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Identifying New Apostolic Reformation churches in your city

Google search for NAR churchesAfter I speak about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and its dangers, a question I’m often asked is, “Do you think there are any NAR churches where I live?” My answer is “Almost certainly. Churches that hold to NAR beliefs can be found in pretty much every city and town.”

The next question is, “How do I know which churches those are?” That’s a very good question since most NAR churches don’t put the words “New Apostolic Reformation” on their street sign or website. So how are you supposed to know if they’re part of NAR?

Here are five tips to help you locate NAR churches your area. Keep in mind that some of these churches have formally joined an “apostolic network”–that is, a network of churches that’s governed by an apostle or group of apostles. These are typically hardcore NAR churches, and may be easier to identify. Yet many other churches have come under significant NAR influence, even though they have not formally joined an apostolic network. These churches may be part of a Pentecostal denomination, such as the Assemblies of God or Foursquare Church. Or they may be independent charismatic churches that are not affiliated with any denomination. These tips will help you locate those NAR-influenced churches, too.

5 Tips for Identifying NAR Churches

Search the Internet using the name of your town or city along with the keywords “church” and “apostolic” or “prophetic” or “fivefold ministry” (also sometimes hyphenated as “five-fold ministry”). Be aware that the search term “apostolic” might provide links to churches that are not generally associated with NAR, but rather use the word “apostolic” to refer to their conviction that they hold to the teachings of Christ’s original apostles. For this reason–in addition to a church’s use of the word “apostolic”–it’s helpful to look for additional signs of NAR beliefs.

Read their statement of faith. These statements can often be found on a church’s website. Some churches’ statements will include the core NAR belief that the church’s government is supposed to include present-day apostles and prophets. See, an example, of this NAR belief stated on the website of Bethel Church in Redding, California, on a page titled “Our Mission.” It reads:  “We embrace the biblical government of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.” This NAR belief is also known as “fivefold ministry,” a term that can sometimes be found in statements of faith, such as this statement from Agape Church, in Sunnyvale, Texas. Notice how this particular church mentions “five-fold ministry,” without using the terms “apostle” and “prophet.” Is that because they know how controversial their belief is and don’t want to draw too much attention to it?

But keep in mind: many other NAR churches have adopted fairly standard statements of faith that make no reference to their NAR beliefs. So don’t look only at a church’s statement of faith.

Pay attention to guest speakers and how they’re introduced. Are they referred to as apostles or prophets? This is an important clue since the defining teaching of NAR–which sets it apart from historic, Protestant Christianity–is its teaching about present-day apostles and prophets who possess extraordinary authority and reveal new truths for the church. Other Protestant Christians, including Pentecostals and charismatics, have not typically believed that there is a role in their churches for governing apostles and prophets.

Look for distinctive NAR practices, such as a church hosting SOZO sessions or operating a 24/7 prayer room or a “Healing Room.” NAR churches often offer courses that train people to prophesy or learn to work other types of miracles. Some NAR churches have even started their own “School of Supernatural Ministry,” utilizing curriculum developed by Bethel Church in Redding, California.

Watch for promotion of well-known NAR organizations, such as Bethel Church in Redding, California (founded Bill Johnson), or the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri (founded by Mike Bickle). Some ways a church might promote a NAR organization is by providing links to their websites or advertising the organization’s upcoming conferences. They might share the leaders’ Facebook comments or even invite them to speak at their church. Any church that invites Bill Johnson to speak is almost certainly steeped in NAR.

Of course, just because a church has started a 24/7 prayer room–or the pastor retweets  a message by Bill Johnson–doesn’t guarantee that it’s a NAR church. These tips are not foolproof. But, more often than not, they can help point you in the right direction.

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Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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15 Responses to “Identifying New Apostolic Reformation churches in your city”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Holly –
    I’ve found myself referring to your writing and discussions on this topic a lot lately, in light of some extremely divisive behaviors I’ve taken notice of from people who were once very close to me in the church. I will be praying for you in your work and efforts, as I have noticed recently that it is a lot easier for me to become cynical towards others, so I can only imagine how finding a lot of these very dangerous teachings can be a heavy burden to bear.

    I do have a question with regards to teachers like Robert Morris and Gateway Church and those in the umbrella of “Association of Related Churches”. I know that Kari Jobe does come out of Gateway Church, and her association with Bethel clearly is a huge warning sign, but on the whole is Gateway Church part of the NAR movement as well? I know the biggest criticism about Gateway is Robert Morris’ regular insistence that a tithe is a requirement, or else we are stealing from God. Is the use of the tithe and confusion between tithe/offering common in NAR teaching as well.

