LOS ANGELES -- Billy Graham went from an unknown preacher to one of the world’s most influential evangelists – and it all started at a big tent revival in Los Angeles, Calif.
Almost 70 years later, and after Graham’s passing, many things have changed – but one thing hasn’t: seeking revival.
Bill Johnson, senior lead pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, took the church from a small congregation in a quaint California town to having a global impact. But when he began in 1996, he had just one stipulation: that the message would always be about revival.
Bethel Music is holding its third annual “Heaven Come” conference in the City of Angels, while reports indicate almost half of Chrisitan millennials think evangelism, or sharing their faith, is wrong.
But Bethel sees millennials from all over the world flood into its school of supernatural ministry. And for a church that has grown so much, it's not so much about the numbers -- but about personal revival.
“I love to see crowds burn but I know I can shape history if I can just find one,” Johnson, a fifth-generation pastor, said in a video promo for the conference. "Anybody can burn in a crowd, I want one that will burn by themselves."
Thousands are expected to pack the Microsoft Theater from Thursday to Saturday in a conference that features worship, preaching, and panels with Steven Furtick, Christine Caine, Robert Madu, Kris Valloton, and Lindy Conant-Cofer.
Bethel Music co-founders and worship pastors Brian and Jenn Johnson will be hosting, alongside the entire Bethel Music Team.
Bethel is known for its prayer – giving a word from God – and spontaneous worship, where worship leaders sing what’s in their hearts at the moment. It’s not as scripted as your typical Christian conference – at least not from the attendee’s viewpoint.
When Graham spoke about his big tent revival, he said people came for different reasons.
"People came to the meetings for all sorts of reasons, not just religious ones," Graham wrote in his book, "Just As I Am." "No doubt some were simply curious to see what was going on. Others were skeptical and dropped by just to confirm their prejudices. Many were desperate over some crises in their lives and hoped they might get a last chance to set things right.”
There will be another Bethel's Heaven Come conference meeting in Dallas, Texas, at the end of August.