relaxing in the back seat of the car while their parents drive. The person wishes to regress to recapture this feeling of security, safe in the knowledge that the loving parent is in total control.

Compliance With the Group.

Diekman observes that in childhood, a person’s family life moulds and prepares their expectations for adult life. When people join groups as adults an informal family structure can still be detected. Certain members of groups naturally become dominant, adopting parental roles, while others become subordinate, adopting child roles. In most groups, these are usually quite faint, and what we would describe as leadership and agreeability. Psychiatrists have long known the power that groups can have over their members and Deikman proposes this is due to a dependency that develops within some groups and supports this with references and work from various other psychologists. Deikman speculates that this is likely to have come from a reason rooted in evolutionary psychology. Quote: “Human survival has been enhanced by the tendency for families to combine in bands or tribes for mutual protection and support. As banishment from the larger group could endanger an individual’s survival, an acute sensitivity to the group’s wishes and requirements probably carried an evolutionary advantage. Socially aware, adept individuals would eventually dominate the gene pool through the process of natural selection.” [Page 54]

In a cult the desire to comply with the group metastasizes into full blown group think with the group demanding and justifying total control of the lives of its members. Cults often discourage or disrupt married couples and their families to sever existing dependencies, incentivising the individual to become increasingly dependent on the group. This commitment to the group becomes emotionally gratifying. Acceptance by the group becomes uplifting and nurturing, engendering a feeling of safety, security, and homeliness. Cults often reinforce this by using altered states of consciousness such as praying, chanting, meditation, singing, dancing, sleep deprivation, or substances. Cult behaviour is at its most pernicious when operating on people who have no friends or contacts outside of the group. In these situations the group has total control over its members who are hopelessly dependent on the cult for emotional and economic support.arise-as-a-cult-2

Dependence on the Leader

All cult leaders are authoritarian. It’s easy for an authoritarian leader to encourage cult behaviour to strengthen their own position and solidify the cohesiveness of the group they command. A willingness and desire to obey the leader, the parent figure will be rewarded with approval and benefits which gives a strong incentive to group members. The leader is usually respected for their admirable qualities and accepted despite their less admirable ones. Cult leaders enhance their reputation by suppression of less desirable information and a constant emphasis of their virtues. And the cult leader is selling a dependency fantasy that is willingly purchased by the group members in exchange for their own personal freedom of thought and action. In exchange for their autonomy, they are guaranteed the protection by the leader and by extension, the group. The cult leader is afforded a special status due to the burden of responsibility put on them by their followers. This plays into the fantasy of infallibility that a group derives security from and buttresses the leader’s power over them so that any defence of the leader, no matter how obviously contrary to reality, can be justified. Quote: “When a leader’s actions conflict with the group’s principles, standards, or values, followers may twist words and meanings to reduce cognitive dissonance and maintain the fantasy.” [Page 78].

Deikman describes the process as Orwellian doublespeak used to justify the otherwise negative actions of the leader in order to preserve the more important myth of their absolute power and goodness. Quote: “A leader’s role is more complex than it might appear. As powerful as he or she might seem, a leader is also the captive of the group and may not fail the group’s expectation or waver on the pedestal. If a leader does, the group may annihilate him. The leader, as much as the group members, wishes to believe that an omnipotent, perfect parent is possible. And when a person assumes the mantle, he or she participates in the fantasy as faithfully as does the follower.” [Page 76].

The power the leader has over the followers is not only based on fear. The leader uses the group member’s idealism usually made as an appeal to the greater good. Often this is couched in hypothetical abstract or metaphysical terms such as structures, systems, or demographics and plays directly on an emotional desire to do good over evil. Quote: “This appeal to the perception of a larger reality, to unsatisfied idealism and the wish for meaning can be very powerful, and can be put to good or bad use.” [Page 81].

The leader empowers the group by giving them a source of confidence and righteousness that enables them to delegitimise dissenting points of view through the air of authority the leader carries. The surrender of the self to the group and to the leader is at once comforting and uplifting because it plays directly into the desire of the individual to feel protected, welcome, and wanted while at the same time maximizing the power of the leader thereby reinforcing the fantasy of the leaders power in a self-sustaining, ever-intensifying loop. Quote: “There is no place in such groups for reasoned, independent judgement; no free will, no responsible choice, only literal adherence to sacred text as selected and interpreted by the church leader or organization. With surrender, the authority of the leader is maximised, the follower feels relieved of uncertainty and choice and can then experience the ‘bliss’ of someone who has ‘returned home’.” [Page 89]. Deikman refers to this kind of veneration of the leader as a form of idolatry and suggests the group falls into a version of Milgram’s “agentic state”, abandoning their personal autonomy to see themselves as little more than agents carrying out the commands of the leader. The mythology the disciples build up around the leader is, of course, almost entirely fiction. The leader has no special powers, no magic spells, and rarely even any unique knowledge within the collective. The leader and the group are cut from the same cloth. The flock has made a shepherd of one of the sheep.

Devaluing the Outsider

The allure of the cult is the fantasy of security which is deeply entwined with the sense of togetherness and belonging. In order to create that fantasy firm lines of demarcation between the group and outsiders must exist. The distinction between group member and civilian is important for building a sense of being special, being different. The group needs to feel that they have not only made a good choice, they have made the best choice. People outside the group obviously do not share this belief which should raise doubts about the wisdom of the decision and so must necessarily be devalued wherever possible. The reason they refused the cult and chose to remain as part of the out-group was due to some intellectual, emotional, or moral deficiency which is, of course, the very reason the participant chose to join the cult in the first place. Deikman believes this stems from the childlike desire of the followers to have their parental figure be the most powerful and wise to maximise the feeling of protection for members of the group. They feel comforts and bliss that calms their anxieties. Partisan cult behaviour is so common people hardly realise they’re doing it. Quote: “Devaluing the outsider is probably the most common cult-like behaviour in everyday society, where it takes the form of regarding one’s opponents as if they were a homogenous group with only negative traits. Bad motives are attributed to the other, but not to oneself. This devaluation is usually done by designating the adversary as, for example, ‘stupid’, ‘rigid’, ‘lazy’, ‘reactionary’, ‘bleeding heart’, ‘cold’.” [Page 101].

Outsiders are devalued by projection. This is when group member attribute to outsiders personality traits that they themselves possess but wish to deny. Projection is a way of protecting the self from punishment and rejection by applying negative personality traits to others we are inferring that we do not also suffer from them. Quote: “Projection offers protection from the anxiety of being bad and the punishment of being abandoned. In addition, by making other people bad in our own mind, we can legitimise behaviour toward them that would otherwise be morally unacceptable, even to the point of sanctioning cruel and vicious actions.” [Page 103]. “The effect of projection is often a perception of the other person as being fundamentally different, a morally inferior species, undeserving of empathy.” [Page 103]. “Projection protects us all from what we fear.” [Page 104]. Projection is infused with self-righteousness to increase moral security. If the group member represents all that is good and the outsider represents all that is bad, it is natural to feel morally superior. It allows the group member to separate the world in to a false dichotomy in which they have chosen the sacred path and the path the outsider has chosen is profane. Cults project decadence onto the out-group to preserve the righteousness of the in-group. This projection of morality onto others is scapegoating. The sins of the in-group are transferred to the out-group and then cast out. Once the scapegoat has been determined to carry the group’s sins for them, anything is permissible. It becomes acceptable to hate the out-group. Quote: “Perhaps the most important thing to understand about devaluing the outsider is that it is a necessary preliminary to harming others, to doing violence. Whether the conflict is between nations or individuals, the attacker devalues the victim prior to the violent act.” [Page 102].

Suppression of Dissent

Dissent is a corrective component to discourse. It anchors a person in reality and is necessary for a healthy and accurate world view. However, dissent is rarely emotionally gratifying. It is natural to see a contradiction as an attack and to egotistically reflexively deny any arguments or evidence that do not fit a person’s existing beliefs. Quote: “Only a lively appreciation of dissent’s vital function at all levels of society can preserve it as a corrective to wishful thinking, self-inflation and unperceived rigidity.” [Page 138].

A cult is a group fantasy created and maintained around specific beliefs for the emotional protection of its members. If information or opinions exist that contradicts the dogma or goals of the group, the only protective measure the group can take is suppression. Thus the core philosophy of the group becomes rooted in the distortion, if not outright fabrication of reality. This censorship does not have to be as overtly authoritarian as one might imagine. Quote: “Reality may be distorted by simply screening out dissenting views without the outright censorship seen in totalitarian countries; reality may be distorted by giving great prominence and validity to the established view while devaluing dissenters and making them marginal.” [Page 114].

Partisan groups often fall into cult behaviours and find it particularly easy to ignore outside views. When the group has an agreed upon dogma, to indulge outside perspectives brings in unnecessary doubt. This becomes a source of weakness and divisiveness for the cult and must be expunged. Quote: “The exclusion of doubt has a price. Intellectual parochialism may be fostered by restricting contact with outsiders and by building walls of indifference, or in the most extreme cases, hate.” [Page 143].

Confirmation bias is a method by which the group ensures the integrity of its beliefs, whether they are grounded in reality or not. Ideologically motivated groups are usually inclined to consume media that reinforces their world view. Dissenting views are summarily dismissed as belonging to outsiders and thereby being wrong by definition. This happens because members of the group want to believe. To maintain the fantasy of the infallibility of the leader and the subsequent feelings of safety and security they provide to the group it becomes necessary for the group to police itself without any intervention from the leader. The group members police one another not only to ensure the integrity of the shared delusion but also because this policing increases their power within the groups internal politics. Due to the authoritarian nature of cults suppression of dissent is often confused with loyalty to the group. This creates a predisposition towards secrecy covering up any immoral or unethical actions by the leader or other group members and increasing the power and control of the group over its members by omission of information. Combined by the conformity demanded by the group, the devaluation of outsiders, and the cultivation of feelings of specialness, group members welcome this echo chamber mentality and even encourage it to protect and further their higher purpose. Quote: “We want agreement for our beliefs so we can feel the security of being right. Dissent threatens that, it reduces our status, our certainty, our claim to privilege.” [Page 146].

Isolation from the outside further increases the intensity of cult behaviours and the subsequent emotional reaction to having these patterns of behaviour disrupted. Quote: “Cults further restrict dissent through decreased contact with non-members. Outsiders are likely to raise critical questions about the leader and the group’s activities, thus weakening the group fantasy. In addition, as discussed earlier, outsiders are a threat because they may be sources of support, self-esteem and comfort, offsetting the need for the group. Research suggests that the fewer social ties a cult convert had before joining, the more likely it was that he or she would remain in the organisation.” [Page 124].