    Bless you in your work.

  2. Sandy Says:

    Thank you, Holly. Beside “five-fold” ministry, “apostle” and “prophet” I have noticed a new term, “General,” which seems to be a kind of informal title for leaders in the NAR movement. They are “generals” of “Joel’s Army,” or “the New Breed,” the elite group of Christians endowed with supernatural powers.
    Churches in this movement also talk about being a part of the “revival,” but it is not the kind of soul-winning evangelism that most Christians would associate with the term revival. For example, a new church in our city states that it wants to bring about revival by “mass supernatural encounters.”

  3. Holly Says:

    Yes, thanks, Sandy — all good points.

  4. Byron Wilson Says:

    Hi Holly,

    You can add Jubilee worship center at st cloud, Minnesota to the list of NAR Churches..

    I went there one Sunday to check it out and asked God to confirm that I if was not supposed to go there by three different things..

    I never ask God for confirmation of a sign but this time I did..

    1) If anyone was to just lay hands on me without my permission
    2) If someone came over and Prophesied to me.
    3) If tithing was Brought up..

    I could sense/feel the soulpower..The songs were all focused on I gonna do this and be great for God…me me me..

    Normally Charismatic/NAR types Of Churches take up tithes and Offerings after worship time and announcements.

    Right when the Pastor came up to welcome people to church a lady sitting on the front row went up with a note pad and the Pastor handed her the Mike..

    she then proceeded to tell the Church that the pastor did not push her to say anything but during worship the “Lord” gave her a word..

    She went onto say to bring all the tithes in the store house and your 90% will go further if you tithe..she mentioned the curse and so on in a manipulative way..I got up and walked out..Thanking God!!!!

    One thing I that Know is that Jesus and the Apostles never quoted :

    “you are cursed for not tithing”

    So anyone who says you are cursed for not Tithing is Deceived and heading into being a false teacher plucked up by the roots twice dead awaiting the everlasting Punishment…

  5. Robert Says:

    Holly,thank you for sharing this article I was going to a full gospel non-denominational church 5 fold ministry. So I been praying to find a church that is true at teaching God’s word. I wanted to ask does all charismatic movement churches make them NAR

  6. Holly Says:

    Robert, what makes a church NAR is the belief in the present-day governing offices of apostle and prophet. Classical Pentecostal and charismatic churches have not believed in present-day apostles and prophets who govern churches.

  7. Roz Says:

    My husband and I just left a church like this. I was there for almost 2 years but the past 6 months God really started opening my eyes. I knew some things they were doing made me uncomfortable but I brushed it off. I started studying prophets in the Bible.. how were they deemed a prophet..how did God speak to them..how do you test a word or prophecy given. It’s funny in 2 years we were never taught how to test a prophetic word or how to recognize a false prophet. I do believe God still chooses men to reveal prophetic words to. I do believe scripture so to say that the gifts of the spirit aren’t real anymore or aren’t relevant to today would be ridiculous if you are a scripture based believer. In saying that, I never read about a class being given to learn how to prophesy. When God wanted to give someone a dream or a vision, He did it. When he wanted someone to say something He told them what to say. You don’t have to “try” to conjure this stuff up. And I also don’t think Prophets are floating around like loose change. From what I read in the scripture, man didn’t get to decide who a prophet was..God always named the prophet. I also felt very uncomfortable with the fact that the “apostle” had no covering. He submitted to no one while everyone was submitted to him. One reason I started getting uncomfortable was they are so focused on signs and wonders and miracles.. all good stuff.. all things that sometimes come along with being a believer. But it got to the point where it was almost mystical. In fact they used the word mystical a lot. One night I was studying the New Testament about false prophets.. it said that many will come and perform signs and wonders so people will be deceived.. they will even try to deceive the elect. I asked myself “would my church know the difference between what was from God and what was from Satan” my answer was “I don’t rethink they would”. Because they are so caught up in the supernatural they follow anyone who can operate in it. I began to look a tough the leadership.. how did they behave outside of he church.. what were they teaching.. and found some major life style inconsistencies and scripture twisting. I felt like the Holy Spirit was warning me that I was not under sound leadership. Now that I’m gone I’m struggling with what was real and what wasn’t. I’ve been indoctrinated for 2 years. I didn’t realize it until we left that it almost felt like a cultish environment. Our “apostle” did not like to be questioned.. he was very harsh and aggressive with people who questioned him or any of his staff. That’s when we decided to get outback of there. He also did something else that was weird to me. The highest contributors had reserved seats on the front row. I never understood that. Anyway, I gave you plenty to read. That’s been my first experience with a nondenominational church. I am a spirit filled believer, that in itself may scare you if you don’t believe scripture and have never experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but some of this stuff boarders on sorcery. I’d say you have to be very careful when trying to conjure up the supernatural. And you best know the scripture for yourself because had I not been familiar with scripture I may have fallen prey. I knew enough to question what I was seeing and hearing. It was just so hard to come to terms with because I guess I imagined false prophets to look false. I imagined them with spells and magic boards.. no, they were worshiping and teaching scripture..but it wasn’t the very subtle things that caught my attention. They are in our churches. They look like we do. 90% of what they say and do may be right but it’s the 10% that can have devastating affects.

