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
“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.
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.
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,
“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”.
“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”.
“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”.
“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.