ARISE CHURCH REVIEW – Josh Barley Interview

Josh Barley – former Arise Church member

Josh Barley was raised in a devout Christian family. He eventually left the faith and became an atheist. He felt so strongly about how his former church, “Arise Church” targeted young people was wrong, that he created a blog about them (link to an archive of it) to expose their agenda, methods, and goals.  For more on Arise Church, see the links at the bottom of this article.  

Were you raised in a religious family?

Both of my parents are committed Christians so this had a substantial effect on the way in which they raised myself and my two siblings. Many of the ways in which our family functioned were driven by Christian principles. Ever since I can remember our family attended church most Sundays, typically Pentecostal type ones, and usually mornings but sometimes evenings. I think my parents were attracted to the charismatic personalities that often grace the pulpits of these churches. For our family, going to church was a priority and considered a necessary commitment to God as well as an opportunity to socialize. We prayed over our meal during every dinner time and sometimes one of us kids was asked to take the prayer. The “rod” was not spared and was used quite liberally for disciplinary actions. Watching PG rated TV programs was generally permitted, but AO programs and “M” rated movies were prohibited even during our teen years. On some Sunday evenings we would be instructed in a Bible study by Dad. This consisted of reading a passage and then asking us questions or listening to him talk about some theological aspect of the Christian faith. I had my own Bible to read and my parents provided a steady supply of Christian literature. I was brought up to believe in a literal six-day creation and a six-thousand year old earth (my Dad, however, was trained in geology at university so I think he has an interpretation of Genesis that allows for billions of years). I can remember the Creation: Ex Nihilo magazine (Ken Ham‘s Creationist propaganda) my parents got my subscription, which I read intently as a curious child does. One time my mum thought it would be instructive for her to give my Year 6 primary school teacher some copies, which my teacher politely accepted. Swearing was prohibited and Christian morality, especially regarding sex, was inculcated in all of us when we were teens. My Nana on my Dad’s side of the family is also extremely religious and so most of my extended family on his side are deeply Christian as well.

Did you go to a Christian Primary School or a State Primary School?

I attended state primary schools throughout my childhood, both in Australia and New Zealand. The most religious school that I went to was actually Wellington College. There we had assemblies where, usually, all the pupils and teachers recited The Lord’s Prayer and sung a hymn which often was one with a Christian theme.

Did you have non-Christian friends as a kid?

I had friends who were raised in Christian families and were part of the local church community (whether they genuinely considered themselves to be Christian or not I’m not sure. If a kid genuinely considers themselves to be a Christian before the age of ten, then that isn’t something that they deliberately determined for themselves but rather it’s an indication of indoctrination). I also had some friends I made through playing sports (cricket, soccer, touch rugby). I was also friends with the neighbours kids, although I can remember my parents slight disapproval of us hanging out. After moving to New Zealand when I was eight, most of my friends were made through sport. When I got to the age of about eleven, I remember being aware that I had my friends from school and sport and I had some church friends and that they were distinct non-overlapping groups.

How did you and your Christian friends view other non-Christian kids?

I would like to think that I was impartial in how I viewed other kids in regards to whether they were Christian or not. I definitely don’t remember being discriminatory just because a kid didn’t come from a Christian family. My whole upbringing, I remember my parents being a touch averse to me hanging out with “rougher” kids who might have picked up certain behaviours which my parents disapproved of, e.g. a propensity to swear or to act aggressively. I think this dim view that my parents held of these kids was passed somewhat on to me. Up until the age of eight or so, I think that if I did have a negative view of particular kids, it wasn’t because it was what I thought it but because it was what my parents thought. After this age I think I started to make judgements of the character of kids to discern whether or not they were someone that I should be friends with. By the time I was eleven, most, if not all of the friends who attended my birthdays were from non-Christian families.

As for how my Christian friends viewed non-Christian kids, I don’t recall any instances of there being any bullying or picking on someone or teasing because they were non-Christian. I vaguely remember having an awareness since I was young that being a Christian kid in a public school meant that you were in the minority and what one did when in this situation was not piss off anyone in the majority. I wouldn’t be surprised if my Christian peers at the time had a similar awareness.

In regards to how I was viewed by other kids: I was sometimes bullied at school for being boastful and my inclination is that my Christian upbringing instilled a certain self-importance in me and that this was exuded at school. This is probably what made me a target for teasing at a young age.

In your “Arise Church Notice” blog, you talked about being a former attendee.
How long were you a member and what made you decide to leave?

In 2004 when I was eighteen and at uni (in Christchurch) for the first time, my parents changed churches, from The Rock Church to ARISE Church (which was called City Church Wellington prior to 2008). Between 2004 and 2006 I attended ARISE Church only when I was visiting my parents while I lived in Christchurch. I moved home at the end of 2006 and in 2007 through to 2009, I attended ARISE Church on a semi-regular basis, although my interest was rather dwindling during this period and I would often excuse myself during a service pretending to need a comfort break and just leave entirely; or sometimes I would pretend to be asleep during the sermon. It was during this period that I read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins and this significantly shifted my position regarding religion. After reading it, my recollection is that I rejected Christianity but I still couldn’t shake the belief in some sort of divine designer due to finding certain aspects of nature to be rather persuasive arguments in favour of it’s existence, i.e. the apparent complexity of life, the improbability of the existence of Earth as a life-bearing planet, and the immensity of the universe being some. At this point I guess I subscribed to some sort of deistic world view in which life was intelligently designed and not evolved.

A few things during this period also happened in the church which started to turn me away from Christianity. I started to notice some of the rhetoric coming from the pulpit was rather disturbing in nature. I remember Gillian Cameron (pastor and wife of John Cameron) talking about buying a nice new flat screen TV and proclaiming that it’s OK to want nice things and also that it’s OK to pray to God and ask God for nice things because God actually wants to bless you and prosper you if you subordinate yourself sufficiently to his “will” (which is a convenient reason one can use to justify one’s materialistic disposition). And when God metaphorically “gives” one something, it’s also OK to revel in feelings of being blessed and favoured by God. I remember finding this unsettling as well as simultaneously being amazed that this kind of rhetoric received positive feedback from the congregation. This showed me that one can use Christianity to support ones own narcissism and desire for material gain as opposed to striving for modesty and humility akin to the example that Jesus set. One other incident was when I attended a boys night and we watched the Jason Stratham movie “Crank” which has quite a bit of violence, sexual references, and a ridiculous story line. This made me realise the moral hypocrisy that existed in other church members; that they only subscribed to Christian morality when it was convenient; that their piety exhibited during church services and other meet-ups was phony, and in some cases, deliberately put on so as to ideally position themselves within the existing social dynamics in their desire to appear favourable to certain members of the opposite sex.

I went back to live in Christchurch between 2010 to 2014 and so during this time my attendance at ARISE was just when I was visiting my parents and only as a courtesy to them.

Over the summer of 2014 to 2015, I did some serious investigation into evolution vs intelligent design and this period also exposed me to the devastating critiques of Christianity made by two other prominent atheists, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. I must also credit the website for helping me to completely shift my beliefs. I remember Google searching “ex Christians”, finding this website, and reading testimonial after testimonial of people who had had similar experiences to what I had, who had also had an internal struggle in their minds trying to make the Christian world view coherent and rational. These testimonials told of things like trying to resolve logical inconsistencies, grappling with moral and ethical dilemmas, struggling with having many unanswered questions, and being plagued by cognitive dissonance. Reading these testimonials triggered something in me where I realized that it was normal to be a non-believer and that many people had exactly the same issues with Christianity that I had. After this period I considered myself an atheist but I still hadn’t admitted this to my parents. That all changed when I reluctantly went to the Easter Sunday service at ARISE Church in 2015. I walked out after about ten minutes and later that night I told my parents exactly what I believed. I have never attended a service since (although I have been recording their online services so as to compile some of the disturbing rhetoric for my blog)

If your parents are still religious, have you been able to maintain a relationship with them?

My parent’s are still very much religious. After my admission to them of my true beliefs, my parents were supportive and they said that they would love me no matter what. This didn’t stop us having a few arguments though. Once, my dad objected to me reading atheist literature in his home and things got a bit heated for an hour or so. When I provided an unfavourable opinion to Stuff regarding the Reggie Dabbs tour in 2016, my parents weren’t too happy although they conceded that I have a right to my own opinions and my ability to express them. Today we remain on good terms and have a mutual respect for each others beliefs. However, I sometimes get emails from my Dad with links to Christian/intelligent design internet articles or videos, so I don’t think he will give up on me so easily.

