It s no secret that churches that put an emphasis on appealing to and involving young people are not just investing in the future, but reaping rewards in the present.
While Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, is known worldwide for its praise and worship music, primarily led by singer Darlene Zschech, there s a youth movement at that Down Under church that is also causing waves soundwaves around the world.
The church s youth group is called United and the musicians who play for those services have a band called United Live, which just released its sixth album since 1999. The CD is titled United We Stand, released on the Integrity Music label.
The 13 songs achieve a rare balance of energy and reverence, driven by electric guitars and thundering drums without losing the focus of worshipping God.
Songs like Take It All and From the Inside Out will get teens and twentysomethings jumping up and down like pogo sticks, while None But Jesus and The Stand are gentle, slow, and prayerful.
Packaged with the music CD is a bonus DVD that shows United Live performing the songs from the CD in concert, but also includes a fascinating 30-minute documentary on Hillsong Church. Founded in 1983, Hillsong draws more than 17,000 people to its four services in two locations every week in a nation where an estimated 3 percent of the population attends church.
I guess I always wanted a type of church that had a freshness to it, said the Rev. Brian Houston, senior pastor. We always wanted to have lots of young people.
Phil Dooley, Hillsong s youth pastor, says on the DVD: I guess in some ways, our United youth hasn t changed from 10, 15, 20 years ago. It s still about passionate young people doing ridiculously silly things on occasion, and loving God and loving Jesus and loving the church in the process.
The motivation for every gathering of young people at Hillsong? Youth group cannot be boring, one pastor says.
COMICALLY CORRECT: Brad Stine thinks liberals have turned American kids into wusses because of their overprotective regulations on toys, among other things. Mr. Stine, a Christian comedian from Indiana who is quickly making a name in the mainstream comedy world, puts his politically incorrect views into print with his latest book, Live from Middle America: Rants from a Red-State Comedian (Hudson Street Press).
Some comedians material doesn t translate well into the printed word but Mr. Stine s observations on Starbucks and airbags and fur underwear are funny no matter how the punchlines are delivered.
UPBEAT TUNES: The worship team at Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo has released its first CD, a set of 10 original Christian songs with positive messages. The band is called H.L.B. and the CD is titled Songs of Hope: Volume 1.
Produced by Chuck Riepenhoff and Gregg Leonard, Songs of Hope is an upbeat, earnest album that sounds like a throwback to the Jesus movement of the 1970s yet still has a contemporary touch.
DIVING INTO THE WORD: Springtime s here, which means sunshine, boats, beaches, and pools are soon to follow.
If you want to read a Bible without worrying about it getting splashed or soaked, Nelson Bibles has an idea: Immerse: A Water-Resistant New Testament (19.99).
Published in the New Century Version translation, Immerse comes in orange or green with a zip-up closure.
VIDEO BIBLE QUIZ: Jeremy Camp, the singer-songwriter who performed at the Stranahan Theater last month, stars in an unusual role: host of a DVD quiz game called The Bible DVD Game presented by the History Channel.
This video quiz game offers three different skill levels and can be played by 1 to 4 players ages 6 to 106.
Well-designed, easy to use, and challenging, the DVD questions alternate among Bible verses, anagrams, statements that are either for real or no way, and lightning-fast rounds.
Jeremy Camp makes a great celebrity host and even sings a song in this DVD that is fun for families and Sunday School classes.
David Yonke is The Blade s religion editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.