Tuesday, December 11, 2007

International Charasmatic Mission Church (G12)

Church Field Trip # 21

It's kind of hard to miss a new church that meets two miles from my house with a sign out front that reads: Revolution South Florida. From here on out, it gets a little confusing. International Charismatic Mission Church (ICMC) is a G12 cell church. G12 is an international cell-church network based out of Bogota, Columbia. According to Anthony, the pastor of the South Florida G12 Network, Revolution SF is the theme for this year, placing an emphasis on reaching the teens and twenty-somethings of South Florida. They have services every Saturday night at 8, targeting the younger generation; and they have services every Sunday morning at 10, for families and everyone else.

After hearing many of my christian peers complain about the mega-church movement leaving discipleship by the wayside, it is interesting to see a church/movement that is entirely made up of small discipleship groups. In G12, small groups aren't a ministry of the church, they are the church.

We arrived on time at 10 am, only to find that they run on "Spanish time, which means 20 minutes late", according to Anthony's wife, Jennifer. We received two bilingual greetings and soon discovered that everything was done bilingually; literally everything. The music - two singers singing in both English and Spanish interchangeably; and the preaching was done by two gentlemen bilingually and also interchanging throughout. You would think that this would either be frustrating or confusing, but it was neither. It took about 20 minutes to get used to it, and I would imagine that if I went to this church every week, I would probably learn a lot of Spanish. Anthony himself said that before he joined G12 and started the South Florida network with 8 people 6 years ago, he didn't speak any Spanish. Now he is fluently bilingual.

The service was in a former school gymnasium and there were probably about 500 people in attendance (over 1000 for the weekend.) They did an excellent job of transforming the space into an environment conducive for a great worship experience. To say that the worship experience was off the chain would be an understatement. They were loud, really loud. They were excited - everyone in the building - 100% participation. There was an energy level that I have never before seen in a church service. It was much more like going to a concert than going to a church service. We really had a great time. During one high energy song, they actually pulled one girl from the neo-pit that had formed at the front of the stage and let her freestyle rap during the song. I wish I could have gotten video of that moment - it was awesome. Now let me say two things that will undoubtedly bring me back for a repeat visit to this church.

  1. The lead singer is actually the daughter of the leader of the worldwide G12 network. She and her band, Soulfire, were not present for this service. They are out touring and will be back in January. So that means that this was the "backup" band which rocked our socks off. Unbelievable. The worship leader, Vince, also told us that the preacher was a "backup preacher" which is also significant because he knocked it out of the park along with his Spanish partner.

  2. We went to the Sunday morning service geared toward families. I can't imagine what the energy level must be like at the Saturday night service.
The whole service was somewhat chaotic, with people milling about, kids playing, mother's feeding their kids, people quietly talking, and I even saw at least one person on their laptop during the teaching time. For those of you who worship structure and organization, this would be a distracting nightmare - but for us, it was quite enjoyable. My wife described it as such, "It was like being at a wedding reception. Everyone was having a good time and just celebrating life." And for those of you who would dare to walk into a church like this and ask, "What are you going to do for my children?" or "I want my kids to be entertained." or "What youth and children's ministries do you offer?" (Come on. You know who you are.) The answer would be - "Stuff it. Go find a consumer-driven church. There are plenty of them." (That's my answer, not theirs.)

The topic for the sermon was "Understanding the Times", derived from I Chronicles 12. The pastor also used Nehemiah 2:17, II Cor. 13:5, Phil. 1:6, and Acts 3. He used a handful more verses, but I admit that I was lost at times, and was struggling to keep up. Having two preachers, one for each language, was fun and entertaining. They played off of each other and joked with each other, especially when there were translation difficulties. They were both equally energetic and engaging.

Here are some notable quotes:

"Don't wait for someone else to do what God has put in your heart for you to do."