How do you feel about Arise Church’s approach to recruitment of young people?

Young people are impressionable, emotionally vulnerable, have an innate desire for community and fellowship, and often have internal questioning about purpose and existence. ARISE exploits these traits of young people to rather lucrative effect. They deliberately target youth because they know that is the best opportunity they will have to reach people, when their minds are more open and aren’t sufficiently developed to guard against specious teachings. To this end much of their recruitment efforts are directed at high schools and universities, but they also target primary schools. ARISE Church makes no secret of their intentions to infiltrate educational establishments. In fact, John Cameron has explicitly stated his desire for ARISE Church to win entire high-schools and universities to Jesus Christ. Whatever that means in practice however is not stated.

ARISE Church have done their research and know how to get access to young people at all levels of education. In regards to primary schools, ARISE Church helps provide the “Champions” Christian Religious Education programme in partnership with the Churches Education Commission in schools throughout Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton. They also run “breakfast clubs” in some primary schools around Wellington. The motivation to provide food for hungry kids is a laudable one but they use this opportunity to evangelize to young children, tell them about the “love of God” and encourage them to attend church. This evangelism gets a free pass by school staff because it is smuggled in under the guise of charity. This kind of behaviour undermines the requirement of state primary schools to be secular but also demonstrates something more sinister, which is the lengths that ARISE Church will go to for evangelism; that they are willing to exploit the most vulnerable of society (hungry children) so as to inculcate them in to a belief in ARISE Church’s flavour of Christianity.

ARISE Church has a particular message which they have crafted to be appealing to young people. It could best be described as positive self-help through Jesus. They focus on positive thinking and deliberately emphasize certain ideas meant to take advantage of one’s own perceived flaws, deficiencies, and failures. Some of these ideas are:

  • All humans including oneself have been deliberately made by God. You are special and unique because God made you that way.
  • There exists a God-given purpose inherent within everyone which is discoverable through a relationship with Jesus.
  • God doesn’t see your flaws but sees your potential.
  • Faith in Jesus will prosper you in every facet of ones life. This includes health, finances, employment, marriage, relationships, and personal goals.
  • If one has faith in Jesus, then one will triumph over any adversity, which will provide a demonstration to others of the “truth” of Jesus and the benefits being a Christian.

ARISE Church endeavours to provide an upbeat, vibrant atmosphere in the public sphere and at it’s services. They want to be viewed as a place that is fun and exciting because this appeals more to young people. Everyone is happy and smiling; everyone is pleased to see you, and to an impartial observer this behaviour is uncanny as it feels like a superficial veneer put on for purely appearance purposes.

The ARISE church services follow a particular recipe that has been refined and employed to great effect by other churches (I’m talking about mega-Churches like Hillsong in Australia). Services are manufactured to give the illusion of a legitimate divine encounter. That’s the hook. What you are required to believe regarding the beliefs and doctrines of Christianity and various events in the Bible is only partially revealed this point. It’s all about a personal relationship with Jesus.

The service begins with a “praise and worship” session which is crafted to invoke feelings of euphoria and transcendence. The use of suggestion is employed here, with a pastor pronouncing during the music a phrase like “God’s presence is here in this room right now” or something similar. The praise and worship prepares the emotional ground and puts one in a receptive mood. Then there is the sermon where the congregation is given a rhetorical masterclass expounding the ideas and themes mentioned in the bullet points above. The use of seeking the affirmations of the congregation is liberally employed (e.g. the phrase “and if you believe it then give me an ‘amen'”). At the end of the service, the congregation is subjected to an emotional appeal to non-Christians to receive Christ as the greatest gift they will ever receive. The combination of the three sections of the service has a powerful and profound effect on some people, especially young people. They are helplessly tethered to their emotions and any cognitive barriers which are in place are effectively overcome. This leads to the forfeit of the intellect and the surrender of the self to allow Jesus into their heart. ARISE Church has explicitly stated that their primary motivator is persuading as many people as possible to come to faith in Jesus. (Other phrases that are used in place of “come to faith in Jesus” are “have a relationship with Jesus” or “follow Jesus”)

For new converts, ones perception of Christianity is based on the initial emotional experience. This experience is what gives the belief in Christianity validation and reinforces the truth of its claims. After that, ARISE progressively introduce you to the Bible. You are told about sin being the reason Jesus died so that he could redeem mankind; about heaven, hell, prayer, miracles, and God’s will. Gradually you are introduced to weirder parts like baptism, Adam and Eve, talking snakes, talking donkeys, angels, demons, and Noah Ark, just to name a few.

ARISE Church runs a youth service on a Friday night called “Elevate” and they have tailored it so that it is more appealing to young people. The music is more upbeat and the atmosphere is cultivated so that it feels like a “party”. The design and format of the service is similar to the one as described above including at the end, an appeal being made to a captive audience of young people to give their hearts to Jesus.

I think the methods that ARISE Church uses for outreaching to and engaging young people are clever, creative, but also sneaky, and at times dishonest and deceptive. They employ emotional manipulation as a way to accomplish the recruitment of new members. They deliberately exploit young peoples innocence and credulity, take advantage of their other cognitive traits already mentioned, with the goal to foist upon their impressionable minds a biblical worldview of sin and salvation by Jesus as well as give them a spiritual self-help toolkit that ultimately delivers false hope and false promises.

More Reading on Arise Church

Have you had experience of Arise Church? Has your school been targeted by them? Please comment below. Do you have a story to tell?  please get in touch



  1. Two very good points that Josh manages to touch on are: 1. The use of the congregation for affirmation is powerful. It is a technique exploited time and again by those who wish to convince masses of people that their ‘warcry’ is just – if everyone else is affirming it then it must be right. You only have to start with a small handful of followers and slowly ‘ingroup’ the outsiders, a few at a time to make this work. 2. Those who are now part of the ‘in group’ are not normally truly and deeply changed or committed individually. Their affirmation of the leaders warcry is often only when they participate in the group. Outside of this shared ‘truth’ they act out their own true core beliefs. Josh gave this as the example of him and friends watching the violent and slightly deranged movie Crank. In short: Groupthink.

    • I think you’re right. The need to belong to a group seems to override individual common sense sometimes. There’s a sort of a blind spot that develops with regard to the group beliefs that is ignored in day to day life.

  2. Lol, how dare that arise church or any church feed hungry kids in the name of Jesus, hypocrites, where does the bible say anything about helping people in need? They should get out of schools so the hungry kids can be fed by the atheist breakfast programmes, oh wait, there are none. I’m all for critique, but criticizing a church for doing actual practical charity work is a bit lame, particularly when they’re fulfilling a need that literally nobody else is.

    • Atheists aren’t as likely to gather for the purpose of spreading their views as religious people are. However, there are plenty of non-religious (secular) organisations who do good work. I’m sure that there’s an atheist or two in there somewhere. I don’t feel the need to hunt them down and identify them though. Ever heard of KidsCan?

    • The one and only time I went to ARISE was for a friend’s baptism and they spent the whole time talking about building a massive church worth millions of dollars, and then raising money to build more churches. All about the money, absolute cult

    • Whoever Cynic guy is, with all due respect, I disagree with the “hypocriptes” part. Yes that apparently it’s mostly chruches that hosts those programmes, but all that matters is doing the right thing. And whoever Timothy Stratton guy is, just try to understand more about the church before saying something. My point there is you can’t just accuse something or someone without taking the time to deeply understand then first. That’s all I have to say.

  3. Lol I’m sorry, but this whole article is ridiculous. I have been involved in Arise as a member for many years – and you can’t deny the miracles and wonders I have seen take place while at this church. Prophesies coming to life, and immediate physical healings that doctors can’t even explain. Literally bones moving and bodies reconstructing right before my eyes..

    God is real. Humanity is real. I understand that people get hurt and offended by the church as humanity is still at the forefront, working out how to do it when we are naturally inclined to sin – but amongst it all God wants to move and has already moved in wonders that one can’t deny. Church is built by people: Ps John and Gillian aren’t perfect, they are human too, but I have so much respect for them. You can’t say they’re all about materialistic gain when they literally sold everything they had and moved to Wellington with nothing to set up this Church. They are the most generous, kind and genuine people I know. Sorry if you have been hurt by our church, and I hope one day you will find the room to forgive any hurt you have towards us.

