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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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