As dissent is suppressed for emotional reasons, it becomes a source of emotional stress if it cannot be avoided. Critical thinking is curtailed to prevent wrong-think and maintain the integrity of the group. Any facts that cannot be ignored are classified as lies created by the now hated out-group and any cult members caught spreading them are necessarily punished. Quote: “In such extreme cases, the individual’s perception has to be narrowed and critical thinking suppressed. Groups have effective means of doing this.” “Groups, as well as leaders, may punish dissent or deviation when maintenance of the super parent fantasy requires that no imperfections be revealed lest the whole structure be put in jeopardy.” [Page 79].

Ironically, the suppression of dissent makes people more vulnerable to propaganda. Deikman gives the example of American prisoners of war he interviewed who had been captured by the Chinese during the Korean War. The American soldiers had been prevented from hearing arguments against America or capitalism. Quote: “He had been susceptible to their arguments because, coming from a small Midwestern town, he had never heard the United States criticised and was impressed that some of their criticism was undeniably true.” [Page 147]. “Not having been exposed to dissident views, he had been a sitting duck for skilful propaganda; indeed, most of those who were similarly won over were from unsophisticated environments.” [Page 148]. When exposed to an alternative world view that contained elements of truth that had been withheld, it becomes easy for a person to uncritically accept the new world view over the half-informed old world view they had previously held. In both cases the world view is inaccurate but the person being manipulated does not understand this.

The Life of a Cult

Deikman gives us a comprehensive overview of the life of a cult. From pages four and five, quote: “The variety of personalities involved, of differing racial, economic, religious, educational, and social backgrounds, was impressive. What was most striking was that no matter whom we interviewed, the stories of involvement in exploitative, harmful cults was similar. A distinct pattern of seduction, coercion, corruption, and regression emerged, no matter what the outward trappings, no matter what dogma or purpose the group espoused. Basic human responses had been elicited by a process fundamentally the same. At the time they joined their particular cult, most of the people we interviewed had been dissatisfied, distressed, or at a transition point in their lives. Typically they desired a more spiritual life, a community in which to live cooperatively; they wanted to become enlightened, to find meaning in serving others, or to simply belong. An encounter with an enthusiastic, attractive, friendly person served to introduce each of them to a group whose outer appearance was quite benign. At some point during that introductory phase an intense experience took place which was interpreted as validating the claim that the leader and the group were special, powerful, spiritual; that they could give the person what he or she wanted. This experience might have been an altered state of consciousness (induced by the leader or the group via meditation, chanting, or the laying on of hands), a powerful therapeutic experience, or just a wonderful feeling of being accepted and welcomed – of coming ‘coming home’. Won over, the newcomer joined the group, embracing its doctrines and practices. Soon the cult’s demands increased and the new member was asked to devote increasing amounts of time, money, and energy to the group’s activities. These demands were justified as necessary to fulfil the group’s goals; willingness to comply was always interpreted as a measure of the recruit’s commitment and sincerity. In order to continue, most did comply, sacrificing much for the sake of the stated high purposes of the group (often put in terms of saving the world). Relationships outside the group became difficult to maintain. The former life of the new member was given up; contact with outsiders was discouraged and the demands of the new life left little opportunity for extra-group activities. However, the sacrifices were compensated for by the convert’s sense of belonging and purpose. The group and leader (at least initially) gave praise and acceptance. Gradually, however, an iron fist was felt. Deviation from group dogma brought swift disapproval or outright rejection. The message to the convert became clear: what the group had given, the group could take away. In time, he or she submitted to-and participated in-cruel, dishonest, and contradictory practices out of fear of the leader and the group, who by then had become the convert’s sole source of self-esteem, comfort, and even financial support. Actions that conflicted with the convert’s conscience were rationalised by various formulas provided by the leader. Critical evaluation of the leader and the group became almost impossible, not only because it was punished severely, but also because the view of reality presented by the cult has no challengers. Discordant information was excluded from the group’s world. Exploitation intensified and the recruit regressed into a fearful submission. Couples might be separated, members would inform on each other. Morals were corrupted and critical thinking suppressed. Often the group’s leader deteriorated as well, becoming increasingly grandiose, paranoid, or bizarre. In most cases, paranoid thinking tended to mark the entire cult and reinforced the group’s isolation.

Our witnesses told of how, eventually, the demands became unbearable; a mother might be told to give up her child or her husband, or a spouse directed to take a different sexual partner. Although often the person would agree to the new requirement, sometimes he or she would not. In such cases, when the member finally refused to comply with the leader or group’s demands, he or she left precipitously, often assisted by a person outside with whom, some contact and trust had been maintained.

Leaving such a group was a flight because the group’s reaction was known to be severe and punitive. Apostates were excommunicated.”

Where Do Cults Exist?

Cults are social organisations and so can exist almost anywhere in modern society. Deikman observed that cult behaviours and thinking are so pervasive that that almost everyone in society can be considered to part of various invisible cults. Almost all people exhibit some cult behaviour in their daily lives. Almost everyone conforms to group norms in some way, are dependent on one or more leaders, devalues those outside of their groups, and avoids media that does not confirm what they already believe. Deikman suggests this cult thinking is embedded in our societies but is, usually, not all encompassing enough to be considered an actual cult. Usually, people do not have the opportunity to voluntarily prevent themselves from receiving outside information or opinions and cannot chose to entirely disassociate themselves from people with whom they disagree. Even when cult thinking manifests in social groups, it’s rarely to the extent and intensity of an actual cult. Quote: “In ordinary society, the cult processes of censorship and decreased contact with outsiders are often found, but in diminished intensity. Censorship of discordant information and isolation from heretical outsiders is usually done voluntarily rather than at the insistence of the group, although expression of deviant views is seldom encouraged.” [Page 148].

People of like mind tend to associate with one another for many reasons and this provides the foundation upon which a cult mentality can be built. Instead of creating a space to interrogate any shared beliefs, the group becomes an exercise in mutual validation. Censorship becomes the de facto norm creating what Deikman terms as “social ghettos”. Quote: “Eventually, we in the seminar were unable to maintain the belief that cults were something apart from normal society. The people telling us stories of violence, cruelty and perversion of values were like ourselves. After listening and questioning we realised that we were not different from nor superior to the ex-cult members, that we were vulnerable to the same dependency wishes, capable of the same betrayals and cruelty in which our sense of reality was manipulated.” [Page 7].

Why Do People Join Cults?

The most common misconception about cults is that the people who join them are crazy. This is not true. People do not join cults because they are crazy. In fact, people who have severe cognitive and social handicaps probably cannot successfully join a cult and participate in one at any meaningful level because of the degree of emotional reciprocity a cult requires to function. Quote: “After listening to many variants of this story [people’s reasons for joining a cult], I began to see that cults form and thrive not because people are crazy, but because they have two kinds of wishes. They want a meaningful life, to serve God or humanity; and they want to be taken care of, to feel protected and secure, to find a home. The first motives may be laudable and constructive, but the latter exert a corrupting effect, enabling cult leaders to elicit behaviour directly opposite to the idealistic vision with which members entered the group.” [Page 6].

Intelligent, well educated people join cults because they simultaneously desire a sense of working for a higher purpose and because they are afraid of being on their own. They are people who wish to regress back to the security of childhood so they can feel as if there is still a benevolent and omniscient parental figure watching over them. This makes cults and cult behaviours highly appealing to people with low levels of emotional maturity. The promise of security, order, direction, and certainty appeals to people who are not confident in their own ability to provide these things for themselves.

How to Leave a Cult

To the cult member the cult is a secretive, all-consuming fantasy world that is opaque to those outside of it. Reality is distorted so that there is one source of evil on which all of the cult’s problems can be blamed and anyone outside of the cult is an agent actively working against the group to undermine and destroy it. To leave a cult, one must first understand that they are part of a cult, invisible or not. Deikman offers six behaviours one can identify in themselves to establish whether or not they participate in cult thinking.

  1. Speaking of adversaries or outsiders as if they were all the same; characterising them by negative traits only; attributing unflattering motives to them but not oneself.
  2. Lacking interest and information concerning the actual statements and actions of opponents or outsiders.
  3. Failing to consider the possible validity of an adversary’s point of view.
  4. Not taking a critical look at one’s own position.
  5. Disapproving or rejecting a member of one’s group for departing from the group position, devaluing the dissident, regarding him or her as an annoyance or a problem.
  6. Feeling self-righteous.

Leaving a cult is extremely difficult because cults prey on the emotional instability and dependency fantasies of their members. To an outsider it might seem that there is little forcing an individual to remain in the cult. Ostensibly, they possess freedom of movement and self-determination but from the perspective of the person within the cult, the cult is all consuming. All of the people closest to them direct and reinforce their cult beliefs. They bully them in to compliance with the group and withhold companionship and affection when the individual attempts to dissent from the group’s narrative. This puts an individual under tremendous duress. Not only will they be unable to pursue their higher purpose through the group, they will lose their entire social circle and in many cases, are financially dependent on the cult to live. These pressures are often insurmountable and so people become trapped in cults even if they appear physically to be able to leave. In addition to this, Deikman puts emphasis on the special nature of cults and how they maintain their cohesion by making their members feel better than others. The devaluing of outsiders combined with the veneration of the leader and group make an egalitarian world view very difficult and unsettling. This is what Deikman calls “the eye level world”, a world view in which the person views other people as their equals rather than their inferiors. After a prolonged period of projecting negativity on to outsiders it is understandably difficult to become an outsider oneself. Quote: “In the service of realism, it is important to diminish projection and establish an eye-level perspective, for in our fears, hopes and capacity for nobility as well as self-deception, we can recognise each other, see that the ‘enemy is us’.” [Page 165].

The capacity to see the humanity of the outsider is key in breaking out of cult conditioning. The cult fosters a distorted perception of reality that is an intellectual hindrance to the cult members. It is very difficult to admit one’s need to be humble and abandon self-righteousness. This goes directly counter to the atmosphere fostered by the cult and the person’s dependency on feelings of moral superiority to give them emotional security. Leaving a cult is traumatic and it requires deprogramming. It is difficult to remove the lens of the cult and view the world in a more realistic, rational way. The cult’s member’s fear of abandonment becomes an obstacle which is enhanced by increased authoritarianism from the group brought about by the cult member’s skepticism and lack of cooperation. The dependency fantasy is used against them as, ironically, threats of ostracism are levelled to prevent the individual from wanting to leave. It is very rare for a person to voluntarily leave a cult without any kind of outside influence. In most cases, people can only leave a cult when provided with a lifeline to people on the outside. Given the homogenous, deliberately insular nature of cults, the cult member has likely defooed their friends and family and repeatedly affirmed that people outside of the cult are bad people working not only against the group, but against the individual’s own higher goals entirely. Electing to join a group the cult has demonized is challenging. Trusting someone from outside of the group is a very difficult affair, even for a cult member who realises that they are in a terrible situation that they desperately want to leave. It usually happens when a cult member has stayed in contact with a family member or long-time friend, someone close to them, whose bond they have been unable or unwilling to break. On returning to reality, the person often finds themselves in need of therapy. They have endured a traumatic experience and need to adjust to life in the real world, in many ways resembling the rehabilitation of prisoners. The most important thing to remember is that these people are not insane and that this could have happened to anybody.