    • It doesn’t seem particularly “Christian” to call an article about Josh’s experiences in Arise Church “ridiculous”. I’ve asked him if he would like to respond.

      Despite your claims about “miracles and wonders”, there seems to be no independent verification of these. I wonder why?

    • Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks for your comments. I would like to address the points that you raise.

      I’ll be charitable and assume that you didn’t really intend to label my Christian upbringing and my personal struggles with faith as ridiculous, but were in fact reacting to my unfavourable critique of ARISE Church.

      You go on to describe that you have been a member of ARISE for a number of years and that while there you have seen “miracles and wonders take place”. I don’t deny that you have had experiences that you interpret to be both miraculous and an attestation to the existence (“God is real”) and divine power (“moved in wonders”) of the Christian god. But could there be an alternative explanation for what you experienced?

      Here is how I think about claims of miracles. I am hesitant to accept the veracity of your claims of miracles for the same reasons that you presumably are hesitant to accept the veracity of the claims of miracles of other religions.

      Miracle claims are a commonality across many religions. Do you also accept the testimonies of people in other religions who claim to have experienced or directly witnessed miracles similar to the ones you described? Do their claims of miracles also attest to the existence and divine power of their god/s? Can someone’s subjective experience determine or ascertain the objective nature of the supernatural realm (or lack of it)?

      And in anticipation of the inevitable objection, being that a priori the god of scripture is the one true god and Christianity is the one true religion and that all other religions are false teachings, I say: well isn’t it convenient that you were born into the right culture that just happened to have the right religion. Christianity is a system which arbitrates the eternal destinies of people based on what they believe. Yet people’s beliefs are suspiciously contingent upon geographical circumstances. If you were born into a non-Christian culture saturated with it’s own religion, how would you figure out that it was all wrong? Is a system that punishes people for the bad luck of being born in the wrong place a just system?

      I’m puzzled as to how you can think that god can “want to move”. To “want” means to desire a certain outcome. God is omniscient, meaning that god knows everything. God knows all past and future events. God knows his own thinking on all matters that have occurred in the past and will occur in the future. This includes knowing how he intends to intervene in human affairs. Saying that god “wants to move” implies that he’s waiting for something to happen first. But as has already been established, god knows everything, so he already knows what decision he has made and how he intends to intervene.

      So god can’t “want to move” because he’s already decided. God is helplessly tethered to his own perfect knowledge of everything. You can’t change god’s mind, god’s mind is already made up. Whatever happens must occur because god intended it to happen. God doesn’t want, god intends.

      Regarding material gain of the lead pastors of Arise. I have no problem with people who are wealthy. What I do have a problem with is how people obtain their wealth and what claim they make on their wealth.

      If your wealth is made by telling people to give up their intellect, to subordinate their will to the will of god, to surrender to god their own dreams and ambitions, to give god complete control over everything in their life, and to live out a financial commitment to your church as an act of obedience to god, then this is wealth obtained by means of psychological manipulation. And then to pretend that the church finances are evidence of “a move of god” and also that your personal take-home slice of the pie is due to the blessing and favour of god. Hang on, the money just didn’t appear out of no-where, it was wholly acquired by the real and personal sacrifices of the congregation. At no stage in the whole process could you point and say, “Aha, this where god worked his magic”. But of course the rationalization is that congregants are “lead by god to give”. But is it really being “lead by god to give” or is it pure persuasion by animated and charismatic leaders who have a knack of appealing to people’s sense of self and sense of personal identity and manipulating these for their own ends.

      God is omniscient. Everything that happens was intended by god. So god intended for the Cameron’s to profit from their racket no more than he intended for millions of children to suffer and die in agony every year, and then to suffer for eternity because, by no fault of their own, they were born into the wrong part of the world and didn’t know Jesus.

      It’s truly wonderful to know that there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest that any of the supernatural claims of Christianity are actually true.

  4. I am horrified by this young man becoming an athiest after being raised in a Christian home and blaming the Church for his views! He is one voice among many voices of that particular Church. What do others think? I personally was an atheist myself until I was almost 30 years old. I understand that this young man has missed the whole point of, yes, having a personal relationship with Jesus. He loves ALL people and he loves Josh. The Bible also talks about Jesus loving the Church. Teenage years are known for rebellion and this interview speaks to me of a young man seeking his own identity. Normal I would think. There will be many praying for this young man and his belief system. I am who I am, as a Christian, because believers prayed for me. A Christian for 26 years, my life has been anything but perfect! Galatians 5: Fruits of the Spirit and Romans 8:28 come to mind. I’m writing a book about how God heals. If I hadn’t lived what I have, I couldn’t Minister as I do. To those who have lost loved ones, the grieving. Love and compassion, Grace are qualities that come from trials overcome. God Bless all who read this. He is Real, salvation is possible for ALL sinners, and we are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God BUT John 3:16 speaks of Jesus dying and that ‘whosoever’ believes in Him- Jesus, God shall not perish, but have eternal life. My loss of a loved one motivates me to Joy in the reunion that Heaven offers. We don’t know Josh’s struggles as he enters adult life. This interview reeks of ‘ let’s bash ‘ a successful Church and use a rebellious teenager/ young adult to do it. When living in York in England in the 1980’s, a Church Minister/ Priest (perhaps a Methodist?) went public with his belief that God didn’t exist. Or was it The Holy Spirit? I forget, it’s been many years. What I don’t forget is that within a month of this Priest’s television/newspaper appearence, a real lightening bolt hit and burnt down that Church! I was an atheist at the time. Even I thought that God had replied. The world is full of believers and unbelievers. Rowan Atkinson said it well in a scit he did once. He was dressed in religious garments and sending New arrivals to different areas ( to be processed). He eyeballs the atheists and told them they must be feeling very silly about now! (ish). Something to think about. God Bless all who read this comment. Hope to see you in heaven. Robyn Bateman of Christchurch, New Zealand

    • Hi Robyn,

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t think it is fair to dismiss Josh’s views simply because he is younger than you. There are young fools and old fools and age doesn’t always correspond to wisdom. Josh is also now in his late 20’s so has had plenty of time to refine his views.

      If you’re writing a book about how god heals, presumably, you have already proven the existence of god? Something no one has ever been able to do! I await your proofs with great anticipation!

      When the lightning hit York Minster in 1984, it didn’t burn it down, it burnt some of the roof. It happened a few days after the Bishop of Durham questioned the literal truth of the virgin birth and other aspects of the bible. You’d have to be incredibly superstitious or gullible to believe that the two were connected. Apparently, god can aim a lightning bolt with great precision to burn a church roof but in the same year was unable to prevent the assassination of Indira Ghandi, the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, the horrific famines in Africa and a serial killer of beauty queens in the USA. Don’t tell me… god works in mysterious ways! If you were actually an atheist, you obviously wouldn’t have thought god had replied. You would have thought it was a funny coincidence.

      The Rowan Atkinson sketch is funny. Here’s a quote from him…
      “What is wrong with inciting intense dislike of a religion if the activities or teachings of that religion are so outrageous, irrational or abusive of human rights that they deserve to be intensely disliked?”
      (Rowan Atkinson speaking against blasphemy laws)

  5. Hi Dave. In response to your comment on my previous post. Rather than criticizing Josh for being young, I was concerned about the ethics of the interview itself. Young people are known to take time to transition from youth to adulthood. Finding our own belief system after being raised a certain way is a rite of passage I would think. Teens are not robots and should be encouraged to form their own view of the world. Asking me to prove the existence of God. Huge ask! Personal experience is, in my view, the only true test of whether God exists. God introduces Himself through the Bible, people who have a personal relationship with Him and by His Holy Spirit. I’m sure there are more ways. I became a born again Christian 26 years ago. Thanks for clarifying that it was York Minster Church that was struck by lightening 30 years ago, when I lived in York England. As a newly Wed Kiwi atheist, I didn’t pay much attention to that event as it was Church related and didn’t affect me as a (back then) non-believer. I see now that the fire damage to York Minster cost £ 2.55 million British pounds to repair- 30 years ago. Back then, that was around $6 -7 million NZ dollars. I have no idea how much that would be in today’s money. Yes, it was roof damage. It was reported back then that churchgoers feared the fire was a sign from God in response to the consecration at York Minster Church 3 days earlier of the Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins. He did not believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, or the virgin birth and had the nickname of the unbelieving Bishop. This man was 1 voice within the wider Church. His views did not catch on. 1st Corinthians 2:14 New Testament for Everyone Bible translation says: Someone living at the merely human level doesn’t accept the things of God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to such people, you see, and they can’t understand them because they need to be discerned Spiritually. When you compared acts of evil to a weather phenomenon, I was perplexed. When people perpetuate evil, they either choose to or have mental health issues. Often God gets blamed when people do things wrong. I wish we lived in a perfect world, but we don’t. Finding a Faith in God has not made my life perfect. It enables me to deal with bad experiences. Those at Arise Church who have faith should not be ridiculed by unbelieving people who don’t understand the things of God. Millions of people the world over have faith in God. Not all believe the same things. It’s up to God to explain himself to those who enquire of Him.

