Chris Cole, Cross Rhythms Founder, charts the spiritual trends and emphases that the Cross Rhythms ministry has been a part of since its inception in 1982.

Chris Cole FRSA
Chris Cole FRSA

For many people, the future from a global perspective seems to be increasingly insecure which can generate fear and thus impact upon the hearts and minds of many ordinary people as we live out our lives. For the Christian, however, a journey of genuine faith, hope and love will help lay a foundation of increasing personal security through our relationship with God, which will in turn defeat those personal trends of increasing fear and uncertainty. 'Faith, not fear' is a positive statement of hope for the genuine Christian.

The following article, I hope, will encourage those who have tracked with Cross Rhythms since the 1980's or who have just connected with us to better understand our ministry. We are a broadcast media ministry called to proclaim and live out the good news of Jesus Christ. This article isn't so much about our prophetic word, vision or history which can be read on our website, but more an observation of what we have learnt and experienced over time as a ministry. Since the ministry was started through a prophetic word and because I think we are going through significant spiritual changes which are crucially important to all of us involved in Christian media, I felt it was right in God, therefore, to document some of the main motivations of our journey. Neither is this article short, because I'm trying to condense over thirty three years of experience and understanding into it. This is also the first time I've attempted to write this, but I think the timing is strategic and was encouraged to do this by one of our Board of Reference.

It is in humble gratitude to God through experiencing His leading, guidance and sustainability over the last three plus decades of His ministry that I write this. I believe we are experiencing a new season of a 'brave new world' which will impact upon us all globally and shift us all, spiritually. One could argue that this 'brave new world' is nothing new in God's economy or motivation and we have God's word, Holy Spirit and history for guidance, but it is new for those of us who have not passed through this way before on planet earth, which of course is all of us.

We believe as a Board of Trustees and Executive Team that Cross Rhythms has a strategic part to play in God's outworking of His purposes in these challenging days. We have a fantastic team working with and led by Jon and Heather Bellamy who administer the day to day and work out so faithfully God's increasing revelation through our networks and media platforms. This team includes Tony and Maxine Cummings who have researched the growth of Christian music with incredible diligence over the years. Our Board of Trustees have travelled with the ministry as seasoned and mature Christians in their own right. If we were to identify every soldier of Jesus Christ on the team we would probably need another article, but the following statement sums it up well and all in the team are recognised by Heaven. Some say "God gives his hardest battles to his toughest soldiers" which I really respect, but see it more a case of "God doesn't give the hardest battles to His toughest soldiers; He creates the toughest soldiers through life's hardest battles". Staying in the battle is real love. That is the essence of the cross.

Historically, I was influenced through what was called the Jesus Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s after experiencing salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ in 1981. Bob Dylan's song 'Serve Somebody' from the album 'Slow Train Coming' was used by God to strengthen me through a painful process of death and resurrection within my conversion coming out of some real brokenness. From this experience the seed of Cross Rhythms was established through a prophetic word in 1982 and the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ radio programme on Plymouth Sound in 1983. At the time, my inspiration was learning about where these spiritual songs, known as contemporary Christian music, had come from. I only had twenty five albums at the time so I had no idea that this Christian music phenomenon would grow the way it did, but sometimes it isn't wise to overly think through from our own natural understanding on issues of faith because it doesn't allow for genuine spiritual trust. Being intentional in life is about knowing our identity in God from the heart so that the authority to establish His Kingdom comes through our spiritual life and prophetic calling. A life confirmed by the miraculous provision and establishment built on true faith is basic Christianity. Wisdom of the heart is the foundation for the knowledge of the mind. The heart carries love, courage and faithfulness, the mind processes these issues which all come from the heart. Proverbs is a great book for expanding on this.

Cross Rhythms and the Jesus movement

This Jesus Revolution started with young hippies like Lonnie Frisbee, one of the 'fathers in the faith' of the Jesus Movement, who amongst others had experienced a great spiritual encounter with God. In association with Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, he influenced John Wimber's establishment of the Vineyard movement. God always works from true humility, even using a manger in Bethlehem. From Vineyard's experience and with some controversy, the Toronto Blessing of the 1990s in Canada exploded on the Christian scene. This Jesus Movement wasn't just about the music, but something far more significant. It was going to challenge structural change within the Church and cultural shifts within society. Music was one of this movement's major weapons, both within and outside Church.