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Expansion: The ARISE Centre

In the last two posts I provided the transcripts from two sermons in which John Cameron talked about the inspiration behind the ARISE Centre and where it fits in with his vision and purpose for ARISE Church as an organisation

We’re gonna build a church with campuses everywhere, with small groups covering an entire nation.

We’re gonna build a church that is mobilizing believers, multiplying disciples, raising a new generation of leaders, rapidly expanding, increasing in influence, and reaching a nation for God.

A church that see’s life to every spirit, love to every heart.

A church that empowers believers to reach their world for Christ.

A church that enables believers to represent Jesus in every city and town in our nation. No city too large and no town too small.

A church of exponential increase, a church of innovation. Are you alive about this?

A church large enough to give voice to the gospel in our nation and personal enough to heal every broken heart.

Watch a video about the ARISE Centre here

 

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Expansion: The Purpose

john-cameron-passion2This post is a continuation from the previous Expansion post. This post is a transcript of a second sermon John Cameron delivered on his vision to see the ARISE Church grow to the extent that it has a nationwide presence. The aim is to pursue a supposedly god-given purpose which is to “Build a church for lost people” so as to “Impact New Zealand God” . A link to the the sermon can be found here. (once again, apologies for the poor quality) 

 

Well good morning everybody, how we all doing? Everybody good? Who’s awake? Who’s alive? Anybody care about Jesus? C’mon. We are glad to be in church today and welcome to all of our ARISE locations around New Zealand and everybody that’s with us online. No matter where you are can you welcome somebody else to the service. Just give people a big clap; will be awesome. Just welcome someone to the meeting; will be brilliant. And we are gathered here together today on an amazing moment. We are on the eve of our ARISE Expansion Offering. On every seat, if you’re in a physical location, then we have one of these brochures. If you’re with us online, you’ll just have to kinda look and see mine that I’m holding up. But we have a beautiful brochure for you today. You can check it out. We’re in the middle of the motion. Got amazing photos of our ground breaking ceremony. Some awesome statistics on what we’ve been able to raise so far and some details and you can sort of check out some images of the building and it is our faith journey. A great page there. Really wanna encourage ya to take some time to read through it. Amazing photo kinda journey all the way through the ARISE Centre, from the time that we broke ground until now. We’ve got a long way to go and we’re just so excited about all the steps that we’re gonna be taking so check that brochure out.

But this is indeed, for us, an amazing time in our journey and I love this time of our year. I have a love/hate relationship with it. In fact, just in the build-up to this Sunday, I read through all of my messages that I preached in the month preceding our expansion offering last year and realised that there’s a lot of similarities. This is a time for me when I, I feel distinctly alive, really fired up about our vision. It’s also a time of year where I go,

“What on earth have I committed ourselves to”, you know. “What have we said?”

Ah, a time where I don’t sleep that much but I spend a lot of time in prayer. But we’re excited about the season because this time last year we kind of publicly stated something and in doing so I really traded in all of my chits as the leader of ARISE, you know. Over the years you kinda gain a few credits. You said you were going to do this and you did it. We said that we were going to start a campus and we achieved it. Well you know, we said that we were going to go here and we got there. And then I’m like,

“Okay, alright!”

So there’s a little bit trust right now, a few chits that have come my way. You’re all hearing that with a “c” and not a different letter, right? Traded in all my chits and I said,

“We’re gonna go all out and we’re gonna believe God to raise 7.4 million dollars so that we can fund the ARISE Centre freehold.”

Yeah. And then the moment I put it out there and, I was like, “Aargh! What have I said?”

But we have been seeing the most amazing thing take place. I was straight up that, you know, it would be miraculous if we were able see that. But what’s incredible is to get to this point in our journey and just seeing the most amazing progress photos of the ARISE Centre. And I want everybody to know that the greatest miracle probably so far is that we have yet to pay a cent of interest, yet to borrow one dollar, and we’ve been able to achieve so much already. I’d love you, no matter where you to give god some great praise. That is indeed, an amazing miracle. Yeah!

And we are halfway, nearly halfway to our goal. We’re getting so very close. In fact we’re already planning for a special celebration when we cross that halfway mark to all of the construction costs of the ARISE Centre being paid for. And, ah, you know, for myself and Gillian, the board of ARISE, all of our staff and team, we just wanna say today,

“A massive thank you to everybody who has given so generously towards the ARISE Centre, empowered this miracle, gotten us this far.”

C’mon, can we give a big clap to the many, many hundreds of people who have been able to make this thing happen. And we are so close to halfway as a result of last year’s expansion offering and at the heart of this whole campaign has been this thought: one seat, one soul, one year. Because we know from looking at how many people have found Christ in our ARISE campus’s throughout New Zealand; that for every seat we have in an auditorium we will see a soul saved every year. One seat, one soul, one year. And what’s amazing about that is it’s literally six thousand dollars to buy a seat in the ARISE Centre, and I don’t know about you but I reckon that’s a cheap eternal salvation, you know. And together we’re giving generously, together we are partnering in this amazing miracle because what an awesome thing to give to; to know that for the next decades of our church’s journey we will, we will see, based on thirteen years of evidence, we will see a soul saved in that seat every year for decades to come. Yeah, c’mon, if you believe that that’s exciting, can you give God some praise.

Um. And so we’ve decided to do something new. We’re gonna, we’re gonna put seat numbers on the seats in the ARISE Centre so that if you partner with us and you say,

“Well, I’m gonna buy a seat or seats in the ARISE Centre.”

You’ll be able to, you know, stop by there from no matter where you are. If you’re in Wellington you’ll be able to go out there and check it out and be able to see, “Here is my seat number, I paid for that seat.”

I’m praying, I’m gonna believe God I can fund rows in the ARISE Centre. I was suddenly sitting down this morning thinking,

“Maybe I could fund a section.”

I’m just gonna go after it. I wanna challenge somebody to beat me to the first section. And we’re gonna go on this journey and we’re gonna fund this thing and it is gonna be amazing and next Sunday we receive this year’s expansion offering. So what does this mean? Well firstly, first thing that everybody needs to know is that if everybody can give what they gave last year, we’re nearly there. So I know that a lot of people really stretched themselves to give last year. If you cannot do the same this year then don’t feel guilty. Please, don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel like I’m asking you to do that. I’m putting out the opportunity, the potential. I’m saying,

“If we could do it, it’d be amazing because we would then achieve the goal. So if you could come with us and you could do it then man, come with us, let’s do it!”

I also know that there are many hundreds of people in our church now that weren’t in our church last year. And if I can encourage you, could you join with us in this journey, could you do something new and together, if we can do that then all of the construction costs will almost be paid for. We will be so close if everybody can do what they did last year. The second thing is that we would love every person in our church to just take part some way, some way. You know, last year we kinda put out there and we said in our expansion offerings previously, that the maximum number of unique givers that we’ve had-and often a husband and wife make up one giver-but, the maximum number of givers we’ve had before was nine-hundred and forty four. And probably one of the greatest miracles of this whole journey has been that through last year’s expansion offering, we had seventeen-hundred and ninety unique givers. That’s nearly double. That’s incredible. We’ve gone from nine-hundred and forty-four to seventeen-hundred and ninety individuals or families that took part in last year’s expansion offering. That is amazing for me because not only is it evidenced in the amount that we’ve been able to…by the way, this church, no matter whether it’s pulling off the largest gathering of Christians, building a debt-free building, deciding that we’re gonna add, you know, hundreds of life groups to our church or pioneering new campuses. When this company of people decide that we are gonna participate in something together, we do the most crazy things for God, don’t we? We pull of the most ridiculous of miracles and I wanna just encourage every person, whether it’s…if you can only five dollars a week, that’s amazing. If you can do ten dollars a week, that’s phenomenal. No matter whether you can fund rows or seats or part of a seat, everybody is part of this thing. Let’s all join in together. Let’s partner our faith as one and let’s believe for the most amazing miracle. C’mon, who’s with me believing that we can, we can see God do something truly phenomenal. The harvest is ripe, the future is great. Jesus is building his church. There is no darkness that can overcome the light of our God. If you believe it, give the Lord some praise today. C’mon

Oh, man, I was reading the newspapers at the beginning of this week and I was just feeling really like, a little bit discouraged, I guess, about the state of the world and the state of our nation and then, ah, and then I began to read the psalms this week just afresh, and I read Psalms one through nine and with my Children, we’re doing Psalm 119 at the moment; a stanza every night. And you know, I’ve just been awakened again to the truth that our God is on the move and his light will never be overcome by darkness. The church is emerging. Do you believe that? And then, and then just yesterday, there was an amazing story about this thirty-two year old Catholic virgin sharing her story in the papers. And I was reading all the comments at the end and the overwhelming majority of people were like,

“This girl is amazing; her faith is genuine.”

Woke up this morning, read another article about a media person in New Zealand who became a Catholic, but you know, we’re gonna take it as a win. Ah, you know, became a Catholic, you know, just a few years ago and they’re sharing his testimony in the media. I thought, you know what, I guess first it’s got to start as a seed of faith in our hearts, but then, you know, it becomes, eventually…we’ve gotta believe together that God is indeed on the move in this generation, that the church is awakening, that God will not be obscured in any moment in time, in any season of history. We are gonna build a church that is a light on a hill, that is gonna testify to the greatness of God in Aotearoa in this moment in time. And if you believe it, give the Lord some praise. If you’re in your bedroom, hotel, hospital bed, in every campus up and down this country, let’s praise our god together. Amen.

I’ve got one verse of scripture for you today and then we’re gonna dive in to the rest of this message; that was just my preamble. I got a little carried away and now I gotta condense it; the rest. But in the book of Acts chapter seven and verse forty-nine is a scripture that I don’t even need to read, it’s been so part of our journey since I first read this verse in a pastors conference in August of 2002. And it says,

“’Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me’, says the Lord”.

“’Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me’, says the Lord”.

And, ah, you know, a few weeks ago I was walking into church here in Wellington. In fact, the service had finished and I was walking out and I was in the foyer after a five-o-clock service, and a guy walked past me and he had the tell-tale signs of somebody who’d just received Christ; a big fluorescent orange “Yes” booklet, a New Testament of the Bible. And so I began to talk to him and found out that his name was Andrew Crowhurst and he’d made a commitment of his life to Christ that night. And I was so, like, awakened. I thought,

“Man, this guy has had a genuine awakening, it’s not…he hasn’t just lifted his hand, it hasn’t been emotional. I can really tell something supernatural was taking place in his life”

He’d genuinely found Jesus. And I was, I was so excited for him that I sent him a Bible that week; the same Bible that I read. And I sent it out to him and I said,

“Hey, I wanted you to have this, it’s Just a gift from me.”