    • Hi Robyn. Like I said, Josh is in his late 20’s.

      “Feelings” are not reliable evidence. There’s a long and tragic history of religious cults who achieved what they did because… feelings.

      As I understand it, everything that happens is part of god’s plan. So there is no such thing as a “weather phenomenon” that isn’t part of his plan. That goes for human actions as well. After all… according to the bible, god did create evil.

      If you’re claiming that millions of people believing in god gives them something they lack, that may be true but truth is not a popularity contest.

  6. Arise church teach false doctrine and deceive hundreds of people. It is a very dangerous place, they also manipulate people into giving money to follow the vision and not the Word of God. If you attend it’s time to run.

    • Si Ed, sorry ,son but you are talking a lot of shite, and clearly have “issues” ! i suggest you read the bible and have an open mind and an open heart to receive Jesus as your Lord, and saviour and redeemer !

  7. I attended ARISE for the first time recently, and I loved it, it was quite different to what I have experienced in Church prior, but only in specifics – volume, preaching “style” (I’m talking more of cadence, and outward enthusiasm) but in essence it was Church. There were many people there, some of which were Christian, others who probably weren’t and that’s ok. My wife and I learned a lot, and were really happy to know our friends x who had moved on from going to church with us – were in a place where people valued the bible, and each other.

    It seems like this entire article is aimed at destroying belief rather than educating. It speaks on one individual’s experience, his “feelings” about the motives and methods, and why he is no longer a believer, which Dave appears to be right on board with, and yet when other people mention feelings, they are deemed as insufficient evidence, and unreliable in making a determination like the existence of God. That’s just an observation, or perhaps it’s my feelings and they’re unreliable in determining that. With regard to “proving the existence of God” it appears as if there is always the burden of proof on the believer, I’d be interested in seeing someone disprove His existence – I know, it’s cliche, and an atheist would see that as a weak attempt to hold on to something, but when all the believers evidence is aggressively explained away with words like “feelings” or when a healing takes place and the response is “the doctors must have messed up in the first place” what is left? Ultimately, I’m certain we would end up right back at a “he says, she says” point, and ultimately it will come down to faith, faith in God, or faith in self. That is the way it has always been, and will always be.

    Anyway, I find it disappointing that one bad experience (as a whole, even in lots of little things) with a Church – a group of people who can be flawed in behaviour despite belief – would be enough to sway someone toward abandonment of faith. That bad experience led to a wealth of investment in trying to disprove the existence of God for himself, and to then go public and demonise a church and its leaders is unfortunate and sad (I’m not calling the author sad, but the situation). I really hope that readers don’t get this article and make major decisions based on it, and I also hope that the author can at least reconcile with the church in the sense that he doesn’t continue to harbour this sentiment despite a different faith view.

    • Hi Micah,

      If you re-read the interview with Josh, you’ll see that he had carefully researched reasons for turning away from religion. I don’t think that anyone can seriously claim that feelings are a good pathway to finding the truth of anything, let alone the existence of a creator.

      The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. It is not for someone who finds no reason to believe in something to prove otherwise. For example, I could tell you that I can fly and you should just have faith in that. I’m not going to prove it to you. So is it true unless you can prove me wrong? Of course not.

      Regarding “healing”, the power of the placebo effect is certainly strong. Give me proof of someone regrowing an amputated limb and then we can talk about healing. Or is faith healing limited to effects that can’t be proven?

      I’d question how much effort you’ve put into researching reasons for the existence of any gods. If all you read are sources that promote faith, you’re not going to be able to make an informed decision. The investment is not in “disproving god” because gods have never been proven to exist. The investment is in finding out if there are actually any good reasons to believe gods exist. Like Josh, I have looked and found none. If you’ve never really asked the hard questions, you are right in saying that all you have is faith, not knowledge.

      • These so called churches are a dangerous abomination to God Josh. I made a decision to follow Jesus Christ 26 yrs ago when I was 15 yrs old. I’m a way stronger Christian in my faith today. I’ve seen it all mate, from the crazy roll around on the floor charismaniacs , to the crooked money hungry false teachers like Benny Hinn, and the modern ones like Rich Warren and Hillsong. The early Christians were humble authentic generous hard working people that were respected because of the persecution that was dealt out to them.
        My wife and I attended a great little church in Qld several yrs ago, where the Paster had come out of a Church similar to Arise. This guy had the courage to leave that church and expose it for what is was. We were taught how to actually study our Bible, and what we realised was that what these apostate churches were teaching was basically just narcissistic New Age philosophy. The people that run these Churches are false teachers who are there to make merchandise out of you like the Apostle Paul warned. Tithing for example is pushed in these false churches but in actual fact it was a Jewish law only for the Jews, and it was not money, but produce and livestock that was to be given to the Levites as that particular tribe was not given land as they were the Priests etc. But they won’t tell you that though.
        Most of these so called Christians in these Churches , are so Biblically illiterate it’s not funny.
        If you want to know God’s will for your life, open the Bible and start reading.
        These Churches like Arise will lead you on claiming they have a direct line to God, and they know how to manipulate you for their own agenda.Basically these pseudo churches are nothing more than businesses with a thin veneer of Christianity. My Wife and I stay away from these churches , but we have small home church and meet with other down to earth genuine people who take their faith seriously. Josh, I would challenge and encourage you to study your Bible, and look up rightly dividing , dispensation on the net and what it means.
        Jesus never promised those that put their faith in Him material prosperity, health and a “Your best life now” Jesus said, “ you will have many tribulations, but have heart, I have overcome the world”. The fact is that we are all sinners, God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross and pay the price of sin in our place. There will be a Judgement Day Josh, but if we accept Jesus Christ as Lord of our life and Saviour , and turn and repent from our sins, we will not face Gods Judgement.
        Jesus is our robe of righteousness, It’s the righteousness of Christ that God sees.

        There is a great websit called fighting for the faith, it will give you a lot of perspective.



  8. I had attended arise for 6 and a half years and was a devoted member. I had served in their church, given to the building of the new church as mentioned in joshs article as i wanted to raise my family there. But I recently had something terrible happen in my life which involved a criminal investigation. This church who preach love obviously helped me and supported me right? Nope they couldn’t be seen supporting me, it might’ve tainted their precious name! Completely shunned.

  9. Praying for what ever happened to you and your faith, the enemy is real he comes to kill steal and destroy you, look to Jesus He has come to give you life everlasting, seek Him through His Word and be blessed 2019 will be a great year for you 🙂

    • Hi Andy,

      Dismissing Josh’s rational explanation of why he left Arise church with your own baseless assumptions that something must have “happened to him” only makes you look inconsiderate and disrespectful.

      Rather than worrying about Josh, how about you ask yourself how respectful it is for Arise church to evangelize in secular state primary schools such as Khandallah School under the guise of a Bible class. Two of their church members are on the board of trustees and abusing their positions in order to promote their own religious beliefs to children.

  10. Hi, I am also an ex-member of Arise, but one that still respects Arise and their message. This means this comment is unlikely to be their complete official stance on the subject.

    You are using a young person (young people have more influence with young people) to discredit a popular church among young people for targeting young people, on a high broadcast medium that speaks more loudly to young people (the internet). you have proven the belief that a ideological battleground exists for the heart, minds and souls of young people. The only way some of this interview could be more ironic is if you accused Arise of hypocrisy.