"There are 3 types of people:
  1. People who watch things happen
  2. People who wonder what happened
  3. People who make things happen

"How many warriors are in here?" At which point, he had us yelling like a scene out of Braveheart - Referencing I Chronicles 12:38. This church took audience participation to a whole new level. By the end of the service I was worn out and almost hoarse. But man, did I have a good time.

"God is here to meet you at the point of your need."

"God is in the restoration business."

"There are four things that you need to do.

  1. Examine yourself
  2. Ask for God's forgiveness
  3. Have confidence in God's calling
  4. Get busy doing God's work

To say that they presented the Gospel in a clear and convicting manner would be a gross understatement. If there was ever a church that didn't need to present the Gospel, it would be a G12 church. They don't actually expect anyone to just walk in off the street (like we did) because of their model of cell group evangelism. But that didn't stop them from presenting the Gospel in possibly the most compelling fashion that we've seen to date. I was starting to wonder if they were going to check us at the door and make sure that we were saved before we left.

As we were leaving, Pastor Anthony and his wife, Jennifer snagged us and engaged us in conversation for about 10 minutes about the G12 vision and God's calling on our lives. We exchanged contact information with them, as the church did not have any printed materials available - no bulletin, no brochures, no guest card, nothing. Very organic.

I shot some video, but, like a moron, I accidentally recorded it without audio. Sorry, I am an idiot. But I figured I would throw the video up anyways.


Anonymous said...

G-12 is the brainchild of Joel Comiskey. He was a missionary in South America with the Christian & Missionary Alliance for a number of years and used this model to grow his church to over 100,000.

He's now involved with a new church plant somewhere in California. I've heard that it's been quite a bit slower in getting this one off the ground using this model. Some have questioned whether it can work in America.

I'm glad to see someone is having success with it in the States. If I were to ever plant a church it would be very similar to the G-12 model.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and I meant to leave this behind in my last post.


revolution said...

that's funny. i haven't seen joel's name mentioned in any of the G12 literature nor on the wikipedia page for G12.

Chris said...

Thanks again Lew for the report. What exactly is a neo-pit?

revolution said...

right in front of the stage, there were about 20 or 30 people/kids who had gathered there to worship. i've never actually seen people leave their seats and head towards the stage (like they would at a concert) during worship.

it was like a benign pit without the moshing. very cool indeed in my book.

and when they pulled a teenage girl up from the crowd, handed her the mic, and she started freestyle rapping in the middle of the song - I was blown away.

revolution said...

I suppose I should add that there were no tongues being spoke during the service. One might be led to beleive, from my description, that this was a charismaniac experience - but it was not.

It was just a really good time had by all.

rev'onite said...

This is the first review you've done that made me want to go to church again. This seems like something worth experiencing.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Maybe as I was reading what he has written about G-12 I just assumed he came up with the concept? Either way...


Fred said...

i liked the review...everything except you telling me to "stuff it". Later!!!


Mayoliv said...

Great Review,really gave me a good look inside the church. When are we going? I got to check out that chick with the freestyle.

Amapola said...

I truely have to say that i was a member of the church and i truely loved it. All the pastoral family was incredible. THey are an amazing family all together with the church members. G-12 changed my life completely and am glad i went. It's not just about a chick freestyling like one of the comments says, its about singing for God.

I love G12 and ill recommended to anyone.

G12 in Miami is incredibly amazing i could imagine colombia!

ucantseeme said...

Unless youve been in a church doing the G-12 for at least 5+ years you dont know the damage it does to american chuches. excluding the church in florida because its leaders are not Americans the heads are from Bogota, these people from Bogota serve from the heart, they have true LOVE for people and thats why it works for them, their motives are right, but ive seen the G-12 applied wrong damage so many lives here in Hawaii you wouldnt laugh or snear at me when you hear all the horror stories and to me its sad, something that could of been great is applied wrong and so many have been hurt.

Christopher said...

I've had some experience of a G12 church in the UK and I feel you should all be warned about it.
The main trouble is one of legalism and control- a controlling spirit.
The damage it does is subtle and takes a long time before it is revealed- but I would say beware, and don't get involved if you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable with it.

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