Originally from the UK, Benjamin is now based at Catch The Fire's headquarters in Toronto. Ben serves as the...
I have a strong belief that God releases certain flavours of His Anointing, and certain unique aspects of His Kingdom in different places and through different people. Surely, the vastness of God and sheer magnitude of his anointing cannot be contained or even reflected through one man, woman, ministry. Therefore it should come as no surprise that all around the world God is releasing different things at different times. We shouldn’t be shocked that two Jesus-centred churches with sound doctrine can feel so incredibly different from one another. This is the beauty of a massive God!
I am not a fan of jumping between churches, I believe in being firmly planted in a community. That said, I do think there is immense value in recognising what God has done and is doing in different churches around the world. So, if you’re interested in undertaking a little church tourism, here is a list of ten churches that it would be worth visiting before you die.
If you haven’t yet come across Bethel, Bill Johnson or their worship music you must have your head in the sand. Bill & Beni Johnson and all their team in California are doing an incredible job of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth in very real ways. I’m most impressed by the way that they’ve developed a culture founded in biblical wisdom and revelation, while also pursuing the tangible presence of God and seeing the signs and wonders that come along with it. I really admire the way that they promote upcoming leaders - recognizing the anointing and revelation that God is pouring out on their people - Bethel is definitely not a one-man-show. There are countless testimonies of what God is doing in their city and around the world through their ministry. Also, their worship music is some of the best out there today.
This small chapel in the mining village of Moriah was the humble home church of Henry & Hannah Roberts, whose son Evan (b.1878) would later lead the community into one of the greatest revivals in history. On the 31st of October 1904, Evan started a series of prayer meetings at Moriah in which he made urgent appeals to the people to rise and confess Christ publicly. Each night, the presence of the Holy Spirit became more powerful and more people confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. On Sunday November 6th, Evan told everyone to pray the same prayer, “O send the Holy Spirit now for Jesus Christ’s sake”. The Holy Spirit came with great fire upon all the people and the revival spread like wildfire from place to place all over Wales where people had been praying a revival would happen. The enormous influence of this revival can’t be attributed to one man, but only the power and presence of God.
As the the pioneer of The Alpha Course and the lead vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, Rev Nicky Gumbel is arguably the most influential Anglican in the world - even more so than the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was also a part of the congregation at HTB. This church has been instrumental in breathing new life into the Church of England and has been behind the rejuvenation of many old churches that were destined to close their doors. HTB founded The Alpha Course as an evangelistic tool to reach the lost in London but it has now spread to over 160 countries with 35,000 courses run every year and a total of over 15 million attendees. HTB has also been an exemplary model of church planting, keeping it as a continued focus. It was one of the first churches in England to embrace the charismatic renewal that came from the Toronto Blessing and is one of the most well respected churches in the nation. HTB is also home to many gifted worship leaders and songwriters including Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon and Martyn Layzell and they have launched a training course and worship movement called Worship Central.
Unfortunately, this historic and instrumental birthing place of revival is no longer standing today, so there isn’t a whole lot to visit any more. However, its significance in the history of modern church is not one to be overlooked, as this is widely considered to be the very roots of pentecostalism. It is here that a revival came and drew attention from media, critics and more importantly hungry believers. The Azusa Street revival began with the arrival of William Seymour in Los Angeles, California, on February 22, 1906. Seymour, initially a pastor at Hutchins’ mission, was forced out of ministry for teaching on the baptism in the Holy Spirit and it was then that he began a home Bible study and prayer meeting. It quickly became too large for the small Lee home, so it was moved two blocks to the Asberry home at 214 North Bonnie Brae Street (which you can still visit and is pictured above). On April 9, 1906, this prayer meeting was visited by a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit - several spoke in tongues, and the revival began in earnest. By April 12 they had found the empty building on Azusa Street and began meeting regularly. Six days later, the day of the San Francisco earthquake, the first article appeared in the Los Angeles press introducing Azusa Street to the world. Sadly, in July 1931, the termite-infested building that had seen enormously important between 1906 and 1909 was demolished.