    I think both Dave and Josh are selling Arise short by claiming that it is a message of positivism. Behind that positivism or hype is the backing that if we are to take the gospels seriously there is a hope based on evidence. Even if you could somehow prove 90% of the bible to be incorrect you still would have not addressed the crux (pun intended) that holds Christianity together. There is written evidence from 4 researchers, that have been closer to what actually happened than ourselves, that a man rose from the death. Although to the best of our knowledge he did not expressly claim to be God (Heaven help him if he did) the subtext of the things he is claimed to have done and said would imply this. If by some miracle you can actually prove (rather than just suggest it is unlikely) that Jesus is not who he is suspected to be and did not rise from dead then you still must contend these words from C S Lewis (an ex-atheist). “Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all of those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones… We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia… and that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull as you say.”

    • Hi Puddleglum 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

      Firstly, I’m not “using a young person”. Josh is an adult with his own opinions who is vocal in his opposition to Arise. The reason for the interview is that Arise are actively trying to access primary schools (such as Khandallah School, which has also been written about on this website) in order to evangelise to children. There is no agenda to replace this with any other ideology, so I fail to see what is hypocritical about that?

      As for your claims of the divine, I think that you need to learn about logical fallacies. One is the “burden of proof”. It is not up to anyone else to prove your claims are false, it is up to you to prove that they are true. CS Lewis was a great fantasy writer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t so good at coming up with logical arguments. A good story is a wonderful thing but it is not evidence of reality.

      • You have evidence from the 4 gospels mentioned above. what is your reason for dismissing them as evidence? What do you think motivated not 1 but four different people to tell the same outline however outlandish? Surely as there were 4 of them there would have been 4 different motivations but it is still one basic outline. For any topic religious or otherwise it is really easy to put aside evidence without due consideration with a dismissive “not enough proof”.

        Have you got enough balls to instead of picking your battles against religion in general (with issues with the creation story) and instead address the elephant that is not in the tomb?

        • They are 2nd hand stories written down by unknown authors 25+ years after they were supposed to have happened. There are lots of stories about “miracles” attributed to all sorts of gods. Why believe these ones? Who are the 4 people you’re referring to?

          No idea what you mean by your last sentence???

      • Probably a bad move, girls don’t go for that sort of thing
        /me Waits till it dawns on Dave why he isn’t kissed that often

  11. Matthew – possibly also called Levi and a disciple of Jesus (which would make it first hand)
    Mark – Unknown
    Luke – A physician who did research on veracity of the teachings of Paul for a criminal case. He at least knew of Peter (another disciple) and probably met with him (given that they had no telecommunication)
    John – possibly the disciple John as he keeps referring to “the disciple that Jesus loved” as opposed to “John” by name (which would make it first hand)

    With Matthew, Mark and Luke the story is consistent enough to make out that there was a genuine story they were reporting or taken from the same source (Q Document). What matters is that all three of them considered the story to be genuine in a society that would have more honour to the truth of the matter than our “Just post fake news on the internet” society of today.

    Understand that these gospels were probably written during a time of duress for Christianity. Many were jailed or executed for having a christian faith even without trial. This means it was more than these 4 who believed that the story was the correct one for it to survive until today.

    In addition to these 4 we also have Paul who claims that at least 500 people saw Jesus after his death.

    Given that this story has survived this long in initially what was a hostile environment I think that you would have more luck in convincing people that the moon landings were faked rather than a mere 4-5 people getting together to collaborate on a hoax on everybody while their lives were on the line.

    What I meant by the last sentence is that you seem quite content in sowing doubt around things that are not necessary to believe to have a trust in God when are you going to get around to addressing the central idea of Christianity, that there exists evidence that Jesus amongst other things rose from the dead?

    • M-kay. Those are the titles of the gospels, not the authors. See:

      Some logical stuff…

      – I had an uncle who claimed he saw a UFO. That doesn’t mean UFO’s exist either.
      – Claiming lots of people saw something doesn’t make it true. (Just yesterday I saw 500 people see pixies in my back yard)
      – A lot of people believing something doesn’t make it true. (See Justin Bieber fan club)
      – An idea being around a long time doesn’t make it true. (Insert all other religions here)
      – People putting their lives on the line doesn’t make it true. (Look up the Jim Jones cult)

      I’m sowing reason.

      What evidence?

      • If you are claiming there is no such thing as a bible, a compendium of 66 books (or more if you include books that were omitted) written by over 34 authors but all with a similar theme running though it then either my own eyes deceive me or you have no inclination in teaching young children the truth. You are not sowing truth let alone reason.

        If you are claiming that you doubt the veracity of the evidence then why? and why claim that there is no evidence to doubt the veracity of?

        • Just read back over my comments. I can’t see where I said there is no such thing as a bible.

          If you are claiming that the bible is evidence for your god, does that mean that other holy books such as the Veda (A Hindu holy book) is evidence for their gods? What you’re really saying is that the bible is a claim for the existence of your god. The “evidence” within the bible seems to consist of stories that have no contemporary, non-biblical confirmation.

          • I cant say as I have not read the Veda, However if it refers to multiple gods unless they are always in agreement, only one at most can be omnipotent or there is an “irresistible force, immovable object” problem that needs to be addressed. If none of them are omnipotent I am not sure if we could guarantee their dietyship.

            What reason do you have for splitting history into what is biblical and contemporary given that there are multiple views expressed in the bible? When the separate was collected together I would imagine that they attempted to find as much information as possible about the event leaving very little in the way of “contemporary” information. This means if you discard the bible you are also discarding contemporary history. I don’t think it would be fair to ask you to discard all mathematics text books and then prove that Archimedes was a mathematician. As he existed well before Jesus I would be even more warranted however in my doubts


            Even so according to the above there is at least some external discussion about the information contained in the gospels.

            Please note as we were not there we can only address what probably happened not what could have conceivably might not have happened. Paul said that over 500 people saw Jesus after he rose, I am not disputing that it is conceivably have been lying or incorrect but I am asking what probably happened. I’m not disputing that in some universe it might be possible for the bible to exist in and be entirely incorrect in spite of the social climate but I am asking what probably happened. Given that what Paul said is not the only i’m I’m relying on but part of a greater whole I think we need to give it more credence. Given that we have not 1 but four documents about the same event I think we need to give each one more credence.

            I have provided some reasons why I think my views are the correct one and you have provided none for yours. You still cling to edge cases of what conceivably might not be. Are your doubts reasonable or are they trivial edge cases? Are you able to make a case for what you think probably happened to produce this so called “false evidence” from multiple sources and why?

            • I’m not seriously proposing Hindu gods are real. The point was that something being in a book doesn’t make it true. Something being consistent doesn’t make it true either by the way.

              There are multiple accounts in the bible (some written by the same person by the way). What is missing is contemporary evidence from people who do not have an interest in promoting these religious beliefs. No independent “Gosh look at all these zombies who rose from the dead”. No contemporary Roman accounts of miracles. Nothing.

              We can only address what “probably happened” based on evidence and our knowledge of how the world works. Nothing we “know” (that word is important) about how the world works supports claims of resurrection.

              You need to go do some more research from unbiased sources about the gospels. They’re not four unique documents. Your belief is based on claims in a book from a time when they didn’t know where the sun went at night. Why are you so easily able to dismiss the thousands of other gods that you don’t believe in? Chances are that you’re Christian because you were born into a Christian family in a predominantly Christian country. Same for Muslims, Same for Hindus etc.

              The bible is a historical document. But it is poor evidence for any gods.

              • While it is true that something being consistent does not make it true or the lack of consistency make it false however it does indicate that it more likely to be true
                We are still dealing with probabilities here not black and white we “know” that something did not happen.
                I am not sure that “know” is a concept that matches reality there is always the step of this is how I “believe” the world works.
                What if how you “believe” the world works is not correct, what does this do to the word “know”?
                People have been wrong before about what they “know”, how likely is it that we still don’t “know” exactly?

                It would take to long to explain the reasons why I believe there is a God but it boils down to the question “What is the source of life, thought and awareness? Surely it must be something that is living, thinking and aware”. As explained before I would still have logical issues with polytheism.

                I am a Christian because I believe in the documented resurrection of Christ. This is evidence that God exists and is benevolent, something that Muslims/Jewish do not have. In these religions they have to work out their relationship with God without this evidence of his goodness (I don’t envy their position).Christianity contains a God that is willing to risk himself for his creation. Anything short of this would probably be a God not be worth following.

