In charismatic circles, the term revivalist often brings vivid memories of past and present evangelists such as Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn. But Banning Liebscher, founder of the Jesus Culture movement, hopes to bring that concept to today’s generation of teens and young adults.
“For us, a revivalist would be someone whose life is completely His,” Liebscher tells Charisma. “Our message is whole-hearted consecration unto the Lord. It’s not that we’re just Christians, but we’ve really given ourselves to see revival in the earth. We believe that God is looking for entire cities to be saved, and He’s looking for nations to turn to Him.”
Based out of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., Jesus Culture has been steadily growing this influential ministry since hosting its first conference in 1999. Originally inspired by the Toronto and Brownsville revivals, Jesus Culture preaches the importance of intimacy with God, walking in the Spirit and manifestations of the supernatural.
“We preach a gospel of power,” Liebscher says. “If you come to our events, we’re going to pray for the sick. It’s a little bit different because it’s not necessarily coming from the person on the platform. If I’m preaching, we’ll pray for the sick, but we’re having the people pray for one another.
“There are crazy things happening, but it’s not from me lining them up. It’s just from me telling the revivalists to pray for people.”
At Jesus Culture events, people have reported healing from such afflictions as stage-four cancer, scoliosis and asthma. One astonishing demonstration took place earlier this year in Cleveland, where a 3-year-old boy drowned in the conference’s hotel swimming pool.
“There was quite a commotion in the lobby when a 22-year-old conference attendee walked by and said, ‘Not while I’m around,’” Liebscher recalls. “She laid hands on the boy and commanded life to come into him. He spit out water and started breathing. We’re seeing that level of anointing, and we believe it will continue to be released upon the masses.”
Jesus Culture leads six to eight conferences a year in the U.S. and makes annual trips to Australia and the United Kingdom. Liebscher says they are witnessing radical changes in young people, who are being released to reach the world around them. In fact, conference attendees are encouraged to go out into the streets on the spot to lay hands on the sick, prophesy and “love on people.”
Much of Jesus Culture’s impact has been fueled by its powerful worship ministry. Kim Walker-Smith, Melissa How and Chris Quilala head up a pop-rock styled band that has outsold mainstream stalwarts such as Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum and Ke$ha on iTunes. Its live cover performance of “How He Loves” has been viewed nearly 3 million times on YouTube.
Often compared to Hillsong United or the Passion movement, Jesus Culture recently released seven of its independent records nationally and has a brand-new CD and DVD project slated for November distribution. And next August, the group will enter uncharted territory with a large-scale event at Chicago’s Allstate Arena.
“Worship is a big part of what we do, but it’s music and message,” Liebscher emphasizes. “We fight for that. … It’s always going to be music and message. Ministry will take place. I’ll preach. We’ll lay hands on people. We’ll bring the message of whole-hearted consecration to the Lord.”