20 April 2014 by Natasha Kim CM-
Many gathered in City Harvest Church, Kuala Lumpur to sit in for a conversation session between Banning Liebscher, Skyler Smith, and Chris Quilala, the morning before the Jesus Culture concert on 8th of April 2014. Kim Walker-Smith, a singer of the band however, was unable to attend, though she was present during the concert. The event began as early as 9 AM with many people eagerly waiting for the start of the event, beginning with praise and worship, followed by an introduction by Pr Banning Liebscher and a conversation session.
Make your internal world, bigger than your external world
Jesus Culture was formed organically through the momentum of a movement whose focus is to equip a generation to be influencers of the society, hence the name of the band that is appropriate to their cause. Joined together in one focus, they desire to bring people into an encounter with God’s love through worship and to disciple them to transform society.
On this morning, the band came together talk about internal growth and how that leads to revival in people and in nations. During the introduction, Pastor Banning preached to the crowd, “Our life is compared to a tree bearing fruit to a nation.” God is raising up leaders so that we can bear fruit that remains, fruits that bear even more fruits for many years to come. This is because God does not want us to bear short-term fruit!
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24)
“Your foundation matters,” he shared. It’s important to develop your roots, because that is the first step of developing your fruits. Root systems are developed in hiding where it’s below the surface—dirty and messy. “God develops you when you are at your lowest so that you can rise higher. One of the key areas where you develop your roots is in your room of prayer,” said Banning. And developing a healthy root system takes time! Often, in this modern and developing world we live in, we need to remember to slow down, in times of sorrows and happiness. Do not be in a hurry but allow time to digest and allow God to tell you, your direction for the road ahead. “Don’t be in a hurry! Allow the process to play out in your life so that you can do what you have been called to do,” he shared. If everyone develops roots that are strong and sturdy, we will be able to see a change in the nation, it’s culture and even more! “Allow the Lord to develop your life and your root system that is healthy and thriving so that you can be what you need to be,” he added.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)
The Question and Answer Session
During this session, Banning, Chris and Skyler sat onstage while they answered questions posed by the crowd.
What are the biggest challenges for revival in a church or nation? And what are some of the steps to overcome that?
Chris and Skyler
“We want people to encounter God, that’s the bottom line, whether it’s through our albums, whether it’s through our ministry, service or one night. We always try to make room for the Holy Spirit to have its way, even in our music when we are recording an album, we try to arrange our songs in such a way that it’s not tied down to a structure. When revival hits, everything goes out the window, when that’s what God wants to do. We can’t stick to our structure or plans. I remember a mentor of mine once said that, “When the Holy Spirit falls on us, we need to become stronger, than we once were as opposed to weaker.” It is important to not be negative! We need to have expectations from God because God wants to make the impossible possible in our lives.
What should we do in our inner room? Worship or prayer or intercession?
I don’t think there’s a formula. There’s so many aspects of prayer, it’s like a pie with so many slices to it; sometimes it is intercession, sometimes it is worship, and sometimes it’s just sitting in His presence. Sometimes I’ll come in with a Bible or a book and just spend time reading my Bible, pray or spend time worshipping. For me, different seasons look different as well, sometimes it’s more intercession or sometimes it’s more casual. But one thing for sure is that you just really need to dedicate your time there. This is relational, go on a journey with Jesus! Get with the Holy Spirit and find out where He’s going.
What do you think God is wanting to do with the present youth generation? And how can we reach them besides using music as a tool?
I’m really excited about this generation! What we’ve noticed with a lot of our ministries with youth and young adults is that they’re really hungry for something real. There’s a lot of hope in our generation. I’m just really encouraged and really excited. We’re doing something called the culture project and if you’re called to be a businessman or business woman or actor, then do that for Christ and be full of His presence. Bring Jesus culture to your place and to your schools. Bring Jesus wherever you’re at. We do panels often and we would bring professional athletes or actors; when they’re doing their work, they’re bringing Christ and transforming culture where they feel the Lord has called them. It doesn’t mean that you’re not spiritual if you’re not in the church as a pastor or playing in the worship team. The Lord has called everybody to do something different. You’re going to be most powerful and most effective where God has called you. A lot of times, finding those things out is through what you’re most passionate about.
What inspires you to take people to a higher level of worship with God?
I always get really moved when I see people experienced the Lord in ways that they haven’t before, or even when they are just drawing close to the Lord like they haven’t before. Sometimes, just around the stage, I see somebody crying and got their hands up, then I get a little emotional too. We want to see people get changed and impacted. Moving people stirs me as well and I love to see people drawing close to the Lord.
How did God change your life? How do you know that this is where God is leading you or wants you to be?