                Poor evidence? I suppose at least that is a step up from “no evidence”

                • For something to be true, it would necessarily need to be “internally consistent”. The bible is not even remotely close to that it is riddled with inconsistencies. All you need to do is to Google “Biblical Inconsistencies” and you’ll find a ton of them.

                  You’re sliding into “how do we know anything is real” territory. It’s just about shared reality based on what we can show to be true.

                  When it comes down to “where did all the stuff come from?”, surely the answer is “I don’t know” and not any other answer you do not know to be true.

                  The whole “god is good” thing I find a bit rich. Have you read the old testament? I think Christians have a pretty warped idea of what “good” or “benevolent” means. Have a peek at this short video:

                  Yes but your poor evidence is on the same level as the poor evidence for every other god.

        • I enjoy Star Wars. It has around 380 books (more than the bible) and far more authors, especially if you count the movies, cartoons and other merchandise. Jar-Jar Binks was definitely a mistake though. We should stone that author to death.

          Yes, I’m being flippant to illustrate a logical point. The number of people who believe or write about something is not evidence it is true.

          • I would hope that Star Wars was known to be fiction even from the outset. It would be rare for anyone to claim otherwise, The bible at it’s inception was more likely to be regarded to be fact or it would not of survived the first queries about if this did really happen. As it contains items that would be likely to challenge some and offend others it is unlikely that it was a “love your enemy…great story… I can get on board with that” type of thing

  12. Hmmm, I am pretty sure I did not claim that the entirety of the bible was free from error or that translation x was written directly by God. Some stereotypical “fundamentalist” might but I think you will find that that type of Christain is in reality rare. In fact there are sections of the bible that I have doubts about but those are informed doubts and I don’t think they change the message that runs though the bible. An example is I have doubts that Job actually existed for the following reasons

    * It would be hard to imagine that the author of Job has access to the goings on in heaven to be informed of the conversation between Satan and God
    * The style of the discussion with his friends reads more like a philosophical debate (maybe more popular in Greek culture)
    * Elsewhere in the bible (Psalms) it claims that mans average lifespan is 70 years (or 80 if he has strength) and still elsewhere it claims that mans life was limited to around 120 years (Genesis). When Jobs life was restored to him afterwards he received twice what he had before. He lived exactly 140 years, As 140 = 70 + 70 it is kind of poetic but raises questions.
    * I am not the only one who has questions about Job. When the bible was being assembled from separate books, the book of Job was placed beside a book that contained Songs (Psalms) in what is thought to be a poetic section of the bible.

    Although I could rationalise these doubts into a narrative that all fits such as claiming that God informed the author of the book about the conversation but I dont think it is necessary to do so. As a philosophical debate on the nature of God and suffering the book of Job stands on it’s own even if the events or something similar to the events did not occur.

    I have an issue about how you read books, it may just be an issue with how you read books that are deemed religious in nature because you treat them like a Grammar Nazi who has just discovered “The Jabawocky”. If you were to treat “Cinderella” in the same way you would be advocating removing the fiction section from the library rather than removing RI from schools. I would show greater respect to the textual criticism to those who have understood the underlying message the author is trying to convey. If you read books, any books, you will get more out of them if you ask yourself “What message is the author trying to convey, and what can I learn from this?”. I’d be surprised if you can find a document that does not contain the values of the author.

    You seem fixated on claiming the bible is one book even though I have been focusing on 4 separate books describing the same events. If I can borrow your Star Wars analogy that is 4 different movies (with slight variations) of “Episode 1” in all its Jar Jar Binks and Midi-chlorian glory. OK, still not a great analogy but the point is if the content was not religious in nature I think that you would give 4 similar books by different authors more credence than a single book by a single author (or indeed a set of books about different contentious topics). The reason I have for claiming that they are separate books is that they have different writing styles, a small amount of different content and yes, sometimes they even disagree (or at least come close). The reason I am focusing on these books in the bible is they agree about the essentials to the “Christain” message. The other books in the bible may contain corroborating information (and are of value) but it is technically possible to discard these and still not have put a dent in what holds Christianity together. The other books of the bible are still be counted as contemporary and background information to the 4 gospels which is what I think inspired Paul to write that “All scripture is God inspired…”. Note that at the time he wrote this the 4 gospels we are talking about may not counted as “scripture”.

    If you still claim that this is “poor evidence” then I am afraid that is the limit of evidence you will ever get. By this I mean that if last night an angel stood beside your bed and proclaimed “Why do you still not believe?” by this morning you would have rationalised it as a dream or someone sticking a hallucinogen in your coffee.

    As someone who was taken out of RI when I was at school I would advise that the best way to deal with the issues you have with it is to teach your child how to make their own judgement calls. I am not sure what your issue with RI is. If the bible is as half riddled with problematic inconsistencies to the point where it obscures the message of hope contained as you suggest surely at some stage your child will see through it. If however the underlying message of hope encourages your child that there is nothing left fear, that they can be bold and work out their belief for themselves how does this take anything from you? Unless of course you want to maintain control over your childs beliefs…

    • No, the point is that the bible is inconsistent and for it to be the divine word of a god, we would expect it to be 100% consistent despite different languages or translations. I guess god has his limits or just doesn’t care if his commands get messed up. On the other hand, if we don’t believe that it is the word of a god, or not all the word of a god, then all we can do is take our best guess. In other words, we’re making a personal value judgement. Well… we don’t need any god to do that. We’ve been managing our own morality forever. It’s just that some people claim authority from this inconsistent book.

      This issue is not about “banning the bible”. It is about banning evangelists from schools. Regardless of the church, religious instruction classes are evangelism. I don’t care if the bible is in the library. I would be happy for religious history to be taught and for lessons about world religions to be taught in an academic form.

      I don’t think it matters that there are separate books or that they agree. If you read about them from an unbiased source you’ll find that some were copying off others. This doesn’t really matter either. Like I said, it’s the lack of contemporary, unbiased accounts that is telling. The claims in the bible aren’t new either. They were made for other gods before Jesus. The virgin birth, miracles, resurrection etc. All been done before.

      The angel at the foot of the bed claim is also nothing new. You don’t think this sort of thing is claimed by followers of other religions?

      I already do teach my children to make their own judgements. I encourage them to do their own research and not just believe what anyone tells them (me included). But I would no more leave my kids with a “bible teacher” every week than I would allow a McDonald’s staff member come in and teach a weekly values lesson based on McDonald’s marketing material. This seems a staggeringly obvious principle to me and I’m always shocked that pro-RI people can’t see it.

      This principle has nothing to do with the “message of hope”. Aside from the principle of not targeting children for your religious group (FFS how obvious is that?) either what Christians say is true or it is not. The message is irrelevant if you can’t prove it. All you have left is a fantasy. Sorry, I’d rather stick with reality.

  13. I think that as a parent you worry too much about things.

    Have you considered the option of home schooling? If it is good enough for an evangelical who does not want their children to be challenged by concepts of evolution surely it is good enough for parents who do not want their children to be challenged by religion.

    Eventually however you know that at some point or another your child will be exposed to ideas that you personally disagree with.

    You also have not identified the evidence you have seen with your own eyes that it is possible to make ones own choice about beliefs in spite of being in an environment that has different beliefs even if they have been exposed to that environment from a young age.

    Yes, I’m am talking about Josh who was part of the Arise church environment you seem so concerned about.
    I am sure that Josh will agree with me in that he feels that his upbringing and being part of Arise has helped shape and enhance some of his current contrary opinions.

    Unless a lot has changed since I was last at Arise they do not attempt to pressure people into anything they do not indicate they want to do.
    This includes joining their particular denomination, the advice they usually give to anyone who is interested in Christianity is to “join a church, hang out with Christian peers and read a bible”.
    If this attitude ever changes and people no matter young feel they have been coerced, be prepared for a backfire that will make Josh look like a saint.
    Given that the above situation has probably crossed the mind of the leadership of Arise they have an invested interest in making sure that any RI teacher they endorse respects children and boundaries of what they can or cant teach.

    This fine line of expressing their personal beliefs while respecting others beliefs is not new and there would be more than a few RI teachers who has been exposed to “My daddy say the bible is BS”. Often the reply goes something along the lines of “Hmm, That’s nice dear”, because what more can be said?

