Revolution was started in Phoenix, AZ in 1994 by Kelli Miller, Mike Walls and Jay Bakker. These three saw a desperate need within their community for the love of Christ as it was evident that the church was ignoring and even blatantly rejecting a whole subculture of people based on their appearance and lifestyle. Revolution sought to meet this need through having services that featured bands, DJ’s, art exhibits, a coffeehouse and guest speakers. They brought in both local and regional touring acts, trying to cater to the interests of the community around them. Each one of the founders had a heart for different types of people within the subculture and would spend time hanging out with them individually, forging true, solid relationships.
Their goal was to include everyone in the community, no matter how diverse their lifestyle. Revolution grew quite fast, and within six months a house was donated to use for their ever-growing events, which now included pot luck dinners, concerts and skateboard ramps in the backyard. People were able to hang out and hear about the hope of Christ on their own terms.
In 1997, Kelli and Jay had an opportunity to expand Revolution, so they decided to move to LA. Their stay only lasted one year, but it was a tremendous learning experience. In 1998 a ministry in Atlanta, GA named Safehouse offered to be Revolution’s parent ministry and to give them financial support. Upon moving to Atlanta, the leaders of Revolution had a strong calling to reach out to the people in the Little Five Points community with their message of Christ’s unconditional love. Being a part of Safehouse allowed them to have weekly Bible Studies as well as shows at their facilities.
In January of 2002 IF Coffee Shop in Little Five Points offered Revolution their building to use for a Tuesday night Bible Study. Because the coffee shop is located within the community they loved and put their hearts into, Revolution readily accepted the offer.
After working together for five years, Revolution separated from Safehouse Ministries in 2003 and has operated as an independent organization ever since. This proved to be very challenging in the beginning but ultimately helped Jay and the staff to grow in many ways.
2004 brought more changes – most notably with Revolution moving Services to The Masquerade, a local bar and music venue in Atlanta. The interesting part is that The Masquerade actually contacted Revolution and the move. They had heard nothing but good things about Revolution from the kids that attended shows and asked Revolution to move services. September 13 marked the first service with Jay’s mom Tammy Faye as the featured speaker.
The impending closure of The Masquerade caused the move to another local bar in East Atlanta called The EARL. The move took place on June 4, 2006. This would only last a few months but the next move wasn’t just to another bar – it was to a completely new city. After over a year of planning, Jay moved to New York City to start a new Revolution church.
Revolution Atlanta continues under the leadership of Jay’s close friend Stu Damron. In addition, John and Stephanie Hughes who interned at Revolution in 2005 were ordained and sent out to start a Revolution church in Jay’s old hometown of Charlotte, NC.
Revolution NYC is currently based in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and is now more than ever focused on community involvement. It has been an amazing thirteen years with many changes, but thanks to the grace of God and all who have supported us, Revolution continues to move forward.
Jay Bakker is a 32 year old pastor who grew up witnessing both the good and bad of the church. His parents are Jim and Tammy Faye, ministers-turned-TV-hosts who helped start both the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club in the 1970’s, and later founded the PTL (Praise The Lord) Club. At the height of their popularity, they pastored the largest church in the country – until their lives were changed by one of the biggest scandals in American history. For the first time, Jay was exposed to the dark underbelly of religion; an experience that would stay with him to this day.
After witnessing firsthand the excommunicative treatment his family received from the church, Jay wanted nothing to do with God. And so began a new life filled with substances easily abused and nonstop partying created to mask the pain and suffering caused by this surreal rejection. Eventually, Jay was able to conquer his demons and made a personal decision to find out who God really was. What he discovered floored him – God wasn’t some judgmental, condemning deity sitting on a throne waving an angry fist in the direction of sinners – rather, he was an understanding God offering his gift of love and grace with no strings attached. For the first time Jay wasn’t being driven to Christ out of fear; he was being drawn to Christ through love.
As a result of this discovery, Jay started a church for those who feel rejected by traditional approaches to Christianity; this church is called Revolution. The idea behind Revolution is to show all people the unconditional love and grace of Jesus without any reservations due to their lifestyles or background, past or future. In the desire to bypass geographical boundaries, all Services are recorded and posted on the Revolution Church website to create an “online church for people who have given up on church.”
In addition to pastoring Revolution, Jay travels the country speaking to churches and organizations, encouraging them to reach out to the lost and hurting. His goal is to return to the grassroots of Christianity founded on inclusion, love and grace; his heart is helping people realize that God loves them no matter what.
Jay has spoken at numerous festivals and churches as well as appeared both on television (One Punk Under God, Larry King Live, 20/20, Good Morning America) and in print (Rolling Stone, NY Times, Time, FHM, Charisma, Relevant).
SUPPORT the work of Revolution NYC - click here to donate!