Jesus Culture is a global movement, awakening hearts to worship and demonstrate the love and power of God wherever we go. We are passionate to see campuses, cities and nations transformed and we have a mandate: to raise, equip, and mobilize those who were coming to fulfill the call of God on their lives. We do this through the ministry of conferences, events, worship, campus ministries, curriculums, resources and now a local church. Jesus Culture is continuing to grow in bringing young people into encounters with Jesus and equipping them to minister His heart to a broken world…but it wasn’t always this way. Here’s a brief look into the beginnings of our ministry.
Jesus Culture began with the “Yes” of one young man — Banning Liebscher — from Redding, California — with a dream in his heart to raise a generation to love and serve the Lord by discipling nations.
In the summer of 1999, our youth group at Bethel Church in Redding, California, pastored by Banning Liebscher, launched the very first Jesus Culture Conference. With staff included, about 500 attended. God showed up in a powerful way. We continued to host gatherings and each year the conferences continued to grow. Always at these conferences, Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala and Melissa How, who were the worship leaders in our youth group, would lead. Their heart was to serve and be a part of what God was doing.
The name ‘Jesus Culture’ was actually derived from a shopping trip. One day Banning was walking through the mall and saw a hat branded with the logo, ‘Counter Culture.’ He liked the concept, but didn’t aspire to raise a counter culture, only one that focused on Jesus. Therefore, the name ‘Jesus Culture’ was born.
By 2005, the worship was so strong in these conferences we decided to try and capture what was taking place. We produced our first album, ‘Everything.’ Initially, we recorded mostly covers, because we were just trying to embrace what was happening at the conference. We even included young people praying on the original album.
In 2005 we took our first event out of Redding, to Atlanta, Georgia. There, we encountered God with 300 passionate believers. Just as we had done in Redding, we trained and dispersed the young people and there were healings in the streets. The teenagers and youth were really excited and encouraged that the Lord was using them. In 2006, we continued to add more conferences in places like Orange County, Dallas and others.
The following year, our Creative Director suggested we film a DVD, so we borrowed several different cameras (including an old PBS broadcast camera) and created our own DVD. This was our debut time in the local convention center because we had outgrown our venue at Bethel.
Kim Walker-Smith had just come home from a year in Charlotte, at ‘Morning Star Church’, and introduced us to John Mark McMillan’s song, ‘How He Loves.’ We recorded this on our DVD album ‘We Cry Out’ (2007). Kim didn’t want us to use the extended speaking section of the song, but we loved it so much we went ahead, and are thankful we did. It has ministered to so many.
2005 marked our first international conference in England. In 2006, we went to Australia, where 85 hungry revivalists gathered in Melbourne.
Since then, Jesus Culture has had events in many nations all around the world including Germany, France, Hungary, Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Brazil, Columbia, New Zealand and South Africa, and have gathered over 90,000 to date.
As we grew, Banning needed more time to lead Jesus Culture to where the Lord was directing us. So, in 2008, we transitioned from the local youth group into an individual ministry. ‘Jesus Culture’ was still under the covering of Bethel Church, but separate to their youth group.
In 2011, God called us to Chicago to empower a generation that would bring transformation to our nation and the rest of the world. This was our first arena gathering, and we experienced three days of passionate worship, powerful teaching and ministry. On the final night we stood in awe as fourteen thousand spontaneously worshiped Him for almost twenty minutes. The ongoing testimonies from these participants and the hundreds of thousands who watched online, confirmed to us God’s presence and power was released over those days in a phenomenal way to mark a generation.
After hosting many conferences, we were beginning to understand more of what the Lord had us establishing. We knew we didn’t want to have only catalytic events, but desired to help people with the process of being a revivalist. There are five main areas that have emerged to define Jesus Culture. In order for us to carry out the mandate of equipping and mobilizing a generation of revivalists, Jesus Culture focuses on events, music, campuses, leadership, and resources. This includes ‘Campus Awakening, the ‘Jesus Culture Emerge’ curriculum, and our most recent initiative, ‘The Culture Project.’
Jesus Culture started out of the youth group at Bethel church and we have been committed to the local church here in Redding, CA for the past 18 years and serving and supporting local churches both in America and internationally has always been one of the main focuses of our ministry. Recently, we were sent out from Bethel to Sacramento with the purpose to plant a local expression of Jesus Culture as well as relocate the ministry as well. We are dedicated to the local church and we believe God wants to see cities transformed and campuses impacted through the local church and we are investing everything we have in seeing that happen. You can learn more about the local church here.
God is reviving this generation because He wants cities and nations to be saturated in His presence, know the truth of the Gospel and personally encounter Him. Because of a generation who are giving themselves for His cause in the earth, Hope is alive.