    If you are still worried I have a solution, but you are not going to like it
    It involves be able to trust that the “right thing” will eventually happen

    • You think I should home-school to avoid religious evangelism in my kids non-religious state school? Is that logical to you? Sadly for the evangelicals, evolution is a fact.

      I’ve already discussed different religions with my kids. This is not something teaching faith in one religion does. The irony of your remarks is glaring considering that the whole point of religious instruction is to teach one faith as fact, without any critique or study of other religions. The problem is not that they will be exposed to different ideas at some point. The problem is that they are being targeted by people who are trying to indoctrinate them in their ideas before they have the knowledge and ability to defend themselves. Why do you think it is that there are few bible classes in state high schools? Young children are more easy to convince. That’s why they target primary schools.

      Arise is a business that seems to be quite profitable. Try asking to see the books.

      The best way for Christians to respect opposing beliefs would be to bugger off out of our schools. That way, they won’t have to hear any criticism.

      The “right thing” is happening already. Religious privilege is being removed. Bible in schools is in rapid decline. People are less and less scared to criticise old ideas. You’re on the wrong side of history.

  14. Dave, Dave, Dave.
    Please stop trying to prove christianity wrong I will not agree but respect your beliefs if you respect mine I personally have had miracles happen at arise and the Lord has spoken to me and that is the one thing you can’t deny is a experience so stop criticising us plz Dave ps. Hope you have a good life Dave and come back to Jesus 😉

    • I actually don’t respect the fundamentals of Christianity. I think vicarious redemption via human sacrifice and inherited sin are immoral concepts. However, I do respect your right to your own beliefs.

      While I agree that you can’t deny someone experiencing something, your assumption that it was “the lord” speaking to you isn’t something that is undeniable.

  15. I’m flawed my the negative response to this post, but I suppose it hits a nerve with some people, who hold this particular church and/or their own Christian faith dearly. As an ex-Christian myself, and someone who has attended a few Arise services in the past, I wholeheartedly admire Josh’s transparency and articulation in addressing this topic and sharing his personal experience. I was trying to find his blog, as it is linked in this article a few times, but it looks like it might have been taken offline? It seems to redirect to his YouTube channel instead. Anyway, thanks for sharing! Loving your content x

  16. As someone who grew up in religious household, an immigrant and also was very young when initially attended Arise (15years old to 19years old from 2008 to 2013..)

    I dated one of the members who was part of the “inner circle elite family” and because we later on become sexually active (my first time with them)… I was shunned. I was young and naïve. We were made to break up. They were (I felt) more protected than what I was. I tried to reach out to the youth pastors/leaders but it was dismissed or ignored or I was told to just pray and do “Gods Work”…. So yeah… After that I left and went into a deep depression and I ultimately lost my faith during this time as well. Josh is true in saying that the group hang outs did not make sense. I remember going to bbqs and it was very church innocent. Then it would be a bbq and making out sessions and beers and then its like oh nothing happened? It did not make sense at all. Esp when you are young and trying to figure out who your real friends are and who is dating who and also very clicky.

    I was part of Elevate and HUGE and when I attended the HUGE camp, it was segregated a lot. We laughed (the elite family member who I was dating) about the boys and girls teaching sessions and then the group sessions and how the sex education, topics and just yeah… it was run by people who were similar ages or just older than us that most are now youth pastors or pastors themselves. They were not educated themselves nor trained to actually run education group sessions either.

    I am now near my 30s and reading this has made me just roll around laughing because YAY! Someone finally said it.

    I was not comfortable and asking questions was a ‘no no’… Many of the international speakers that came, Esp the speakers Ps Rich Wilkinsons Jr… It was extremely uncomfortable because majority of his sermon was how grateful he was to be married and have sex with his wife and how they had such passionate god loving sex and went on and on about and the a lot of the preachers and pastors (esp male) would start standing up and shouting YES! and …. no disclaimer no consideration that its… good for you that you are married and think she is hot and objectifying her and then praising her and …. yay… good for you… :/

    That sermon?preach?teaching? whatever the Pastor intended, was and still is completely narcissistic, misogynistic and failed to relate to the audience. (Because majority of it was about his wife being hot and amazing and that he could have sex with her… because they were married??? ergh.. )

    I agree with Josh that the emotional intention and musical set up is like going to a rock concert and they have mentioned that they do it to create the atmosphere because it allows god to come to enter the place for worship. Which is what I do now, when I try to meditate and get my mindfulness on, sure it works. Yet the difference is, I do it in a way that is comfortable for me not to manipulate others to ‘feel the holy spirit’.

    Sure they are NOW starting to be more “open” and aware of mental well being. It is amazing to read people challenging the hierarchies and privilege’s that they (Pastors/Leaders/Attendees) on their social media (especially when it comes from ex church goers) that call out the BS. It gives someone like me hope that people do see through the illusion of religion.

    Anyway, I could go on and on about the financial drama, family drama, social climbers, business of it all really… a

    As for when it comes to having faith and/or belief. Thats honestly great and amazing!
    However, choosing to manipulate and exploit as an ‘act of faith and charity’ and reap a following for narcissistic intent. Is not ok.

    To give faith, is CONSENT. Consent is not just saying yes for sexual endeavors. Consent is saying YES to everything. Including a persons CHOICE to put their invested energy and time into that dedication and commitment. That is what this article I think touches on.

    Thank you both Dave and Josh for writing this.
    It is brave to come forward and share the insight, experience, knowledge and truth.

    At the time I felt so guilty and ashamed because I felt I did something wrong. For many years I hated myself and thought I was not good enough for love and more. Now, I know that is total bull shit and I am proud of myself for asking questions, for eventually leaving, for researching, persevering and ultimately discovering that I do not need a religion and a modernized cult to tell me what my worth is and that I can only require it by giving myself up to [insert deity here] because that is simply not true.

    I have studied in the sciences and been involved in so many non religious charities, community events, festivals and organisations that achieve far greater results without the boast of ‘divine preaching’ or the sale target of conversion.

    So, I guess, thank you to places like Arise for showing me what not to follow and in a weird ironic twist. I guess I did Arise.

    Peace x

    • Thanks for taking the time to write this detailed and personal comment on your experiences. Sorry that you had to go through that! Your insights will be useful to others who read them.

    • Thank you for this comment. I had a similar experience of Arise (although not quite as involved with the leadership) and have found your comment and journey very relatable. I am now 30 and although it was awful and has left a lot of scars, I am grateful for my time at Arise. It has given me the ability to think far more critically and enabled me to figure out (like you), the places I do not want to be!

      Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Thank fuck someone finally said it. As an ex member of arise church having been recruited when I was a very impressionable 13 year old it is so refreshing to read. The fact that this article was so long yet still I could think of 10 other things wrong with this church is mind blowing. It’s a cult, period.

      • To name a few:

        I’ve seen multiple MALE members of arise express their damaging opinions on abortion by sharing screenshots saying shit along the lines of “murder isn’t a right”. The comments on this one particular post that I saw were females expressing educated and well thought out opinions with men who claim to be “Christian” and “people-loving” being extremely rude, nasty and ignorant towards the issue at hand. Now I’m not here to question anyone’s faith but it just wasn’t behaviour that you would expect from people who seem to put themselves on this ridiculous moral pedestal. Sure, they are allowed to have an opinion but labelling women who choose to have abortions as murderers is not okay. What gives anyone, especially men, the right to take away that choice? Be pro-life for yourself if you want to, but what other people CHOOSE to do should not be your concern.

        Publicly speaking out about signing petitions against gay marriage. Disgusting behaviour. Aren’t we meant to love and accept everyone for who they truly are? Being homosexual isn’t a choice. What christians don’t seem to realise is that not everyone is going to subscribe to their way of living. I have nothing against Christianity or the way these people choose to live their lives but why do they have to try and force this way of being on everyone else? How does people being gay affect them? Why do they make this their problem when it isn’t?

        I’ve had multiple friends who are also ex members of arise tell me that “leaders” have told them to break up with their partners because they weren’t “saved”. Why is that their business who people choose to date? It isn’t.