  8. JSL Says:

    It looks like the author does not really understand the NAR, and is conflating certain sectors of the Charismatic movement and the Prophetic movement with the New Apostolic Reformation, which is inaccurate.

    The Charismatic and Prophetic movements share certain commonalities with the NAR, because they are both rooted in Pentecostalism. But commonalities should not be construed as “equality.” Many denominations baptize by immersion. This commonality does not mean every denomination that baptizes by immersion is essentially the same denomination.

    I don’t think the author really understands the differences and the nuances that separate various streams of the Charismatic, Prophetic, and modern Pentecostal movements. Many churches and denominations that exhibit the author’s “signs of an NAR church” have never heard of the New Apostolic Reformation. Trust me. That is because the NAR is not this massive umbrella she is making it out to be.

    This is what happens when someone in a discernment ministry latches on to something they think is an egregious error and gets overzealous about “exposing” it. They begin to see it everywhere. Before long, any person or ministry that shares even the slightest similarity gets fully identified with the “error.”

  9. Holly Says:

    My article states that the core NAR belief–that sets it apart from classical Pentecostals and historic charismatics — is in authoritative, governing apostles and prophets. This belief is often referred to as “fivefold ministry.” The other signs I mention are clues that a church may be NAR — and, for good reason. 24/7 prayer, for example, is a practice that has been popularized by Mike Bickle. We explain in our books how his teachings about 24/7 prayer are related to NAR. Sozo has been popularized by Bethel Church in Redding, which is one of the most influential NAR churches today (led by the apostle Bill Johnson. So, how exactly, was my article inaccurate?

  10. Grace Says:

    Almost every church in Singapore is influenced by NAR …..
    Even non denominations have it subtly happen by the speakers they engage to preach and teach….
    I can smell it whenever I converse with such people…

    There is a dead giveaway…
    It is spiritual discernment.

    Really sad, some pastors and leaders just compromise so as not to cause division.

    Almost every pastor I met do not make a stand, or they are ignorant or arrogant, or being deceived!

    This makes me wonder how close are they walking with Christ , and to think they wanna lead and shepherd God’s Flock put under their care?

    Really disheartening … No conviction, only compromise…
    Are they so confident to stand before God to give an account?

    God bless

  11. Sandy Says:

    The New Apostolic Reformation is so big that it has caught the attention of secular researchers Brad Christerson & Richard Flory, sociologists at the University of Southern California. They studied the fastest growing independent networked charismatic Christian groups from 2009 to 2016. Their findings were published in The Rise of Network Christianity (Oxford 2017).

    Worldwide, the numbers of these independent charismatics are approaching the numbers of Roman Catholics. The fastest-growing subcategories of Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians were charismatics not affiliated with any denomination, and Apostolic groups, who emphasize living apostles and prophets. They characterize the growth rate of the apostolic sub-group as “phenomenal.”

    Christerson and Flory define Independent Network Charismatic Christianity (INC) as charismatic groups that have replaced traditional church structures with informal networks and replaced traditional church governance with “apostles,” who they call “religious entrepreneurs.” They trace the history of this movement and note that Peter Wagner, one of the prominent leaders, called it the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).

    The NAR groups studied were Bethel (Bill Johnson’s church in Redding, California), International House of Prayer (IHOP), Harvest International Ministries, and the Wagner Leadership Institute. They also interviewed leaders in other associated groups, such as Youth With a Mission.

    Cristerson and Flory are researchers, not a discernment ministry, so their interest was in the size and growth rate of Independent Network Charismatic Christianity, how they govern themselves, their networks, beliefs and practices, and innovations in finance and marketing.