As the home of The Toronto Blessing in 1994 and onwards, this church (previously Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) has received it’s fair share of media attention over the last twenty years. What began as a modest church at the end of the airport runway in Toronto rapidly became a bustling hub of believers from all over the globe when the anointing began to fall on January 20th, 1994. John & Carol Arnott were the lead pastors at the time and still oversee the ministry to this day with astounding grace and humility, they have steadily shepherded the people in the midst of one of the greatest revivals the world has ever known. The revival has continued to this day, with the same anointing and manifestations that made this move of God so unique. The ministry is growing even now with a thriving network of churches, being rapidly planted in many key cities around the world. Catch The Fire is still a revival hub for many and The Toronto Blessing’s influence has been unmeasurable in scope and scale, with many major leaders accrediting their own journey and transformation to encounters they had with God on the carpet in Toronto.
The International House of Prayer is based in Kansas City, Missouri. It runs a training facility which houses a bible school, music academy, media institute and missions school, collectively known as the International House of Prayer University (IHOPU) in nearby Grandview, Missouri. It is best known for the prayer room which has run 24/7 with live worship teams since September 19, 1999, and subsequently broadcast on its website. IHOPKC places great importance on the practices of prayer, worship, fasting, and discipleship.
The church was founded in 1994 as the "L.A. International Church" by Matthew Barnett, with the help of his father, Tommy Barnett, as a home missions project of the Southern California District. When the church began in September 1994, there were 39 members. The Dream Center is a volunteer driven organization that finds and fills the needs of over 80,000 individuals and families each month. They do this through mobile hunger relief and medical programs, residential rehabilitation programs adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, transitional housing for homeless families, foster care intervention programs, job skills training, life skills, counseling, basic education, Bible studies and more. They work to meet people where they are at, to bring them hope and a way off the streets. The Dream Center’s record of success has attracted urban missionaries and Christian leaders from across the U.S. and the world. More than 100 independent Dream Centers have been launched nationally, as well as internationally.
Hillsong Church is a Pentecostal megachurch affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Australian branch of The Assemblies of God) and located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Brian and Bobbie Houston moved from New Zealand in 1978 and joined the Sydney Christian Life Centre in Darlinghurst, pastored by Brian Houston's father, Frank Houston. They started Hillsong Church, which was then known as Hills Christian Life Centre, in August 1983 with services held at the Baulkham Hills Public School hall and with an initial congregation of 45. In 1990, the church moved from "the warehouse", which they had occupied since 1984, to hold services at the Hills Centre. In 1986, an annual conference was developed, now called Hillsong Conference.
Hillsong is affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Assemblies of God in Australia) which belongs within the Pentecostal tradition of Christianity. The church's beliefs are Evangelical and Pentecostal in that it holds the Bible as accurate and authoritative in matters of faith and that Jesus Christ reconciled humanity to God through his death and resurrection. The church believes that to live a fruitful Christian life a person should seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit enables the use of spiritual gifts, which include speaking in tongues.
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or simply St. Peter's Basilica is a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City. St. Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the two largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the Catholic Roman Rite cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter's is regarded by our Catholic brothers as one of the holiest places to worship. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". St Peter’s is also famous as a place of pilgrimage because of the liturgies that draw audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people that the Pope presides over. It is an astoundingly beautiful building and its architecture leave many in awe.
Its origins were humble. In fact, the first meeting of Lakewood Church was held in a converted feed store on the outskirts of Houston on Mother's Day, 1959. A caring atmosphere, quality leadership, and community outreach attracted people from all ages, religious backgrounds, races, and walks of life. Founding Pastor, John Osteen, known as the ‘pastor’s pastor’ made a significant impact, along with his wife, Dodie, on the church and furthermore they made a historic mark on the landscape of Christianity. Since his unexpected death in 1999, his son, Joel Osteen has assumed to role of Senior Pastor at the church. Lakewood's commitment to community outreach continues to increase, and its international media broadcast has expanded into over 200 million households in the United States.
So there it is, my personal top 10 churches to visit. I'm sure you have others that I have perhaps missed out so please comment some of your personal favourites in the comments below!
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