        I think the main thing I’m trying to express here is that I, as an atheist, am happy for christians to live their lives the way they want to, but why can’t they just let everyone else live theirs? What they choose to do is none of my business. If they want to never have an abortion, that’s all good, none of my business. If they believe that homosexuality doesn’t exist or whatever, sweet that’s none of my business. But it is my business when they tear other people down for believing something different. It is my business when they say women who choose abortion are murderers. It is my business when they try to stop a law being passed that allows two people of the same sex to get married. All of the issues listed above have absolutely nothing to do with them, yet they try and push their agenda onto everyone else because god apparently said in some book written thousands of years ago what is right and wrong?

        All in all I have some really good memories from my time at arise but the cons outweigh the pros significantly. I grew up and I realised how naive I was to believe anything they were telling me. I saw arise for what it truly is, toxic. Isn’t that ironic??

        • Unfortunately, many people consider faith to be a virtue (it’s not) and questioning authority is considered a bad thing. I guess when you believe that you have the ultimate authority on your side, why would you think you could be wrong?

        • Sorry Meg, but I have never experienced toxic environments from ARISE members. But that might be because that I’m just an ARISE attendant and not an ARISE team member who is just in his youth. Just remembering everyone that ARISE church members are humans too, which means we’re not perfect. When I say not perfect, I’m saying that we will always make mistakes in life and we cannot live our lives without mistakes like Jesus, according to the Bible’s description of Him. And so this means that even ARISE Church itself is not perfect. Even I a Christian myself has a dream to make a change, but there are times I admit that I act like a hypocrite sometimes.

          But if we want to makes things better, makes things right and to improve things, then we do not just need to point out or to expose the flaws, but also suggestions on how to make those improvements and to make up for the wrongs we did. And also even if there was toxicity in the work team when I become an A team member myself, I choose to stay Christian and to stay in ARISE to make improvements on the workspace. Easier said than done I know. The reason I choose to rely in Christianity, it’s also because of a very hard truth that I find also very hard to accept:

          A life without God is ultimately meaningless. Everything built, created, all of our achievements all for nothing. That’s all I have to say.

          • “A life without God is ultimately meaningless” OR… How will I know what to do without a master?, said the slave. Have more faith in yourself.

            • Hi my name is Tyson.
              I was introduced to Jesus and christianity at bible class in school when I was 5. My mother was horrified when I started having nightmares and sleeping problems because I was fearful that the demons were going to get me. When she went to the bible class teacher and complained, her response was “Well he has to find out about it all at sometime”
              Around 21 years old I started going to a baptist church which was quite easygoing but then switched to a full on cult called the international church of christ. There was something on every night after work, fellowship, meetings, social events and lots and lots of bible studies. Plus Sunday was church of course. I went there for a few years and got a thorough training. As I do, I switched again, now to a pentacostal church called Divine. I never could get with speaking in tongues or falling down & rolling around on the floor. I always thought it was fake. The healings looked fake too.
              My next switch, at around 30 yrs old was to the mega cult Jehova’s Witness. The brain washing and indoctrination at their kingdom hall and fellowship was very powerful. Fortunately I was disfellowshipped and escaped, it took a while for my brain to get back to normal. I decided not to go to any churches anymore, I learned enough about it all to satisfy my curiosity. I noticed a few things that stood out to me over the years. Each church claimed that they were the only true one, that all other churches or religions were not. They all wanted money. I always cried poor and would only give a few dollars very occasionally. They all brainwashed me to be this ideal christian person that wasnt me being me. Consequently, I got back to being me and am much happier. I found that worrying about sin causes the mind to focus on what is sinful, and therefore you sin. I did, anyway. Now that im not obsessed with it its no longer an issue. I have come to realize that the bible is like a very powerful computer programme, or brain programme, that can be used by powerful and controlling people to manipulate others.
              When you are running the christian programme, if anyone oposes it, you just think the devil or the enemy is at work. Most all christians I ever met did not follow Jesus example at all. They all just wanted to be the one doing the talking, to show what a great christian they are and how amazing their knowledge of the scriptures is.
              There are lots of fairytales in the bible, Jesus walking on water and talking snakes and totally dead people coming back to life, plus many more impossibilities like the immaculate conception. All impossible rubbish, and lots of it. I noticed from these experiences that when you choose to believe something your brain will re-enforce that for you, even to the point of seeing things or making divine connections or meanings out of things.Your mind will add to the programme for you and you will find your own proof everywhere. Not provable proof, just proof in your own mind.. But the undeniable truth is that no one can prove God exists. The bible is just an old book. It holds no proof of Gods existence. Its possible that its a complete hoax and entirely made up. Who would know, it was created so long ago.
              Believers proof is in their mind, because the longer you run the programme, the more the mind supports it. Churches are all in business. And that business is for money and controlling their people. If you google Arise or any large church you will read many horrible testmonies from the people who got damaged. Theyre not real friends, just see what happens if you hit rough times or fall out of faith. Everyone disapears. Real friends are hard to come by these days and you wont find them at these places. Can you remember before you were born, before you were even concieved? No. And thats most likely how its going to be when you die. Nothing. Just absollute nothing. The electrical currents stop in your brain and its back to how it was before you existed. So save your money for the rising cost of living on this planet and get back to being yourself without worrying about crap like sin and the devil. Because thats what christianity is really about, fear of the devil. I had it right the first time.When I was 5. Cheers

                • Thanks for posting my story Dave, here’s a bit more of my 5 cents worth. Lol

                  Its a very interesting blog you have here, I discovered it when i was googeling about Arise church and reading about their indoctrination methods and about the people who are currently, and who have been exploited, over worked, abused or otherwise hurt in the church.

                  I found it interesting that (like Hillsong) they use partying to loud rock music, flashing party lights and a hyped up dance party/ nightclub environment for their meetings. Hypocritical? Because there are lots of bible scriptures that advise sternly against revelry. Just Google ” is reveling a sin ” and they are all there to see, partying is another word for reveling. So Arise has pushed through this strict christian boundary to use the act of reveling (without alcohol, of course, they couldnt go that far) to suit a modern day marketing plan to attract the young people to their rock music dance party services. Very clever of them, breaking the rules in the bible to suit themselves like this lol.

                  But- I say this to Arise, its still a sin to revel, always will be, so your a bible believing christian church and you believe its against God to sin, but your service itself is possibly a sinful hypocracy, by using a nightclub environment with party mode and loud rock music to indoctrinate and glean lots of money from the young, impressionable and vulnerable people that your clearly targeting.

                  Apparently in the modern world, encouraging people into giving over lots of their money during the service is more successful in this type of sinful reveling atmosphere. Your figures prove that. Tax free too! Its all about the money. Money money money!

                  Conning them all to pay (sorry tithe) at this “Place of God” to get to maybe go to heaven and escape the painful eternity of the devil and hell. Which is the biggest money scam of all time. Been going now for 20 centuries. Here its marketed in party mode.
                  Christians, your all being scammed.

                  (Not that Im trying to be a good christian myself, I like to also have a few beers or wines when I party at the club. Lol.)

                  Dave, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your forum and look forward to reading more peoples stories and points of view, and I especially like your replies to the believers comments, your very good at debating with them. They can be very strong with their opinions so its good to see a calm & logical reply that gets everyone thinking.
                  I think this forum is quite therapeutic and healing for people who have had some very tough experiences at churches like Arise.


                  • Thanks for your kind words, Tyson. I think that people tend to cherry-pick from the Bible and follow the rules that they agree with! I’ll mention something like Deuteronomy 22:20–21 (quote below) and ask how a good god would allow this? What follows is always a game of cat and mouse where they say that things were different then, that it’s out of context or that we have new rules now. They’ll happily ignore that it was the same god they worship and that they promote the ten commandments, which are also from the old testament. It’s usually pointless arguing biblical content. I’d rather discuss how they know what they believe is true.

                    But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

  18. Well it frustrates me. These people made me question everything about myself. Made me feel bad for behaving in certain ways that were, in hindsight, very normal. And for that I will always be bitter. Thank you for creating this platform.

    • I could agree more. To both this comment and your comment above. I was really messed up by my time at Arise as an impressionable, lost teenager. At 30 years old and having left the church well over 10 years ago, I found myself triggered by the latest news of Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston. Finding this blog after a long googling session this afternoon has been very therapeutic and helpful to realise I’m not alone.

  19. I’ve interacted with some lovely people from the church, and some really arrogant people. I think unfortunately they like to pump young men up with what they want to hear, so in a workplace, they can be very arrogant (unsurprisingly I haven’t seen this from women in the church)

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