And I mentioned his name to a couple other people; said, “I’ve met this guy. He’s amazing.” Well this week I was in the church office and I was walking past our photo copier machine; that I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to use and I can’t print to it. But I was walking past it and there was Andrew-just telling you, I’m just totally incompetent-but I was walking past and there was Andrew and he was standing at the photocopier and I’m like, “Hey, what are you doing?” And he said, “Well, I’m here in the office. I’m helping out John Barnes with the Young Adults ministry. We went on to talk. Found out that he’s now going to two life groups. The guy is like a double or nothing kinda Christian. I love those kinds of people. You know, and he’s like, “I’m going to this life group, it’s a course life group. I’m going to this one with a circle of friends.” And you know, I was just so blessed. I went home and I felt tremendously encouraged because as we said in our “You tell Donna Series” that’s why we do what we do.

From the moment in December of 2002 when I found myself walking down a beach in Lyall Bay, and as I was walking down the beach, I was praying a prayer, “God, what kind of Church do you want us to build for you”, because I had read that scripture in a Pastors conference and just having been so convicted that I had no answer. “What kind of house will you build for me?” And walking down Lyall Bay beach that day, the Lord spoke into my heart, I believe, supernaturally, and the word I heard was, “Build me a church for lost people.” From that moment until this the primary driver of everything we do around here is to build a church for lost people. Not for the initiated but for the uninitiated, not for the found but for the lost, not for those who have got all their Christian stuff sorted out but for the people who haven’t yet got their stuff sorted out; if anybody knows what I’m talking about. We are building a church for the broken, for a hurting world. This is why we God has the church and that’s what we’re a part of. It’s core to everything that we do. It is this mandate; build a church for lost people, that saw myself and Jeff Stanway and another guy in the February or March of 2003 up at Mt Vic, sorry at Victoria University, with little flyers in our hands saying, “Young, vibrant, real” and handing them out to university students. Neither of us have ever been to university but there’s no law against standing in the street handing out flyers. So we were handing out these flyers and as a result of it we began to attract young people, young students, to our church and one of them was just MCing our service today, Ben Carroll, and many others in other campus’s. And so the next year we took an offering, the prelude to our Expansion Offering, and we funded some proper flyers – we had some genuine university students by this point-and we sent them out there and said,

“Hey guys, just share the love of Jesus; make a difference in the lives of people; extend to others the opportunity to come to Church.”

And now, as a church in universities, nearly every single university in New Zealand, we have a presence of ARISE. We’re seeing hundreds, thousands come to faith in Christ and now we might be the largest university ministry in New Zealand, even though we’re just a local church. It’s amazing to see what happens when you say, “We’re building a church for lost people.” It’s amazing isn’t it?

And then, you know, as our church began to grow; we used to have one guy, his name was Dave and Dave was in our Wellington Campus and he used to walk up to our guest speakers and say, “Hi, I’m Dave, I’m the Youth Group.” So we decided that we needed to do something about that and get a few more teenagers to come along to our church, so we received another Expansion offering and with it we funded our first ever youth pastor; took a big risk on a really dodgy character; a lot of prayer, a lot of deliverance but Levi’s doing okay, he’s making it. He’s got a long way to go.

But you know, this Friday, this Friday just been, like two nights ago, there were nearly a thousand teenagers on just a totally run-of-the-mill Friday night; attended a youth service of ARISE in five different venues. God is indeed on the move, that’s amazing. C’mon, can we give God some praise for that.

And then, of course, we found ourselves with a new-found problem. We had all these young people coming, university students coming, but they had no way of getting to church and so we started to fund through future expansion offerings buses. We started to say, “Man, we gotta get these people to God’s house. “ And so now we’re funding these buses and off these buses come so many people from the community. Now we’re also doing, you know, through your giving and our Expansion Offering, breakfast clubs. At the moment we’re feeding eight-hundred children breakfast a week. We’re teaching Bible in Schools to six-hundred children a week. Yeah, it’s amazing isn’t it. Um, you know, through our giving as a church community we’ve been able to fund hot-cross buns, Christmas mince pies, community transformation projects. We give many, many packages of food to struggling families. We assist mums, grandparent, care givers, refugees to set up their homes. Follow Kelly Teal on Instagram, it’s worth it just to see the photos of these people whose houses have been just, you know, literally facilitated, crying children in the best sense, if you know what I’m talking about. People across the country having their lives changed. These are all incredible things that have been made possible because of our Expansion Offerings. We are building a church for lost people. We are here to impact a lost and broken generation. We’re here to be part of the answer and not part of the problem.

And then, of course, we began to realise that probably the biggest way that we can reach lost people is by starting more campuses; it’s the modern form of church planting. It’s the most effective form of evangelism and campuses are much more likely to succeed than just a church plant. So we decided several years ago that this was gonna be the centre of our outreach vision. Last year we started two new campuses. This year we started our online campus. And, you know, it’s amazing. I love just getting the opportunity to be across our campuses around New Zealand, to see what God is doing. Last year I spent a lot of time in Dunedin and man, people are getting saved there every single week. ; so many added to the church family; their lives are being turned around. And it’s just like the coolest campus you’ve ever been to. Our Hamilton campus, which we started quite a while ago now just has the most amazing front door open; of people finding Christ; the most remarkable people discovering Jesus. And I just wanna say today that I’m so proud of our campus pastors and of our campus launching teams. Now we’re not just sending a campus pastor to launch campuses but we’re sending whole teams out there and it’s amazing to see what these young, mostly young people, who are willing, normally, to move cities and see the work that they are doing. It is amazing

You know, for Ray and Emma Moore, Joe and Jess Bundycook, Dan and Sahanya Green, I call these three the gen two campus pastors. The reason why their gen…it’s like an iPhone, we’ve got generations and…or, you know, models; and the gen two campus pastors are all under the age of thirty. They’re amazing; the young leaders, who are doing an incredible work for God. Through our campuses in the eight months that have already gone-and we’re sort of halfway through the ninth month of this year-we have seen seventeen hundred and twenty-one first time decisions. That excludes recommitment. So I want you to put your hands together and give a massive applause to every leader, every campus pastor, every small group leader that have been on this journey. That is a remarkable miracle. C’mon.

When I was a kid in church growing up, you were more likely to see some weird person trying to put the pastor head through a wall-which I literally did see one time. You are more likely to see that in church than you will one person give their life to Christ. Well you can’t go to an ARISE service without seeing somebody find Jesus. It is amazing. And we just wanna applaud…you know these amazing three new smaller campuses at Dunedin, Whangarei, and Kapiti. And we’ve decided that this year, even though we’re all in for the ARISE Centre, that we wanna do one seed of faith through this year’s expansion offering and that is we’re gonna fund through this year’s expansion offering, a full time youth pastor, in our three gen two campuses, in Whangerei, in Kapiti, and in Dunedin. We wanna, we wanna prepare for the amazing harvest to continue to come in, in these exceptional campuses. And we’re just so proud of you. But this is what I want you to know. Ray Moore, who pastors our Dunedin Campus, which is just a move of God down there, came in to our church because you gave to an Expansion Offering that funded high school outreach that bought in the captain of the first-fifteen at Hutt Valley High School and saw him find Christ and then eventually met his beautiful wife Emma, who together came through our internship school and now run that campus. It’s amazing. Dan Greene, who pastors our Kapiti Campus came to church on a bus from Tawa College and is now running a Campus. We’re seeing generations, generations that we’ve reached through the Expansion Offering, now propelling the expansion of our church. It’s amazing. Through university outreach, this is the list of staff members who came in to our church: David Monk, that’s pretty awesome; Simon and Emma Faisandier; Ben Kendrew, with dreadlocks; Ben Carroll, still with hair; Jess Fowler, who still looks exactly the same; Melvyn Tan; and Lana Page all committed their lives to Christ because of your giving through previous expansion offerings. Can you put your hands together, because that is amazing.

And then, of course, last year we said we’re putting all our eggs in one basket. We are gonna fund the ARISE Centre; twelve-hundred and fourteen seats; that’s six-thousand dollars a seat; means that all of the construction costs of this building will be paid for. Why? This is a building for the lost; one seat, one soul, one year. It means we’ve got a seat for Andrew Crowhurst, who I talked about at the beginning. It means we’ve got a seat for the Dad that I met at the end of our eleven-fifteen a.m. service here in Wellington last weekend, who gave his life to the Lord last Sunday; tracked him down through the same visible pack. It’s a great way to meet new friends; just look for those packs in a foyer. And I walked up to him and we started to chat and discovered that he has none children, twenty-five grandchildren, many of them have already come to Christ, but we won one Dad to the Lord last weekend and it’s already like a great campus launching team, you know, just in his immediate descendants, it’s incredible.

And we are building a home, we’re building a building for lost people. I believe this ARISE Centre is a key strategic step, a step that once we take it as a church, it is gonna open up for us far greater possibility in the days that are coming ahead of us. Right now we lease and rent buildings and offices for every ARISE Campus. Our momentum is hindered, often in our campuses, like it has in Hamilton, in Christchurch, in Wellington this year, when we’ve had to move around different buildings. And I just wanna say a massive thank you to every parent, every person that’s really come with us on this on this journey despite having to settle your kids into new rooms and everything like that. And not only that but we’ve been, we’ve been…we’re not developing our ability to build other buildings and building and owning the ARISE Centre freehold is crucial to moving our church in to the future that God has for us because the moment we build it and own it freehold, then we can move beyond it and get into doing other great works. We’re not really here all about buildings. This is basically a warehouse that we’re building dressed up to use for church. It is the most economic building we could design. But once we’ve built it and we own it we can then get busy designing other economic buildings; that we can build other places. And then every time we build one, it empowers us to do the next one. And I want you to know that this building; it’s every building. This building is every building because the moment we build this building and own it, it allows the next one to be made possible. So I wanna encourage you, come with us on this journey, stay with us on this journey, let’s believe God for this miracle to come to fruition, completion. We’re in the middle, but we’re getting closer to the other side. It is an amazing journey.

And it’s important that everybody knows we haven’t taken our eyes off the harvest over the last twelve months. No way. We have not said we’re becoming a church that’s all about buildings. We have not done that. It’s important to know that everything that we’ve done previously through our expansion offerings we have continued to do over the last twelve months-outreach work and our work in the community-fully funded. Universities outreach, high school outreach, church planting, community work, breakfast clubs, Bible in Schools, buses to youth, funding campus launches in Whangarei and Dunedin until they become breakeven campuses. We’ve resourced the wider church community. We’ve continued to work with other pastors; continued to run pastors co-ops. We’ve still hosted ARISE conference. How have we been able to do that? Because our staff at ARISE have worked so ridiculously hard to run the tightest budget that they’ve ever had to run in the middle of believing for something extra. We’re all on board. These are often the highest givers who are then also tightening the belt in their area so that they can run lean and mean so that we can build this building and get on with changing this nation for Jesus. We thank you and we thank every person who is giving as well.

