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52 Churches

Reflecting on Church #11: Charismatic Lite

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #11.

At this charismatic church, most of the attendees were middle-aged adults. The few youth present weren’t engaged in the worship or the message, as they measured time until they could leave.

This disappointed me. They lacked the supernatural fire of their parents, who seem to have failed at passing their faith unto the next generation.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

When I think of charismatic, several words come to mind: passionate, alive, and free. I didn’t see much of that, which left me confused. Sadly, this scenario would repeat at some of the other charismatic churches, too. I call this experience “charismatic lite.”

[See my reflections about Church #10 and Church #12 or start with Church #1.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

More Youthful Worship (Visiting Church #27)

We arrive at church about ten minutes early, and after milling about for a while, we sit down.

A mostly youthful praise team assembles on the stage to worship God, which is a mere eight inches high; the low ceiling allows for little more. In addition to three who play guitar, there’s one on bass, a drummer, and two backup vocalists.

The lead vocalist is also one of the guitarists. They’re accomplished but without a showy polish. They play and sing with energy and are some of the best we’ve experienced.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

Worship God

We’re encouraged to worship God any way we wish, be it to dance, raise our arms, kneel, or even prostrate ourselves. For the second time in the last two weeks, a young child sings loudly and off-key but with unabashed enthusiasm.

I love it and hope no one ever squashes his zeal of singing to God.

The three-song set lasts for about thirty minutes. Although lyrically repetitious, it’s also a visual worship experience. Many dance, some in the aisle and a few in front of the stage. Theirs is an exuberant expression of joy, which I vicariously experience.

One of the backup vocalist, perhaps in middle school, jumps and dances with abandon as she sings, full of energy and passion and joy. With an occasional arm raised heavenward and an effervescent smile of delight, she often looks up as she praises God.

It’s as if she sees Jesus and is smiling at him. Her angelic face ushers me into the presence of God. It’s a beautiful thing.

Following this is a time of testimony, prayer, and then preaching. The service ends and we head home, remembering this group of amazing young people who showed us how to worship God in spirit and in truth ( John 4:24).

[Read about Church #26 and Church #28, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #27.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

A Time of Pure Worship (Visiting Church #24)

The church we visited on Sunday is a mostly older congregation. The worship team, however, is comprised of teens. What a pleasant surprise. Three play guitars, with one on percussion. Offstage is a pianist, the church’s worship leader and the only non-teen of the ensemble.

There are several vocalists, with two who sing and play. The church’s hymnals and the pipe organ go unused the entire service.

The teens lead us in modern worship songs and choruses; we sing as the words are displayed overhead. Accomplished, without being assuming, their sound is a safe contemporary and most conducive for worship.

I’m drawn to them and they point me to God. It’s a wondrous time. I stand there, in awe of the moment, so taken that I sometimes forget to sing.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

Though this music is not my preferred choice, I find it compelling. They play and sing with joy; their worship is pure. They bring me into God’s presence.

This group is good at what they do, but if they’re aware of it, they don’t show it. They’re confident and poised, without calling attention to themselves. Praising God is their focus.

Praising God is their focus. Click To Tweet

This is unexpected, an anomaly inserted into a more traditional order of worship. Afterwards we learn that most of these teens don’t attend this church, but were invited in for the day. Ironically, it’s what I enjoyed most about the service.

[Read about Church #23 and Church #25, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #24.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: Mentoring Millennials

Mentoring Millennials: Shaping the Next Generation

By Dr. Daniel Egeler (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Mentoring Millennials: Shaping the Next Generation is ideal for anyone mentoring those in the Millennial generation. (Sometimes called Generation Y, the Millennial generation consists of those born after 1982 and whose parents are baby boomers.)

The book opens with a compelling call to leave a legacy via mentoring Millennials, “the next generation.”  Egeler captures readers’ attention and inspires vision by spelling out the details of the hugely untapped potential of Millennials – and points out the substantial peril of ignoring this nascent generation at risk.

This dichotomy is brought into perspective with a clear summary of what it is to be post-modern, offering a candid, yet insightful interpretation of the post-modernal mind-set, perspective, and priorities.

Truly, the post-modern Millennial is a generation with great promise and even greater need; they are the future and deserve the focused attention of today’s mentors.

Egeler follows with a concise summary of Stanley and Clinton’s mentoring model. He then discusses each methodology, replete with personal experiences that are convincingly illustrated in light of the post-modern Millennial via his compelling storytelling ability.

[Mentoring Millennials: Shaping the Next Generation, by Dr. Daniel Egeler. Published by NavPress, 2003, ISBN: 978-1576833827, 168 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Reviews of Books & Movies

Movie Review: A Time for Burning

Movie Review: A Time for Burning

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Shot documentary style in the 1960s, A Time for Burning captures honest, balanced, poignant, and candid insights into race issues and segregation from a different era. In the decades since, some things have changed dramatically, while others are disappointingly the same.

The film chronicles one minister’s attempts to nudge his all-white congregation forward by encouraging simple acts of intentionality in reaching out to members of an all-black church, of the same denomination, located only a few blocks away.

The youth of each church make an initial effort by visiting each other’s church. Although the adults engage in much discussion—some hostile, others fearful, yet open—it doesn’t result in action.

In an unexpected twist the minister who pushed the idea suddenly resigns, yet the cameras continue to roll. As such, there is no satisfying end to the saga, only insight to contemplate and unanswered questions that now seem more complex.

