Bethel Music tour the UK

Posted by Sam Hailes  ·  Be the first to comment

The worship team from Redding, California based mega church Bethel have spent the last week and a half touring the UK. The church, which reguarly attracts over 3000 people to its services is perhaps best known for their charismatic pastor Bill Johnson, author of When Heaven Invades Earth

The Bethel Band

(c) Mikey Oldfield used with permission

Bill Johnson's ministry has since birthed the church's 'School of Supernatural Ministry' which hosts interns from across the world. Add in the increasing high profile of their youth band Jesus Culture, and it's clear that Bethel Church is one of America’s most famous congregations.

Having written many popular worship songs such as One Thing Remains and You Are Good, Bill Johson's son Brian led the first half of the UK tour with his wife Jenn.

William Matthews

(c) Mikey Oldfield used with permission

The latter half of the tour featured worship leaders Jeremy Riddle (writer of Furious) and William Matthews (writer of Deep Cries Out). (The reason for the split being the Johnsons and Jeremy Riddle didn't want to be away from their children for too long).

I was at Southampton’s Central hall for the penultimate night of the tour. The sold out event had attracted a mainly young audience, who were pouring into an increasingly hot auditorium.

A short introduction from Jeremy Riddle moved everyone onto the same page. The agenda was to worship God and "see what happens".

From a purely musical point of view, the evening was superb. Neither 34 year old Jeremy nor new artist William Matthews put a note wrong all evening. Much of the band, Riddle included, seem to lead with permanent smiles. A sense of joyful exuberence was soon felt across the room.

Central Hall, Southampton

(c) Mikey Oldfield used with permission

After some of Bethel’s most well known songs had been played at top volume, William Matthews did a short talk on adventure. Starting by saying he felt God had told him to buy the original Peter Pan book that day, the singer explained God wanted to “restore a sense of adventure”.

His words met with woops and cheers, William continued to encourage people to go “deeper into the spirit”.

Talking about a church he had once been in, William said: “My relationship with God looked how this church did. It was old. It had pictures on the wall but nothing necessarily going on in the heart. Worship was all about the choir singing. I was so scared to worship. It was a battle to even stand up and worship."

“I’d go to church and stand up and sit down and do this and do that. There was this one guy who would just run through the sanctuary. He wasn’t all there! I would judge him and think that’s so tacky, but inwardly I wanted that freedom.”

Jeremy Riddle

(c) Mikey Oldfield used with permission

Speaking of God, William said: “He longs for us to not care what it looks like. There’s nothing that should be able to contain the love that we feel. Holiness is joyful. In his presence there is fullness of joy. God wants us to experience joy and pleasure and the wildness of who he is. Who wants that tonight?”

With those final words, the packed crowd stood to their feet as William commanded them to “do something you’ve never done before in worship”.

While there were a few uncomfortable faces to begin with, by the end of the evening you’d look more out of place if you weren’t dancing than if you were.

As the final chords rung out across the room, Phil Smith emerged from behind his percussion set to address the room.

Although most would have assumed he was part of the Bethel team, Phil was not. Rather he is the pastor at VineLife church in Manchester and had helped bring Bethel to the UK.

“You may be wondering why that is,” he said.

“It’s because we believe God is moving us to a time when the church will be the most visible thing in the earth”.

It wasn’t the only bold statement made that evening. There’s no doubt that Bethel’s musicians are very talented and gifted. Their music draws a crowd, and rightly so. Their in-your-face style and message doesn't appeal to everyone, but the feeling in the room seemed unanimous. It had been a powerful two hours.

(c) Mikey Oldfield used with permission

All pictures copyright Mikey Oldfield.

28th May

May 28th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes

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