Once we build this ARISE Centre and own it freehold, then six things are gonna happen. The first thing that will happen-I’m so excited today, can you tell?-is that we will be secure in the Wellington region. This is not caffeine; this is just genuine hype today. We will be secure in the Wellington region; that’s the first thing that’s gonna happen. We only know, at the moment, our Wellington Campus is gonna have church eight weeks from now. That’s the fartherest we’ve ever been ahead since two-thousand and eight. It has been amazing, but at the end of the day, if they decide in week none that that’s it, no more, there is no other building in the Wellington city that can house our church community. Once we build the ARISE centre, it’s not our desire but if we needed to, with twelve-hundred seats with five-hundred car parks, with a dedicated building, we can just run services all day and still house our church community without missing any great beats In this journey that we’re on. We need it. I mean, earlier this year we had church at the embassy theatre and the week before, we’re like, “Hey, hey, hey, you only get to come to one service. No double-ups. You double-up you get outta here. We need you to leave”, because it was so desperate just to have church…[technical glitch]…we’ll open a new campus of ARISE in the Hutt Valley. It’s gonna be amazing.

We’ve never done this before, never done this before. Never done what? We have never opened a campus of ARISE in a place where people already attend our church. You know, we had a life group in Kapiti, that’s the closest we’ve ever come. Now, there are over one thousand people, unique people, each month, that attend ARISE in Wellington who live in the Hutt Valley. Many of them drive from forty-five minutes away to be with us in Church. Well we’re opening a campus in the Hutt Valley and I believe that we’re gonna reach thousands more people for Jesus the moment we open this Campus, it’s gonna be phenomenal. On our day off last week, Gillian and I went into Butler’s Café in the Hutt mall and we got a mochaccino each and Gillian was at the counter and the girl at the counter, we didn’t know who she is but she knew us and she said,

“Once you open your building, I’m gonna come along to your church because all my friends are telling me that I need to get to get to church but I, you know, it’s too much for me to go to the city. We’re gonna reach hundred more people from the time that we open this building, people that desperately need Jesus Christ. We’re gonna win a greater harvest for God. And, you know, it’s gonna be incredible but I want you to know that it is the most amazing thing to realise, that from this Wellington campus, we have sent large amounts of money to fund campus in Christchurch, In Dunedin, in Hamilton, in Whangarei, in Kapiti, and now, from our whole church community, we are joining together to fund not just a building, but a campus launch back here in the Wellington Region and I just feel like it’s very special. I think that’s significant. The third thing that will happen is that we will develop equity faster and we will empower our future. We wanna build buildings and own them freehold so we can free up finances to do more for God. That’s the goal. Our giving is not just gonna go into rents and leases but into winning more lost people for Jesus. If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsay-we’re about to start a lot more life groups with his material-but Dave Ramsay talks about what he calls the “debt snowball”, that if you pay off one of you debts, it then becomes like that money that you were paying in interest helps you to pay off the next one of your debts, and then you pay off two and then you move faster to pay off all of your debt. And he’s got the most amazing testimonies. I think he’s doing an incredible work for God.

But you know what, this building is that snowball. We’re gonna build this building. We’re gonna own it freehold and it’s gonna help us to do the next one freehold and then the next one’s gonna help us to do the following freehold and we’re gonna move forward faster in to this vision that God has got for us and that’s why this building is every building. Because it frees up funds and allows us to reach more people for Jesus.

The fourth thing that will happen is this building will be a home for the ARISE Internship School. This building is the fulfilment of a prophetic promise; that’s what I believe and obviously that’s subjective, you know, you can decide whether it’s right, but I believe that this building is the fulfilment of a prophetic promise ‘cause in April of 2002 I was driving down the Hutt motorway in the back seat of a taxi cab and together Gillian and I felt the Holy Spirit and I began to say,

“One day we are gonna build a large building here in the Hut Valley and it’s gonna be where we are gonna train people. It’s expensive in the city, so we’ll build a large building out here and Monday to Friday, we’ll use it as a base of operations and we’ll fill it up with a big Bible College. We’ll train up leaders and from that Bible College we will send people to impact the nation of New Zealand.”

By the, we’ve already done that in Dunedin. We’ve done that in Whangarei. We’ve sent people from that internship school to Christchurch. We’ve sent them to Hamilton already. Many of the staff across all of our campuses have come from the ARISE Internship School and I promise you, we are gonna build the next generation of Christian leaders, not just for ARISE, but for the church of Aotearoa and beyond it. We are gonna be part of seeing the church in our generation and generations to come, stronger than it’s ever been, and if you believe it I need you to clap just a lot louder than that, c’mon, c’mon.

Number five. We will have a hub for resourcing all of our campuses. Let’s be clear, this will be campus number eight but it will not be our last campus. When we open the ARISE Centre, it’s just the beginning of many, many more chapters in this great journey that we are on. And the facilities that we are building will create the space that we so desperately need to prepare all the kids curriculum, all the videos, all of the song-writing, all of the stuff that we need so we can bring in teams, so that we can train people, so that we can equip those that are gonna start these campuses, and form it we will resource all of our campuses no matter where they might be in the days that are to come.

And number six. We will have a centre for our creativity, a studio for sound, a studio for audio visual. Our album…have we praised this enough? But our album we have, that we put out at the ARISE Conference, was the number one selling album in New Zealand on the Secular Chart for seven days. That’s amazing. Is that not praiseworthy? Like I’m just, I’m just waking up, reading the Bible, wanting to get to my iPhone every day so that I could see where it was on the chart and was just number one day after day after day after day I kept putting it up on Instagram. But what an amazing thing to think that we’re gonna have some space for some creativity around here. Gonna be able to do something great for God.

In conclusion, This building is one of the greatest steps, we’ve ever taken. No matter what campus you’re in, this building is every building, I promise you. We’re gonna move forward together into this incredible journey that we’re on. We’ve yet to borrow a cent in the ARISE Centre. Our giving together is empowering, what I believe, is the greatest miracle our church has ever seen. We have never witness an outpouring of resources like we are witnessing right now. This is like Moses when he declared the vision for the tabernacle. It’s like David when he started making provision for the temple. God is supplying in the most miraculous of ways and I don’t know about you but I’m committed to the church of New Zealand being strong, vibrant, a light upon a hill, a lost and broken generation being drawn towards a saviour. We’re gonna impact New Zealand for God and if you believe it, could you give God some praise right now wherever you are. Our God is great.

C’mon, why don’t you stand together with me in every campus this morning. We’re gonna pray, we’re gonna pray together. We’re gonna pray over our expansion offering. We’re gonna pray over our people and we’re gonna pray for a lost generation to find Jesus in New Zealand. Who’s with me today? Who’s with me today? C’mon I can’t hear you Dunedin, I said who’s with me today? C’mon. I believe that the future is bright for the church. I wanna thank every person for their giving and let me just again say the three things we started with.

Number one: If we can, if everybody can do what they did last year then we’re there so it’s not beyond us this miracle, we’ve proven it. Number two: If you can’t do what you did last year, please don’t feel guilty, it’s fine, you’ve been amazing. Thank you. There’s no guilt here, there’s just thanks giving. And thirdly: For those who are new, join with us, partner with us. If you’ve yet to give to this, what an amazing thing to think that here, right now, the halfway point, you could be just the fuel this mission needs, just the resource we need to get us to this miracle and we can all rejoice together for what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m praying that some people will just so prosper in this season. You can do above and beyond what you did last year by the way. Gilly and I have just witness the most amazing provision for what we thought was a crazy faith goal for us last year, which we’ve been able to achieve. But let’s pray together right now, c’mon. Father we thank you in the name of Jesus for all that you have done. We join our faith together and pray that you would indeed go before us, make a way, prosper your people, bless your church. We believe that the church is the light of the world, a city set upon a hill that cannot be hidden. We’re not gonna go down, we’re gonna go up. We will not fail, we will succeed. We’re stretching the tent. Make our tent curtain wide. We will increase. We will spread out to the left and to the right and see desolate cities inhabited. We believe revival is in your house is in your people and is in this nation, and if you believe it give God some praise together. C’mon. C’mon.

We’ll say goodbye to every other location. C’mon, lets praise our god together. We sing.

[singing]

Expansion: The Vision


john-cameron-passionIn September 2016, pastor John Cameron delivered a sermon series titled Expansion Offering. The name Expansion Offering is a reference the optimistic plans of John Cameron for the expansion of ARISE Church in the form of new church campuses being planted in cities and towns around New Zealand. The term offering is a reference to the method of funding used to achieve this expansion. Many Christians who attend church give a proportion of their income, known as tithing, to the church. An offering is a request by the church to it’s congregation to give over and above what they already tithe for some special cause or purpose. In the case of ARISE church, the cause for this particular offering was to extract from it’s congregation enough money to fund the construction of a 7.4 million dollar new church building in Petone, Wellington. To prime the congregation for this financial sacrifice, John Cameron laid the emotional groundwork in a number of sermons before the day of the actual offering. This post is a transcript from the first sermon. A link to a recording of the sermon can be found here (apologies in advance for the poor quality. John’s message starts at 7:00).

 

Okay, well good morning to everybody in every ARISE campus. Great to have you with us no matter whether you are in Whangarei this morning or all the way down to Dunedin. Everybody, everywhere, those with us online: put your hands together and welcome someone else to the service today. C’mon, we can do better than that; lift your voice. We like to get a little bit excited around here. If you have a Bible you can go to the book of Joshua chapter three and verse seventeen is our text for this morning. Ah, Andy if you could help me out with the monitors, it will be awesome.

We’re starting a new series this morning entitled Expansion. And if I can put todays talk in kinda one little McNugget for you; as a church we have left behind where we once were and we are in the middle of going somewhere new. And right now having left where we once were and going somewhere new, we’re in the middle of that journey. I want you to know that we are now closer to the future than to the past but the truth is that we are in the middle. With that in mind, let’s read Joshua three: seventeen. It says,

“The priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle…”

Someone yell, “Middle.”

[audience: “Middle”].

 Do better, “Middle.”

[audience: “Middle”].

 C’mon Whangarei, yell, “Middle!”

[Whangarei audience: “Middle”].

 Very good. “…while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground in the middle.”

As a church, for us the book of Joshua has always been a very, very important book in the Bible. It is important for us because the nation of Israel were formed when they came out of slavery in Egypt and went in to the wilderness and became now a nation of people, yet a nation without a nation, a people without a land. And after wandering around in the wilderness for forty years they reached the edge of the Jordan River. And on one side was the wilderness; on the other side was the Promised Land, the land that god had promised for them. Hanging out in the wilderness meant kinda just getting by, subsiding, living; God provided for them. But on the other side in the Promised Land was a life that was full of blessing; God’s favour. They were able to signify to the world, “Our God is big, he is alive, he is real, and he is in the middle of blessing his people.” Crossing over the Jordan River was the most important step that Israel had ever taken because it meant engaging the process. When they crossed the Jordan River, they left behind the comfort and familiarity of everything they had ever known. They stepped in to a place that was new and unfamiliar, foreboding, risky; but it presented to them opportunity, the ability for God to prove they could do something great.

