Hello All!

This is something that has really been on my heart lately. Being young, its hard to tell whats right and wrong in worship. I absolutely love Jesus Culture, and Kim Walker-Smith is a huge role model for me (I even sing a lot like her), but I've been told that they are a cult (or apart of one). I'm really not sure if its true or not... I feel like they are so genuine with their worship. I was just wondering if someone could help me figure this out? Another thing is speaking in tongues. Growing up Baptist, i feel like its been shoved down my throat that it doesn't really exist. Kim Walker-Smith sings in tongues and its so beautiful. I'm really not sure what to think about all of this...

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Jesus Culture as cultists??  Didn't everyone know that???  Sorry--that's a new one to me and it doesn't seem to hold water.  Is the cult comment related to the singing in tongues?  Was there any sort of proof given at all for the comment?  I've been around the block a few times and have heard many silly comments regarding worship.  Some of them being that my church doesn't have a real worship team (couple guitarists, keyboard, violin, sax, percussion) as there's no bass player and not a full drum kit.  I've also heard that the saxophone is not an approved instrument for worship.  Some worship leaders will tell you that only certain types of songs are appropriate for worship and others are only for your own personal times. 


In other words--I'd require some pretty strong evidence to back up the cult statement regarding this particular worship group.  It makes no sense at all to this not so young brain.

Hi Shelby, I grew up in a baptist church too. Churches vary in their culture and expectation, but that particular one was quite strongly resistant to the idea that God might want to move in a pro-active sense, and really didn't want its comfortable hymn-prayer sandwich pattern of services disrupted. The idea of tongues, prophesy, raising your hands in worship etc caused a lot of trouble. People are threatened by things that they cannot control and come from outside their experience and expectation.

Not all Baptist churches are like that, thank God.

I don't know much about Jesus Culture as a group, but singing in tongues is a normal part of Spirit led worship, both in corporate and individual settings. It's normal orthodox Christian behaviour, though often forgotten about by many in the mainline traditions. Can I encourage you to remain connected to others who also exercise spiritual gifts and practice the presence of God in a tangible way, so that you can continue to walk in your present church without being pulled down or confused by the voices that want to convince you God doesn't move like that. It's a difficult place to be, but the grace of God can bring you through.

Without wishing to divert for the OP, does Johnson have anything else to say about the divinity of Christ? i.e. is there a deal breaker denying the divinity of Jesus God and man dying on the cross, or is he just a bit flaky in the areas he struggle to get his head round? I'm asking if he's a heretic or just has some odd theology.

Worth mentioning too that one can be part of a church or group of churches without subscribing to all the odd bits of doctrine that the leaders or traditions espouse (which is also back on track with the thread). So Jesus Culture might be quite orthodox in belief, even if they're from a church with some whacky aspects, just as we are working in an Anglican church but don't subscribe to some aspects of Church of England theology and tradition.

I'm a bit weirded out by this position.  I think it's an attempt to make rational, preachable doctrine out of "fully man/fully God."  After all, Paul writes, "If anybody doesn't say Jesus came in the flesh, let him be anathema (write the guy off!)"  Maybe it's trying to make the humility of Jesus easier to expain.  Personally, I don't think you can fully explain the Incarnation without becoming a heretic on one side of the fence or another, so I just let it be.  The Bethel folk, in general, are not fond of "letting things be" (and as a result, are ground-breakers in many areas) - but this dogged determination to figure things out and develop a more comprehensible theology has its pitfalls.  But, like Greg, I don't agree with Johnson that Jesus was de-Godheaded for the Incarnation ("You've seen Me, you've seen the Father.")

No song is a complete theological statement.  To make a song, you take a piece of the whole that inspires you to song, and you start to sing.  "Dance" (there's a good Kim song) describes powerfully the David moment when he danced before the Lord.  Does it mean we all should dance?  Of course not; it's a personal expression, as personal as "Thou hast removed lover and friend far from me" (Psalm 88) or the old Maranatha "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God" -- what things are "added unto us?"  Tell us, tell us, tell us now!! No, have some patience and read the Scripture and learn what "his righteousness" is and what sort of things God might "add to" our life.  Now, there are songs which are totally off-base ("Great Speckled Bird"), and songs which seem to minister to self-expectation ("Mansion Over the Hilltop").  And I would agree with your remark on "the content and context of the individual song."