Popular music is one of the most important factors amongst the young who established their cultural worldview through the expression of music, especially in the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. It inspired a generation, for good or ill, to change things socially. Social protest movements were inspired through popular music in the USA in support of Civil Rights or against the Vietnam War. This music in other spheres of life changed the way a generation saw things, including morality. Our current social attitudes in the west were established through this Cultural Revolution. However, Church culture at the time missed what was going on in the 1960s and onwards, as we will point out later on through comments from our good friend John Smith.

The growth of Christian music was important to demonstrate that God had an agenda for the current culture, but it was the substance within the lyrics and why God was using this music which inspired me the most. These developments contributed to what is now recognised as a small, but significant part of the global Charismatic and Pentecostal movement, especially through worship music. The music helped a younger generation build a more articulate 'apologetic' amongst their peers and engage with cultural change.

At the same time, God was moving in church structures in the west. The Roman Catholic Church experienced the Holy Spirt renewal in the 1960s which resulted in almost 80 million Catholics, in time, encountering the Holy Spirit in an experiential way. According to the founders of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, John and Carol Arnott, the 'Toronto Blessing' in the early 1990s should have been called the Father's Blessing, (it was called Toronto Blessing by a journalist). The Father's Blessing started to impact many Churches in Canada, USA and UK. This revelation of God as a Wonderful Father and Godly Parent was a major element of keeping Cross Rhythms focused on what God was doing with us as a community called to media as we established that community in Plymouth, England. This revelation of God as Father is also where we saw deep discipleship being established and the character and gifts of discipleship operating in balance. It was the key factor in building with Tony Fitzgerald and Church of the Nations who ministered so effectively and powerfully at our festivals during the 1990s. It wasn't easy to find mature preachers who could minister in association with Christian musicians. Tony did this brilliantly with David Evans and others and our festivals were powerfully visited by God's Presence. We were also open to building with other Church streams and ministries carrying a similar revelation. For example, we now see through the Bethel Movement in Redding, California and their conferences broadcast on Christian television (such as GOD TV) and the World Wide Web including social media, this ongoing and growing focus on God as a Wonderful Godly Parent who wants us as His children to win in life, regardless of circumstances. In it all is a messy journey of God's children building a relationship with the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor and Everlasting Father who in Himself is the only Perfection, although we are called to be perfect as He is Perfect in terms of our worldview, choices and love. God was training us at Cross Rhythms to be part of what is coming, spiritually.

Our response as Christians

Our journey as Christians, through this challenging and very real adventure on planet earth, requires knowledge and trust of God as a Parent which is founded in the heart of a believer where true courage, trust and love are established. This is truly experiential with the help of the Holy Spirit and requires an understanding of true authentic faith. Our relationship with God as a Perfect Parent was one of the main missions of Jesus Christ the Son who is described in Isaiah 9 verse 6: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." The Godhead is indivisible, but is interdependent and in a similar way we are called to be interdependent as His Body on earth, as we will see in John 1 later. I believe this revelation of The Father Heart of God and the Body of Christ being built on the apostolic and prophetic and the fivefold ministry was in the dna of the Jesus Movement.

This history of the Jesus Movement and Cross Rhythms was accomplished through wonderful, but broken people. Christianity, seen from spiritual experience and the Bible, is established through extremely messy lives lived by men and women with broken attitudes and motivations as they endeavour to work out their salvation (healing) with fear and trembling. Our broken humanity is something which, as the church, we need to lovingly understand and be honest about, as demonstrated through the lives of those men and women characterised through the supernatural scriptures of the Holy Bible. The Church has not been very good when it comes to emotional intelligence, therefore many have found some church communities an unsafe place for their broken humanity, which is an important issue to understand if our identity is to be healed in God. Lonnie Frisbee died in relative ignominy in terms of wrestling through his identity. These are real issues of life with real eternal consequences and for the love of God require more than a 'form of godliness without His power'. Issues of life come out of the heart, according to Proverbs, and not the head, which can be defensive over matters of the heart. Note Jesus' words to His disciples in John 1 verse 2- 13:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

This revelation of His Love is the only genuine security any of us as Christians can build our spiritual conviction upon. This is what Jesus did. He relied upon His relationship with His Father for everything. None of us in leadership can father and take the place of God as Father in another person's life, but we can father in faith and this is an important distinction to avoid religious abuse and control. Conversely, Godly authority only works if there is a genuine alignment from the sons and daughters to God and the communities where they are connected or indeed birthed into. God is building His Church, not our Church. Free will aligned to the prison of love is an important aspect for a life of ongoing discipleship, if we want to experience true freedom.