When they stepped across that Jordan it meant leaving the old for the new. It meant leaving the past for the future. It meant leaving the known for the unknown; safety for the risky; the possible for possibility. It meant stepping out of their comfort zone. And what’s amazing about our passage-and we’re kinda theming this talk about being in the middle-was when they crossed the Jordan. In our text this morning we read that it was the priests who led the way and who stood in the middle of the Jordan. I love this passage because these priests took the Ark of the Covenant, they put it on their shoulders and they walked down in to the Jordan River. And I want you to know this is a powerful, spiritual message. Every step that they took, the waters receded. We should not wait for open passage for us to step into what God’s got. We obey the Lord and he makes the waters recede as we take steps in obedience. And they took steps, every step they took the waters receded. And finally we find this picture of the priests, in our passage, in the middle of the Jordan and the waters of the Jordan are walled up on either side and the nation of Israel is crossing from one side to the other. The priests stood in the middle with the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders; they stood in faith; they stood in prayer; they stood carrying the miracle; they stood ready for what God was going to do. They were in the middle while the past was on one side and the future on the other. And in the middle of this amazing crossing we find the priests. What’s powerful for you and me when we consider our journey through life, when we consider our crossing over from death to life, from sin to righteousness, is that in the New Testament we also find Jesus in the middle.

Come over with me to Romans chapter eight where the Bible says in verse thirty-one, one of my favourite scriptures in all of the Bible.

“What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Now that’s awesome. Let’s now read in verse thirty-four ‘cause it gets even better.

“Christ Jesus who died…”

More than that, whack somebody and say, “More than that.”

“More than that.”

“…who is raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us”

That’s one of my most mind-blowing texts in all of the Bible; that Jesus is not idle in heaven. He has gone to heaven but he is at work, he is doing something. What is he doing? I’m glad you asked. He is interceding for you and me. Our saviour is in heaven standing in the gap. This is what an intercessor does. They stand in the gap between present reality and future potential. An intercessor stands in the middle; says,

“Your life doesn’t have to be like it has been. It can be like God wants it to be. You’re not bound by your past.”

Jesus is saying, “No, Father. Look at who I created them to be.”

He is holding up a picture before the Father of future you and saying, “This one day is gonna be withheld for the church.” Jesus is interceding for the church. He’s saying, “Man, the church is not gonna be bound, it’s not gonna be limited. My people won’t live in fear. The church won’t be the periphery, it will be the centre. We are not the tail, we are the head.” Jesus is interceding for the church. That’s what an intercessor does. An intercessor stands as the priests in the Jordan crossing, as Jesus in the New Testament, in the middle declaring that this crossing will take place.

What’s crazy about ARISE right now is that there is a movement of prayer happening across our church. I mean it’s happening everywhere. The teenagers of our church have spontaneously, since ARISE Conference, begun praying one hour in twenty-four cycles, like throughout the week somebody’s always praying for the schools of our nation. That’s amazing. And they believe in God that they can see their friends and their high-schools come to know Jesus.

We’ve got intercessory prayer meetings and prayer life groups just beginning to just spring up, their springing up. People are joining our prayer texts and, you know, getting the intercessory text. Our prayer meetings are growing on a Sunday morning. I can tell you I’m feeling it. Like I’m waking up…on Wednesday morning I woke up at three thirty in the morning and just spent about an hour and a half just praying over our church. But I’m awake. I’m not sure it’s God’s blessing or something else but I’m awake every day before five a.m. at the moment just alive to prayer. Why? Why is that movement of prayer happening? I can tell you why. Why? Is because we are in the middle at the moment as a church and when you’re in the middle, God awakens you to prayer.

Over the last few years of our ARISE journey we’ve been standing in the middle, we have been, right? At the beginning of last year we declared for our church our vision of who we want to become as a church. We declared that we’re going somewhere new, that we’re changing the measurement with which we decide whether we’re doing well or not. And this is what we declared:

We’re gonna build a church with campuses everywhere, with small groups covering an entire nation.

We’re gonna build a church that is mobilizing believers, multiplying disciples, raising a new generation of leaders, rapidly expanding, increasing in influence, and reaching a nation for God.

A church that see’s life to every spirit, love to every heart.

A church that empowers believers to reach their world for Christ.

A church that enables believers to represent Jesus in every city and town in our nation. No city too large and no town too small.

A church of exponential increase, a church of innovation. Are you alive about this?

A church large enough to give voice to the gospel in our nation and personal enough to heal every broken heart.

That’s the kind of church that I want to be part of. Does anybody hearing this wanna be part of that kind of church? And honestly right now we are in the middle, a middle of moving towards that church. In this amazing picture in Joshua we’ve got the Ark of the Covenant, we’ve got the priests and their standing in the middle of the Jordan until the nation has crossed over. And that’s why I believe there is this such strong stirring to prayer in our church because we are in the middle of crossing over. I feel the ark on my shoulders. Anybody else out there? Like there’s just this stirring to pray because we’re standing in the middle while we as a church cross over. And make no mistake, we’ve made amazing progress so far.

When we declared that vision at the beginning of last year we had four campuses, we now have seven. You know, and last year we pioneered two new campuses in one year, Whangarei and Dunedin. Whangarei now has an average weekend attendance of 275 people. C’mon, that’s amazing. We’ve seen 350 decisions for Christ in Whangarei, and 140 of them for the first time. We have 22 life groups in Whangarei. In Dunedin we see now an average attendance of 370 people this month of August. 250 People are now in life groups. You know, we’ve made amazing progress guys. If it’s felt like we’ve been doing more it’s because we have.

The online campus: We launched our online campus only a few months ago. Already, we’ve seen 180 people make decisions for Christ through our online campus. 300 people a week interact with our online campus. On any given Sunday, right now there’s probably, I think, about 140 screens viewing this service through our online campus and many of those represent families and communities gathered together like the Du Pries, who are probably watching this; live on the outer outskirts of the Bank’s Peninsula; participate in our online campus every week. They’re trying to invite their family, their neighbours to attend. They attended ARISE Campus at a conference as a family, the Du Pries, and Tim was serving at the conference. They’re part of our church family through our online campus. We’re touching three hundred people a week though that.

We’ve got life groups now, as a church, in Palmerston North and in Auckland. So far this year, as a church, as a church, we’ve seen 2236 recorded decisions since January 2016. I want you to give the biggest clap you’ve given all service long. That is why we do what we do. We’re here to win lost people to Jesus. Heaven and Hell are real, right? And we are in the middle right now, not only do we have seven campuses, which is awesome, we’re building our eighth right now. C’mon, that’s exciting. The ARISE Centre is also going to be our eighth campus in the Hutt Valley. We will have a new campus of ARISE; still be having services where I’m speaking from this morning in Wellington central at the Michael Fowler Centre. And for the first time in ARISE history, when we open the Hutt Campus, we will be opening a campus in a location, in a geographical area where we already have over a thousand members from our church. So I believe that when we open the ARISE Centre and our Hutt Campus is launched, that we are gonna see the most amazing multiplication of our effectiveness in the Wellington region for Jesus. C’mon you can celebrate that in Dunedin and Christchurch and Hamilton right now. We’re here to make a difference for all of New Zealand.

For those who are in the Wellington region who are listening to this today, on the final Sunday of September we’re gonna kind of go offline from our other locations and we’re going to talk about our vision for the Wellington region as we pioneer the ARISE campus. So the last Sunday of September make sure that you’re in church.

Moving in to this new stage of our vision: What we’ve been doing since January or February last year, when we declared who we’re going to become, has taken more effort than I ever thought possible. It has been bigger than I ever imagined. It’s taken a lot of energy, a lot of learning. It’s challenged our faith. It has kept us relying on God.

For me as the pastor, like I’ve been in much deliberation, lots of prayer, I’ve had to seek out new mentors; we’ve had to go to new levels of faith. We’ve had to think different as a church if we’re going to go where God wants us to go. Well the truth is now, now, because of all of that effort and energy, we find ourselves as a church in the most exciting place we have literally ever been. Like with Israel when the priests stepped into the middle in to the Jordan and stood in it, we have been standing in the middle as a church but now we are really coming out the other side. We are walking through in to something new. We’re not the new ARISE yet, but we are closer now to the future than to the past. We are a long way along this journey and the gap is closing between what we see for our future and what we see in the here and now. That is absolutely the truth. The gap is closing between what we see for the future and what we see now. The horizon is becoming the fore front. We are moving to the new. We are in the middle of a motion as a church. We are walking through the Jordan and the gap between the dream and the reality is getting smaller all of the time. It’s so exciting right now. Whack somebody next to you and just say, “It’s so exciting right now.” It’s so exciting.

Today, today is no small day. Today we have an open day across all of our ARISE locations where people in our church are able, after every service, to go and view a whole bunch of different ways that you can join the team around here at ARISE and help us to expand our capacity to touch more people with the love of our great god because our church grows larger through Sundays as lost people find Jesus. It’s not about bottoms on seats; it’s about effectively reaching more for Christ. We call that encounter. Our church grows more whole through life groups. We help each other grow and find wholeness as we do life in community, in life groups. And we’ve got new life groups growing up all the time. We started in Wellington. This week: three new life groups targeted around freedom in Christ. I think we started one in Christchurch. They’re growing up all the time. You will only become more whole, you will only grow in your Christian faith when you have others in your world. If you are a lone Christian, a Sunday only Christian you are not growing to the fullness of what God has for you. And the third thing that happens: we grow larger through Sundays, more whole through life groups, and more able through people who are part of the team.

The thing about Christianity is that you get it for free and then God asks you to spend your life giving it to others. And the moment you get Jesus that gift is free, and then he says, “Now would you use what I have blessed you with to bless others. Would you help a redemptive community to touch many more people?” And we’re…I’m inviting many people this morning to be part today, to be part of our open day and to be able to see what we do as a church community so that you can join the team and help us with this mission.

But, you know, as exciting as all of these steps are, as we come out of the Jordan in to the new ARISE, the ARISE centre, the ARISE centre that were building and the funding of that ARISE centre, I believe, is our Jericho. For Israel, Jericho was the first large obstacle they had to conquer when they came out of the Jordan. They came out of the Jordan and then in front of them is a massive, they’re like, “We are in the land of opportunity.” And I think as a church we are starting to see that there is a land of opportunity.

The church can be the answer in the twenty-first century in New Zealand. People who love God can love others and together we can bring the love of God to thousands and millions of people in the nation of New Zealand. Do you believe that it’s possible, to build God’s house in the twenty-first century? C’mon. I expect you to get as loud in this building as they are in Whangarei. C’mon somebody. We believe we can build the church, right? C’mon Hamilton, let me hear ya.

