Banning Liebscher

Banning Liebscher is a pastor, speaker and author. Along with his wife, SeaJay, he founded Jesus Culture, a ministry of worship, conferences and leadership development. In 2014, they planted Jesus Culture Sacramento Church in Folsom, California. Liebscher has written a few books, most recently, “The Three-Mile Walk: The Courage You Need to Live the Life God Wants for You.”

What is the “Three-Mile Walk” about?

The “Three-Mile Walk” draws from the Biblical story of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14, who, after a treacherous three-mile hike, boldly stepped into battle and watched God work a surprising victory.

“It’s this really incredible picture of contrast,” Liebscher said. “You’ve got the Israelites encamped on one hill and the Philistines encamped on another hill—a three-mile valley between them, but then you’ve got this picture of King Saul and his son Jonathan. Saul is content to sit underneath the pomegranate tree and look from a distance on what he’s called to do. Jonathan, though, something stirs in him. He has this divine dissatisfaction in him. He says, ‘I don’t want to sit on the sidelines anymore. I want to engage my heart.’”

Jonathan and his young armor bearer killed 20 Philistines.

Liebscher said Jonathan was awakened to God’s call and showed three characteristics from the story.

Mile 1: Holiness—Not a list of do’s and don’ts, but being set apart to God.

Mile 2: Courage—“The enemy is coming to disarm you of your courage—to discourage you—because he knows you’ll never do what God’s called you to do apart from courage,” Liebscher said.

Mile 3: Faith—When Jonathan was against all odds and without the support of his father’s army, he still moved forward and defeated the enemy.

“Nothing about these circumstances changes that call; in fact, that is exactly the time to engage it,” Liebscher added. “In revivals or moves of God, they’re actually connected with some of the lowest points in society. When it is at a low point morally or economically, that’s when God shows up. This is when He does things. When it seems like all hope has been lost, we come to a point where our own strength can’t accomplish it. We put a lot of faith in our programs, effort, preaching, charisma or leadership ability, but when it’s not getting the job done, we finally get to a place where it’s, ‘God, if it’s not You, this thing isn’t going to work.’”

How does comparison culture hurt us in pursuing God’s calling on our lives?

Jonathan lived out God’s calling by being faithful with what was in front of him.

Comparison culture, Liebscher said, tends to get us to turn our heads to the left or right.

“When we’re dissatisfied with what’s in front of us and comparing our lives to other people, it’s because we have a wrong definition of success,” Liebscher said. “God defines success by obedience and faithfulness. Was I obedient to what He asked of me and faithful with what He gave me? You cannot define success outside of eternity. Success is not how many books I sell or how big my church is, but how I served His body. When I stand before God one day, He’s not going to ask me, ‘Why didn’t you sell as many books as this pastor or become this popular?’ If Jesus is not going to ask me about it, then I can’t use it as a measurement for success.”

What sound are you trying to create through Jesus Culture?

Liebscher, who has been in ministry for 25 years, began his ministry as a youth pastor when he was 19.

In 1999, his youth group put on a youth conference and some of Liebscher’s youth group kids helped lead worship.

The worship team took off from there, and it ultimately led to the formation of Jesus Culture.

“We just want people to encounter God,” Liebscher said. “Are people falling more in love with Jesus with our worship? We would tour around the world … but everywhere we went, we would just stop and say, ‘Listen, if people walk away tonight talking about us, the music, the lights, the people they saw, we failed. The only version of success is if people walk away tonight talking about a greater love for Jesus, then we’ve done our job.’ That’s always been our heart.”