    For their research, they attended events, conferences, leadership training events and church services from 2009 to 2016, interviewed leaders, and examined financial and other documents and records from the ministries themselves.

    The innovative marketing and finance methods of INC (NAR) bring in millions of dollars not dependent solely on donations. For example, Bethel Church takes in $37 million dollars a year, and only $7 million comes from direct donations. IHOP’s annual budget is $100 million.

    The researchers report a shift in mission from individual salvation to the transformation of social units (cities, nations), and unprecedented financial support through innovative marketing that does not rely on donations.

    But the defining element of the fastest-growing subgroup of Christianity is the shift from the authority of the Word of God and governance by the church to governance by living apostles and prophets who speak for God. And that is precisely what Holly has been warning the church about.

  12. Lynn Holzinger Says:

    As a girl, I often wondered why our church taught that certain gifts were not for today. Since that time, I realized not everyone believes this. The church I now attend is not NAR, but certainly embraces some of its teachings. We teach that anyone can speak prophetically, that all the gifts are for today and that healing is something that happens regularly. Earlier this month, we hosted Hillsong and Brian Houston and next month, we host Bethel Music and John Bevere. I was so excited. But we had to miss the first one due to a family wedding we had to travel to and we are missing the second one due to a family gathering. Recently and quite out of the blue I had a desire to research Bill Johnson as I have heard conflicting things about him. Some of the things people in our church get excited about have made me uncomfortable. I attended a conference with David Herzog and Doug Addison and came home traumatized (they are definitely NAR). I attended the Call in LA with Lou Engle and other NAR leaders (except I knew nothing of NAR at the time) and loved the worship but left early and thought I missed most of the good stuff that happened. I was not freaked out at all, but later wondered if anything supernatural had actually happened. I didn’t come home changed. I have been on both the prophetic and prayer teams at our church. Now, and its hard to explain, I am having serious doubts. I attend a large church but hope to get in to see the elders to talk about my concerns about where our church stands on dominionism and restoring the offices of apostle and prophet. I’ve never heard most of the lingo used in our church except maybe some among a core group of the prophetic and prayer teams. I have done quite a bit of research on Mormonism when I was interacting with Mormon missionaries and believe it or not, I see some similarities between Mormonism and NAR. This concerns me a great deal.

  13. Holly Says:

    Lynn, I’d love to hear an update after you meet with your church leaders.

  14. Susan Lathrop Says:

    Holly I am really disheartened in San Diego. There are so many NAR churches and often they are big churches that no one knows is connected to a NAR leader. I know many of the leaders in the movement and so I recognize when one comes to speak to a church. My church is not a NAR church but recently the youth went to Bethel influenced singing concert. Our worship pastor believe that Bethel is off but that the music is okay to use. I am so confused. It has seeped into so many churches in San Diego I don’t know where to turn. The more I research the more that is revealed. I was around in the 80’s when this first came around and the churches mostly rejected it. Now alarmingly it is coming full force a second time….although it never did die. I was involved in a church in the 80’s that was deceived and finally recognized it. But to all of a sudden find out that a pastor you trust has been connected to a NAR person….I just don’t know where it is safe. I am a church person without a church and that means you are really at risk doing Christianity without believers around you. The pastors at the church I go to do not understand what the youth are getting involved in. I don’t even know if the Youth pastor realizes what is happened. FREAKED out and UNSAFE in San Diego. Can you private message me if you can recommend me to any churches that are charismatic and okay in San Diego. I live in Mission Valley. North County…Carlsbad, ect too far. I am in the urban part of San Diego. That you if you have any referrals. I am really in despair over this as I deal with mental health stuff also and I need the support of the church in prayer and to keep me out of isolation.

  15. Charity Jackson Says:

    We recently attended a conference that we now realize was NAR associated. We heard really good stuff the first two days. We heard from the Holy Spirit continually. Then on the third day, we also heard from the Holy Spirit. He said leave and leave now. That’s exactly what we did. I swear as the day is long I saw demonic stuff happening. I saw a very cultish environment and the supernatural school students worshipping their leaders. I’m not passing judgement. I’m still glad I went. I needed to see how evil is infiltrating the churches. Obvious new age and Hinduism practices shining through what they try and say is moving in the spirit but nothing I saw glorified God. It is truly saddening to me because they are all so deceived. It also saddens my spirit that they are targeting these kids. Satan is twisting scripture ever so slightly and pulling the church off the truth. I never would’ve believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes but boy did I see it. So grateful for discernment. My husband and I have been and will continue to be in prayer for all of them. 😢

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