Coming from a pentecostal church, we do believe in speaking in tongues and praising God in the spirit. I'm familiar with the Jesus Culture worship songs and appreciate a lot of it. However I have heard and sense in my spirit how they take things to the edge and I question how much of the spirit they take advantage of and what is true to the heart worship. I have heard them being called a cult, but I'm not so sure that is true. I find it odd when Kim laughs during songs and can find it distracting when its a deep time in worship. I like a lot of there songs, but have caught a few that take the perspective of God talking to us or even giving us praise. These songs could have been written during a worship service and just an interpretation, but If I was not there experiencing the service, than it could seem out of context. Like I said though not sure they are a cult, they just worship in the spirit in an intense way which can be difficult for some. For me worship is to focus on God and give Praise to him, not lift us up. Most of this is speculation as I have not been to actual service, but just what I get in my spirit from there albums or watching Youtube Videos.

That makes perfect sense. Thank you!

Music, always from the hand of an imperfect writer, may bless people with truth. "Joy to the World", after all, was written by a Unitarian.

You're bringing back memories of when a well-meaning person played Bethel CD's during a midweek prayer time.  I would try to pray, as the music got louder and more intense; and sometimes had to go out into the hallway to escape it.  Perfectly good music, in the right context; awful in the wrong.

I think it is quite easy to single out Jesus Culture for criticism especially in this season of YouTube dominance. A lot of Jesus Culture/Bethel Church worship times are available to view online and it is always difficult to get a sense of whether something is genuine or not when you are watching it at home maybe a year after the event took place.

One example I saw was what was described as a glory cloud YouTube vid- http://youtu.be/lvJMPccZR2Y

For me watching this I could only question whether this was real or not as I felt this would be easy to stage. The explanation of how we should respond to such phenomenon seems genuine but maybe the problem is I wasn't there when it happened so I only analyse it from my own experiences.

They do produce some great worship songs though and some not so great!

Hi Shelby

I really enjoy Kim Walker-Smith. I don't consider her band a cult. I do love how she looses herself in Worship. I don't judge a song by who wrote it or of what faith they are. I look at it and see if what it says is Worship to God. I think Speaking in Tongues is Wonderful and nothing to be afraid of.   The book of Acts talks a lot about people speaking in other tongues after being baptized in Jesus Name. Its a biblical thing that people are still living out today.   Please turn to the Bible and pray about this. Read the book of Acts which talks about the beginning of the Church and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is your best Compass.


Hi Shelby!

I would have to say (not growing up Baptist) that my favorite SBC preacher is Charles Simpson of Gulf Coast Covenant church in Mobile AL. (semi-retired now)  csmpublishing.org The original name of his ministry organization was Integrity Communications and gave rise to the Hosanna Integrity worship record label.  I believe they withdrew from the SBC a couple of decades ago but he has been "pentecostal" since the late 1960s.  So tongues and being baptist are NOT mutually exclusive.

And singing in tongues is probably as close as we can get in this life to the worship described in Revelation 5 and 7.

I'm a music minister with 35 years as a pastor in the Assemblies of God, as well as other mainline denominations.  My last A/G church had lots of contact with Bethel Church and its school of worship.  I've sat face-to-face with Valloton and have sung in tongues quite a bit, even while leading what I call "free worship" (where you play simple chords and worship God individually, in English or otherwise, in word, song or dance or sit there and 'soak it in' while gathered together).  I am now in a Methodist Church where none of that occurs except maybe a "Hallelujah" at the end of a good song, but their (and therefore my) worship is no less worship, not one single bit. 

I joined the Pentecostal fellowship to begin with as a young adult because they believed the Scripture "forbid not speaking in tongues", as well as the encouragement the Word gives to pray believing and in earnest for people and, on occasion, situations.  My Pentecostal pastors all said the same thing - it has nothing to do with emotions, but with the Word of God and the promises Jesus spoke concerning our walk on this earth. 

Speaking or singing in tongues does not make people better worshipers or better people, however.  There are Pentecostal people and even churches that make it a sort of superior thing.  There are Pentecostal people with mean and ugly attitudes (hey, I know -- remember, I was a pastor for 35 years, and met all kinds, mostly wonderful Christian people).  The apostle Paul set us straight on that issue in the first century; yet people like feeling superior because of something they can do that others can't, neener, neener.  Ignore them.  Read the Word on this subject, putting aside for awhile a doctrine called "dispensationalism", which places tongues as something meant for the first-century disciples only.  Maybe more later -- my wife needs some help on an email.

I don't think speaking in tongues means it's a cult. I like there music and take each song and value it as it speaks to me. But, test everything in light of scripture. The biblical fact is this. Paul said "Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret." 1 cor 13-13.   '28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God." 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. The problem with her singing in tongues is there is no interpreter. Totally against scripture. Keeping it to yourself is a blessing from God. Speaking it in a setting of oeople is a whole other issue. If anyone tries to justify speaking in a congregational setting or even something as small as a bible study without an interpreter it is compromise. not a place I want to be. I was Baptist too, now Calvary Chapel. I love something Hank Hannagraph said, "Know the truth so well that when a counterfit looms on the horizen you know it instantianiously". Test everything in light of scripture.


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