For those who lived through the 60s, the film is a powerful reminder; for those too young to know, it is a powerful glimpse into what once was and the bias and emotion that flailed against change.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Pray it Forward: Praying for Future Generations

Pray it Forward: Praying for Future Generations

For my first ten years as a parent, I struggled to pray for my children. Oh, I did pray for them but not regularly, not every day.

This changed when someone gave me a list of twenty-three traits to pray for my children. The items included that they would fall in love with God’s word, have a heart for missions, love others, for their future spouse, and so forth.

Each morning I’d ask God to instill in them one of the characteristics on the list. After twenty-three days, I’d start over.

Just when the list started becoming routine, I bought a prayer card that provided thirty-one items, mostly different from the first list. For the past twenty years I’ve switched between these two resources, each day asking God to instill in my children one of the traits on the list.

But I didn’t just pray for my kids.

The first additions to the list were their friends. Not only did I desire God-honoring children, but I also wanted them in the company of godly friends. In later years, I likewise prayed for those they dated, and then college roommates, and finally their spouses.

With my kids’ marriages came the prospect of grandchildren, so I added my future grandkids to my daily prayers. It wasn’t that I urged God to rush them. Instead, I prayed that when they did arrive, they, too, would possess these same godly characteristics.

It’s one thing to pray in faith for future grandchildren, but soon God prompted me to expand my vision, to include my future great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren: the next four generations.

While it’s feasible I may one day see my great grandchildren, it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever see my great, great grandkids – at least not in the physical realm.

After my first grandson arrived, God prompted me for even more. Now my prayers are paving the way for the next ten generations. It’s hard to comprehend, but I pray by faith, expectant for amazing results.

Even more, I suspect that before my life is over, God will tell me to pray beyond the next ten generations.

In addition to praying for my offspring, I’ve also included my niece and nephews, my closest friends, people I mentor, and missionaries I support.

I share my prayer practices with much trepidation. I don’t want to call attention to myself, but I do want to encourage everyone to pray for their children, both those seen and those unseen.

May you pray it forward. Start today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: The Hip-Hop Church

The Hip-Hop Church: Connecting with the Movement Shaping Our Culture

By Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

In The Hip-Hop Church, authors Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson assert that hip-hop transcends the music on which it is based, forming its own culture that has been largely missed or dismissed by the church.

They note that even youth who don’t listen to hip-hop music are heavily influenced by the culture it has spawned. This is the hip-hop generation, which the authors present as an overlooked mission field.

Book Review: The Hip-Hop Church

Divided into three parts, along with two forwards and an introduction, The Hip-Hop Church provides much to consider and contemplate about all that is hip-hop. In the introduction, the authors share their connection with hip-hop and their passion for it.

Part one, “Why Should the Church Care about Hip-Hop,” consists of a solitary chapter that addresses the connections between hip-hop and the African American church. The authors astutely note that “the church cannot avoid the culture of the unchurched postmodern community,” (p 42).

Part two, “Understanding the Hip-Hop Culture,” addresses hip-hop as both postmodern and an influencer of culture. Laying the foundation for discussion, Efrem states that “Hip-hop is about dance, art, expression, pain, love, racism, sexism, broken families, hard times, the search for God and overcoming,” (p 81).

“Bringing Hip-Hop into Your Church” is the title of part three, introducing the concept of “holy hip-hop.” Comprising nearly half the book, this section is both a primer and a practical guide for those desiring to integrate hip-hop into their church services or to produce special hip-hop outreach events.

After discussing the components that comprise a holy hip hop service, the schedule, or “flow,” of one is presented.

Phil concludes The Hip-Hop Church with the reminder that “culture and religion cannot be separated,” (p 217). For his part, Efrem reminds readers that “the church embracing and engaging hip-hop culture in the end is really not about music but about a generation of young people,” (p 220).

Throughout the book there are repeated allusions that though hip-hop is primarily an urban, minority phenomenon, its influences pervade all of culture and therefore all churches must consider reaching out to the hip-hop generation.

Nevertheless, the examples and efforts shared center on the urban, African American church, leaving more questions than answers for those who are non-urban and non-African American. Even so, The Hip-Hop Church provides much to consider and contemplate.

[The Hip-Hop Church: Connecting with the Movement Shaping Our Culture, by Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson. Published by InterVarsity Press, 2005, ISBN: 978-0-8308-3329-0, 227 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Where’s Daniel?

Where’s Daniel?

You may know about Daniel, the guy noted for spending the night with a bunch of hungry lions and emerging the next morning unscathed.

The bigger story is that as a youth he was captured by an invading army, forcibly relocated to Babylon, stripped of his culture, indoctrinated with new philosophies, and forced to work for the king. Through all this, he put God first and acquitted himself well, serving four kings from two kingdoms.

There’s a curious verse about Daniel: “Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

If he’s not there, where is he?

A clue is that, also occurring during the first year of Cyrus’s reign, some of the exiles are permitted to return to their homeland. Daniel would have been in his eighties at the time, but he could have made the journey.  In fact, both Ezra and Nehemiah list a “Daniel” making the return trip.

Perhaps after years of faithful service to both God and king, Daniel is finally able to go home.

[Daniel 1:21, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-2, Ezra 8:2, Nehemiah 10:6]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.