And as we do this the funding of the ARISE centre, the building of the ARISE centre is our first big challenge. Why? I wanna tell you why. I’m so happy with the ARISE centre. You, know, we’ve spent weeks and months of prayer and planning to make sure that the building that we’ve built is the right building. Oh man. I can’t wait for the open day that we’re gonna have in two Saturdays time, but it’s exciting…or next Saturday I think, ah next Saturday. It’s gonna be so exciting for just a few people to get to walk around it. I’ve been taking all of our campus pastors through it this week. But man, the ARISE centre is our Jericho for one huge reason. It is the first big challenge that unlocks everything else. For Israel, once they crossed they Jordan they saw that big city and the moment they took down Jericho then everybody else was easy to overcome. For us, we have a building. It’s our first building that we’ve built. And when we’ve built this building not only will the ARISE Centre help us but as it becomes a freehold building, as we own it, and own it without any debt, then we shift our entire position as a church away from rents and leases-and that’s kinda like the wilderness where you’re just getting by and living hand to mouth. We wanna move towards the point where we’re empowering our ability to move forward in to future campus buildings and increased opportunities. We have intentionally designed a building that is not cost expensive, that is not going to create a burden of debt. Now we’re rallying our community to say, “Man, ARISE, let’s not just build it. Let’s pay for it because if we own it freehold then we are gonna be able to not just build it and then nurse a mortgage. But then we can turn lease payments and hireages into savings for opportunities that will open up for us in every ARISE campus that doesn’t yet have a building and every place that we are yet to go. Every dollar, every dollar that goes in to the ARISE Centre speeds up the future building of everything we’re gonna do in the days that are to come. We have worked so hard, this building is in my opinion, we have done a really good job and I want you to know that it takes a lot for a very, very self-critical person like me to say that. But we have worked very hard to deliver a performance building, you know, where you can have literally…it’s like a theatre right; for a per square meter rate of only three thousand dollars. This is a very cost effective building; a building that will expand our ability to function enormously in the Wellington region, enormously in the Wellington region.

We had Vision Night on Wednesday night. People were there until midnight; were packing down the venue. It will expand our ability enormously in the Wellington region. But most importantly, this is a building that we can, with faith and prayer, own freehold either when it is open; that’s my faith goal, it’s a crazy one by the way so don’t judge me if it doesn’t come off. But it will either be: freehold when we open it; optimal position. But listen. Worst case scenario: it will take us two to three years. That’s like, that’s like nobody gives. You all decide the Expansion Offering giving is not for you anymore. We’ll still get there in two or three years time. And man I’m excited. We’re not talking about decades of debt. We’re not going to mortgage our future with an ostentatious building now. We want this to be our first building but it is not going to be our last building. We’re gonna move this church forward. We’re gonna reach millions of people. We’re gonna build campuses up and down New Zealand and we are gonna touch Aotearoa for God. Who is with me in that bold pursuit? C’mon, we’re gonna build this one. Then everything we were spending, we’re gonna save it. Plus future savings are gonna join it. And then the nest egg’s gonna grow faster. Then we’re gonna build the next one. Then we’re gonna take all of that and funnel it for the future one. It is gonna empower us to move faster forward in to what God’s got for us.

You know that the shift we’ve taken as a church towards the ARISE Centre now means that out of every dollar that comes in to ARISE, we are living off sixty-four per cent of our income; runs the church, sixty-four per cent of what’s given runs the church. Investing in this building, which; stay with me, that’s investing in to our future; that’s capital accumulation; that’s not interest; that’s capital accumulation: twenty-eight per cent of our income. And we give externally, because we want to be a blessing as a church, eight per cent of what you give. So know that. And it’s gonna grow to ten. So everything you give us, we’re gonna give ten per cent away. Once the ARISE Centre is completed we are then gonna be in position where we can move more steadily in to our future. Funding the ARISE Centre is taking down Jericho. Why? Because every dollar given to the ARISE Centre is a dollar given to every building. This building is the next building. It is the critical step that moves us over. Every dollar is to every building. This building is every building, the next building. It is empowering us to do everything else that we are going to do. And right now we are in the middle of that movement.

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Hey, check out the slides so you can see where we are at as a church so far. Ah, they’re gonna chuck it up on the screen. As you can see, the number of seats that have already been given; Lord, bless our media team, let them have it, let them have it. In Jesus name, let them have it. Please O Lord. Thank you, thank you. Fantastic. We made it. You can see right now that if you combine the yellow, which is seats that are already paid for, with the grey section, which are seats that people have already said, “We will give those seats.”, we are getting close to halfway. With the giving from this year’s expansion offering, that’s literally what you see is last years. If we combine it with the same giving this year then you can see there’s a very small slither left over at the end. Is it possible? Yes it is. Is it within our reach? Yes it is. Can we build this building and own it freehold, either next year or the year after? We absolutely can. And you know what? I believe that God wants us to go after this bold pursuit because here’s the thing. Not only does it represent our future, but for every seat, one seat is one soul, one year. Every seat represents somebody that’s gonna find Jesus every year. How do you know that? Because already two-thousand two-hundred and something people have found Jesus and we’re just entering September. I believe that we’re gonna see something amazing with this building and something amazing as a church beyond this building. We build the ARISE Centre, we keep building. Not grandiose buildings but low budget, cost effective, excellent but not ostentatious, debt free buildings. We keep moving forward with a growing commitment to reach every person who needs the love of God in our country.

Growing companies go out to market and they say, “We’re looking for investment partners. Our company has a proven model. We believe that…” This is what they say. They say, “Our Company has a proven model. We’re already returning profits…” That’s their focus. “…and if you partner with us then we’re gonna grow this company faster and you will then get a dividend. Well here’s the thing. ARISE is touching people, we’re touching people. We are increasing in our ability to reach New Zealand. We’re not after bums on seats; we’re after souls in eternity. Are you with me? It’s not about the size of our church; it’s about the size of heaven. That is what our primary driver is all about. That is why we get up in the morning. That’s what motivates us to do what we do.

And the thing is, you know, we are looking for investment partners. We can’t give you a return on investment. There is certainly never gonna be a dividends cheque that’s gonna come from church. But God is a really good returner to all those who put their heart to follow him and be a blessing to his work. Has anybody experienced that? Jillian and I were totalling up what we’ve already given over the last two years to this building and, to be honest, I was comparing it to the size of my mortgage. But I was realizing, I was realizing that the two were quite similar but I was also realizing that I would never have been able to give that if I hadn’t had made the decision to give that because God has supernaturally provided. Seriously, I mean, you can doubt that all you want, but I believe God has supernaturally provided for a supernatural contribution that we’ve been able to make. And you know what, as much as we’ll never give you a dividend cheque but God will look after those who build his house. For every dollar you give that’s one seat, one soul, one year. And we believe that the church is the hope of the world, right. We believe that our cars don’t go to heaven but people do, right.  

So we’re all about building the church. And this is what brings this whole thing to a rest, everything home to rest. Everything we do guys is to reach people. Everything we do is to touch a lost world for Jesus. Every seat in the ARISE Centre is about a soul that finds its way in to heaven. We are all about making way for the next generation of New Zealanders to have heaven as their home. We’re about making it possible for future generations. We’ve built a wonderful church in the last twelve, thirteen years, however long. But man, in the next thirteen years of my life, I wanna be part of this team that together builds a church with a young generation that’s coming up, are gonna be so ridiculously resourced with buildings and equipment and facilities, that they can get out there and reach thousands of people without having to raise a whole lot or work till midnight. We can win a lost generation for New Zealand. If you believe that give me a little bit of love right now. Yeah, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon. The band can join me in every campus.

The other day I was in our Wellington five-o-clock service and a girl who’s in the front row of this morning’s service-her name is Maddie Foster; She’s twenty years old-received an offering. I watched this girl take this offering and I was like, “My gosh.” At twenty years old I would’ve been dry mouth, stuttering, fearful. But we’ve built a church with an incubator, like this hot-house environment optimal for growth. Well how about we now build the kind of church where this young Maddie Foster has got an ability to minister to teenagers. How about Juanita Randall in Whangarei, who I think is one of the most bold and courageous young women I have ever met; stepped out in faith, moved away from family, went up there to Whangarei and is now touching about seventy teenagers a week with the team in Whangarei. Let’s build a place where her gift is able to flourish. Let’s build the kind of church, where we’re resourced and Tom Foster, who does an amazing job in Kapiti running our youth, volunteers full time to make that thing happen. How about we build the kind of church that’s gonna release him to be able to put his gifts and talents to work; Will and Robbie in Hamilton, who are seeing an explosion of growth. Let’s build the kind of church where they’ve got the resources they need to move forward; or Harry here in Wellington; or Analise, one of the greatest leaders of our church in Dunedin; or Andy Coyle in Christchurch. We can create an environment in these next few years where these amazing young leaders are not limited by resources or budgets, but the answer is a yes. If you wanna do it, go for it. We’re not held back but you’re empowered. I want the hot-house to get a whole lot hotter. Who’s with me? I wanna touch a nation for Jesus. Does anybody wanna be part of that? How about we decide we’re crossing the Jordan, we’re taking down Jericho. We’re gonna believe for New Zealand to discover the love of our great God. And if you’re with me no matter where you are, stand to your feet and let’s give God one great praise in every location. Praise him in your bedroom or you lounge room right now. C’mon. Amen

Oh, wow, man, we’re breaking forth into song right here. C’mon, we’re gonna pray together and then we’re gonna release every location and here in Wellington we are absolutely gonna sing while Kurt just burst forth in to song singing. But I don’t know about you but I reckon the future’s looking bright, aye. Anybody feel like wearing sunglasses to church ‘cause the future is looking real bright. Who’s with me? Amen. C’mon, let’s pray together. Father, we thank you in the name of Jesus for every…you don’t count us by number, you count us by name. We’re throwing out a few numbers, but Lord, they’re all names; they all matter to you. And we get out of bed with a motivation in mind that we can touch lost people; help them to find the love and healing of our great God. And God, we pray over this next Jericho, this ARISE Centre. We’re praying for supernatural provision. We’re praying for blessing over your church, blessing over your people, blessing over the building process. We’re praying for supernatural favour and open doors in every city that we’re currently in; from Whangarei to Hamilton to Kapiti, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin; every city that we’re yet to go to. Give us supernatural blessing and favour. Pour out favour over your church in the mighty name of Jesus. And somebody in every location shout aloud amen, amen, amen.

We’ll see you guys. C’mon lets sing.

[Singing]

 

Evangelizing in Schools: Getting ‘Em While They’re Young

 

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ARISE Church is deeply committed to expanding itself, both in the number of nationwide campuses as well as number of congregants, in their continuation of an ambitious project of saving millions of lost Kiwi souls.Lead pastor of ARISE Church, John Cameron, outlined in a sermon his vision for how they will accomplish this goal.