I’ve been a Christian my whole life, my parents were Christians but I felt the Lord in a tangible way when I was 14 years old, in a youth camp during worship. In the morning when we had been broken up in small groups, our small group leader told us to pretend like it is Christmas and ask God for anything you want. I prayed for a greater freedom to worship and that night when we were having worship in a cafeteria, the Lord met me, I lifted up my hands and I felt His power, which was so strong on my life. It felt like electricity. It was beautiful but kind of scary but I felt His love and it just felt real. At that same camp, my dad was on that floor, knelt down and weeping when we were singing a song about God’s love. My dad had a rough childhood. I knew at that moment, the power of worship and the power of His presence, it was just something that I’ve always been drawn to and have been passionate about. I even had dreams that when I sang, people would be free from their chains. Those different circumstances made me feel like that was what I was called to do and I’ve given my life to it.
Where did the name “Jesus Culture” come from?
We were a youth group and I was youth pastoring in 1999, when we decided to do a youth conference at our church. We were trying to come up with a name for it, and as we were walking through a mall, there was a brand of clothing in America called “Counter Culture.” It’s not even around anymore, but when I saw it I thought, I really liked that concept that we’d raise up a generation that was counter-culture. However, I thought, I don’t really want it to be counter-culture, because we are really looking for a generation that’s Jesus-culture. So, we named our conference that, not even knowing what was going to fully happen. Then, that started to take off and we liked it. We named our band Jesus Culture and our book Jesus Culture. We just started naming everything Jesus Culture!
What is the key for campus revival? I’ve read amazing testimonies from the book Jesus Culture, how do you lead the younger generation to experience revival especially for High School students?
I don’t know Malaysia as well. I can only kind of speak on American culture. But I think for us, one of the things we have passion for is to raise up leaders. We’re called to lead and not follow. One thing about culture and I see this in campuses and universities a lot, one of the biggest lies that the Church buys is that we are along for the ride in the society. We are NOT along for the ride in society! The Lord has called us to be the head and not the tail and that we’re called to disciple nations. This is leadership influence. When the Bible says you are the head and not the tail, it’s not a picture of on top, and not the bottom; it’s that you are the head and not the tail. You’re in front, not behind, and you are called to lead, not follow. One thing I see in campuses is that people show up and are just along for the ride, not realising that their very life is the thing that is supposed to set that direction or course for that campus. I believe where a generation goes in America depends on my life, because He gave the Church the mandate to lead the culture. I think that if we can begin to make shift, and raise up leaders who will give themselves to a greater cause than themselves, and get them to really live like a leader, and if I can get them to encounter God in such a significant way where peer pressure becomes powerless, where they can walk in confidence, then we can begin to see breakthroughs. The reason why there is darkness on campuses is because the enemy has caused the people to put a basket on their light. Jesus tells us not to put a basket over our light but lets the light shine, so that all can see. He is saying that light is more powerful than darkness. Always, the minute a light is turned on, darkness flees. And if there is darkness somewhere, it’s not because there’s overpowered light, it’s because the light has hidden itself. If we can get young people to take their baskets off and be confident as leaders, then darkness has to leave.
How do you stay accountable when the Lord has put you on a platform? What keeps you grounded?
Banning, Skyler and Chris
We have a whole team that we travel with and we’ve set it up so that, no one person is so far above everybody else. This is so that everyone is comfortable approaching one another. We’ve set up this community so that everyone can be a part of everyone’s life. In a healthy way, we’re all available to have each other speak into our lives. We’re like family, we call each other all the time and it’s awesome, we’ve chosen to give each other places in our lives. The true sign of a leader is that they’re a great servant. Any influence the Lord gives is so that we can better serve people.
How would you know which ministry God is calling you to if you’ve been given a few talents? And if what He called you to do is not the ministry that you love or desire the most.
I think God puts us right where we are at for a reason, and sometimes it’s our responsibility to look far into who we’re going to be or where we’re going to, but it’s our responsibility to look at where we’re at and to be very faithful and do a good job in that. The Lord may have put those tasks in front of you, which you’re not burning or dying to do, but it’s something that He wants you to do. And so, when you’re faithful of that and you do that well, He will open up the thing in your heart that you really want to do.
What preparation do your worship team do, before worship service?
Chris and Banning
Worship is a lifestyle. We never step out of that mode. Other than the practices we do, I think that we do not have a lot of things that we change intentionally. We just try to live a lifestyle, that’s it. It just has to be an outflow from your life. If what’s happening on stage is better than what’s happening in secret, you’re in trouble. It’s only impressive when you are all by yourself with nobody else around you, and you lift your voice up to the Lord. Your public ministry cannot be bigger than your private ministry to the Lord.
After Banning, Skyler and Chris completed answering the questions posed by the crowd, they began to pray for every one that came that day. It was truly a great experience of getting to know band members that are simply genuinely in love with the Lord and what they do for His Kingdom.