“We’re believing in these days that we’re gonna build a church of influence not just for a city but for a nation. We’re believing that through changes in technology and strategy that we can now network together a company of believers from the top of New Zealand to the bottom of the South and see this company of believers empowered. Not an up/down model of church but a groundswell model of church that propels life groups to be in every location, everywhere in New Zealand, not bound by geography, not bound by buildings, not limited by any means, but able just to touch people wherever they are. We wanna build the church that puts resources in the hands of believers, that empowers the harvest, that says we can reach that school, we can reach that uni, we can reach that workplace, we can reach that town for Jesus Christ. That’s the kind of church that we’re committed to building. We’re committed to building a church that in every city where there is an ARISE campus, that ARISE campus is large and prominent, and cannot be hidden. We wanna build a church that is so portable that it’s accessible to the smallest of towns in the most remote of locations. It has access to prison’s, retirement homes. It can access people no matter where they are, and we can build a church that through God’s people in a spirit of unity might actually have a shot at changing a nation for Jesus Christ“.

John Cameron has also fervently stated that, 

“ARISE is wholly driven by a belief that we can see New Zealand won for Christ. Our whole passion, our whole passion is to see the church centre stage in New Zealand, to see it again something that people know about, to see the truth of Jesus again proclaimed in a new generation, to see a new generation of New Zealanders living with God’s promise alive in their heart”.

The phrase “a new generation” entails young kiwis, and it follows that if one was to attempt to accomplish this lofty task, one would have to profoundly influence the smartphone clutching kiwi youth on an unprecedented mass scale. A realization of the current social climate and the extreme improbability of a renaissance of religious fervor is apparently absent. Undeterred by certain failure to convert the population of New Zealand to a Creationist, Second Coming awaiting flavour of Christianity, ARISE buries any doubt about the plausibility of their task and plows on with their agenda of evangelism which they have set before themselves. The method that ARISE employs for evangelizing to young people is to target schools, both primary and secondary, as well as universities. As John Cameron stated in an interview with fellow pastor Phil Pringle,

“Outreach to universities is probably the number one trait of our church, and then outreaching to high schools is something that we obviously are very involved with as well”.

In 2012, ARISE started to become engaged with providers of public primary school Christian values classes (also called Bible in Schools or Religious Instruction).

“People might be here this morning, perhaps in Kapiti, maybe here in Wellington, and you’re literally saying to yourself, “I don’t know how I can do that. I mean I would love to be a fisherman on the shores but literally don’t know a single non-Christian”. I mean, maybe you are here like that, or maybe you’re feeling like there’s something more that I need to do. Well you know what, it’s possible through every sporting fixture, every time you go to the gym, every interaction you have. But you know what, there’s also things like Bible in Schools. You know as a church this is for us, I feel, a new season that we’re entering in to, is to make that, you know, Bible in Schools teachers are getting older, while our church is getting younger, and I feel like God’s saying, “Hey church, how about you don’t just look at that, how about you do something about that”. So we’ve been talking to the people who run Bible in Schools across the country, and saying what if we just decided to encourage our congregation to engage in Bible in Schools because, you know, we don’t want the next generation of New Zealanders coming up without knowing that Jesus died for them, that the Bible is the word of God. It’s a huge opportunity. Um, Ivan will be out in the foyer, there’s a big stand out there, isn’t it? You can sign up today if you’d like to. Kapiti, I’m sure you can sign up as well. It’s half an hour a week. You’re just teaching Christian values, the word of God, literally the Gospel, to students. It’s a massive opportunity. And I for one don’t want to see another Dominion Post front cover with a kid in a Catholic School uniform in a Zen meditation posture. We’re going to do something to see a new generation of New Zealanders know that Jesus loves them. C’mon somebody”.

They organized some church volunteers to devote time and effort to taking these classes in a number of schools which conduct these classes. Pastor John estimates that they currently reach six-hundred children per week

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“We’re teaching Bible in Schools to six hundred children a week”

In addition to Bible in Schools, ARISE tours primary schools with a fun, engaging Christmas production called the Champions Christmas Roadshow. The goal of the show is to deliver a fun Christian spin on why we celebrate Christmas. Here is what production members had to say about the roadshow.

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The evangelizing nature of the Champions Christmas Roadshow was highlighted when pastor Gillian Cameron declared it’s success in bringing the Gospel to a large number of children

Church! Our church has been busy doing so many great things. We’re giving God praise that we’ve been in schools sharing the Gospel message to over four thousand children in Wellington alone…the Gospel has been going out.

To evangelize to high school students, ARISE adopts a more stealthy approach. In August 2016, ARISE teamed up with US motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs and went on a tour around high schools in Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch. The content of the talks which Reggie gave aimed to provide inspiration and hope in the face of adverse circumstances, and addressed topics such as respect for self and others, anti-bullying and others. However, talk attendees were plied with flyers advertising a youth rally later in the week. The prospect of free stuff provided additional enticements for any indecisive youngsters.

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The school talks and giveaways were a ruse so that there would be a larger audience of captive minds present at the rally, which was really an evangelism event primarily designed to get kids to “give their lives to Jesus”. From the perspective of ARISE, positive mindset changes youths may have gained earlier were lost in the metric of how many of them at the rally came forward and gave their lives to Christ. As pastor Ben Caroll said when addressing the ARISE church congregation on the Sunday after the Wellington rally,

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“Hey, do you want to hear some great things that have been happening in the life of the church. On Friday night we had a youth rally with Reggie Dabbs right here in Wellington Central at the Opera House and there were 735 young people that came along, but the amazing thing is that on Friday night 123 people made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. Isn’t that amazing. This week we’ve been in twenty three schools, and a massive shout out to all of our youth team who have done an incredible job in the schools reaching out to high school students, it’s been brilliant”.

To underscore ARISE Church’s commitment to church-building, evangelism, and their desire to influence a multitude of young people, the following are quotes of lead pastor John Cameron taken from some of his sermons. 

“We’re gonna be committed more than ever to reaching teenagers in high school, university campuses, people in work places. Yeah, we’re gonna have a sweaty, smelly, young, loud church and that’s the one you’re gonna be part of, but we’re gonna keep our edge and win lost people for Jesus Christ”.

“See, what makes church exciting is mission. See, Elevate, Elevate exists so that we can win high schools for Jesus Christ. Some Elevaters shout, “Yeah boy!” HUGE! Exists so that we can win university campuses for Jesus, someone shout, “Yeah boy!” But listen, it’s about every age and stage. You know God’s given to our church huge open doorways to teach Bible in Schools. It’s literally in our New Zealand law that churches and people of religion have to be allowed in to schools for thirty minutes every week to talk about religious things. Well I reckon that what they need to see is not just a grandma whose sixty five-although God bless her, I’m not speaking against her- but they need to see someone in their thirties, someone in their twenties, someone in their early forties, whose part of a vibrant and alive church who actually loves Jesus, got some energy, saying to a whole new generation of New Zealanders, “My Jesus is alive, he loves people”. C’mon, somebody needs to be salt and light. We’re on a mission! C’mon. Children’s about mission. Young Inc. C’mon if you’re over twenty five, you’re in Young Inc, you’ve got a salary, somebody shout amen. Enjoy it, enjoy it, and save. But anyway, you’ll never have more money than you do right now, I’m telling you. But, you know, if you’re part of Young Inc., it’s not just a kinda we’re gonna sit round drink cappuccinos, it’s not about that. It’s about the fact that this city has more young worker, people between the ages of twenty-five and thirty, eighteen to thirty, more people in that age bracket than any other city in our nation by an over ten per-cent. This is the young worker capital of New Zealand. And so we have Young Inc. because it exists to win your workplace to Jesus Christ. C’mon, because people move to Wellington, are looking for hope, looking for life, looking for friends, and we exist to win a workplace. Young family life groups. It’s about the fact that you go from someone whose got a whole day to hang out, to basically ninety minute sound bites in between feeds, nappy changes and sleeps. C’mon, if you’ve got young kids you know what I’m talking about. And it can be a lonely stage. So what better than a young family groups filled with people who are great parents, or trying to be, you know, and are also just loving and kind and know Jesus. C’mon we got adult life groups so that we can win communities to Jesus. Young family life groups so we can win young families to Jesus. Young Inc. life groups so that we can win our workplace to Jesus. Young adults ministries so that we can win university campuses, we can win high schools, we can win our world, we’re on a mission from God”.kid-being-prayed-over

“Our hope is that New Zealand will be won, that our families will be impacted, that we will win back a lost generation to Jesus, that teenagers will sweep in to the church, that the church will not become an old accompany of believers, but like our church, the church of New Zealand will be populated with a new generation. C’mon, give the Lord some praise in every campus. That the church will rise as a people of answers to the challenges of Aotearoa, that we will, we will see God’s plan advance. That’s our hope”.

“I believe that this is a season where God’s saying over many people in our Church, “Get you provisions ready.” That he wants you to have more influence in your high school teenagers than you’ve ever had before”.

“…but then I began to realise that there was a greater purpose for my life, began to take these thoughts and channel them towards God, spend time in prayer, spend time memorizing his word. Something came alive in my life and man, then I began to realise that I was on this planet for more than curtains and carpet. I was on this planet to do something for Jesus. Man, I’d pray, and I’d see stadiums filled with people, I saw high schools being won to Jesus, saw shopping malls, saw revival, saw New Zealand covered in fire, knew that God was gonna do something great with my life”.

“You start thinking, “Man, man, if Esther, if Esther can rise to be a queen of her generation then so can I impact this nation for God”. You start saying, “Hang on a minute. I’m not a worthless nobody. I’m not left out. You can throw what you want at me but God put me here for a reason. And you know what? I’m not a nobody, I can change the nation, I can impact a school, I can affect a generation”.13731461_983329691764510_7986356824866170921_n

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“I believe that we can see God do something great in every university, every high school, every workplace, every family, every suburb, every town. I believe that God is on the move in Wellington in New Zealand and if you believe it, give him a loud praise in this room”.

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“I mean, man, we’re believing that New Zealand teenagers are going to connect with God. We’re believing that Whangarei is going to see its teenagers not just partying on a Friday night but worshiping Jesus on a Friday night, on a Sunday that they are going to be in Church. We’re believing for hope and promise for young…Whangarei young people”.

In the vision that ARISE church has for the future, young people play a very central and prominent role. ARISE Church deliberately targets young Kiwis and exploits their innocence and credulity.They deliberately prey upon young people’s innate desire for community and fellowship as well as their internal questioning about purpose and existence. The end goal is to foist upon their impressionable minds a sinister biblical message of sin and hell and redemption under the guise of truth and to inculcate in them ultra-spiritualist behaviour. This is tantamount to intellectual and psychological abuse. Their Sunday church services employ emotional manipulation via both the worship music and the sermons and these can have a powerful effect on young unguarded minds which haven’t cultivated the ability to question and be skeptical. ARISE church is a dangerous threat because they offer false hope to vulnerable persons as well as presenting a false picture of the world scientifically. If you are engaged by ARISE for whatever reason, proceed with caution and do your research first.

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