How Spirituality Is Changing In the Digital Age

In the Internet age, data has become increasingly important. Sites like Facebook and Twitter thrive off gathering and distributing specific information about users likes and habits.

But sometimes it's hard to know how data fits into the mission of the Church and individual Christians. How much should we pay attention to Internet trends and the constant stream of information being thrown at us?
We talked with David Kinnaman, the president of Barna Group, about the role of data in ministry, the changing landscape of the Internet era and the hope for millennials in church.

What do you see as the mission of Barna?
To try to help to give people basically current, accurate and affordable information in bite-sized pieces in a timely manner to help them make better decisions. In a lot of ways, we’re driven by the notion that a good leader, a good Christian has to define their reality accurately. This is something Jesus does so well with His disciples and with the people He ministers to: He constantly reframes questions about what’s really at stake. So what we’re trying to do is use research and good analysis to reframe for people what’s really happening, what’s really at stake at the center of these cultural and faith-related questions.

What would you say is really at stake with these questions?
Well, so much. It’s an incredible challenge. The way I would say it right now is that particularly younger Christians are living in what I describe as Digital Babylon. It’s very similar in some ways to the kind of head-snapping change that Daniel and his peers would have experienced in Babylon—exposure to a broader world, immersion in a whole set of worldviews and beliefs and ideas about spirituality, interacting regularly with people with very different points of view, very different perspectives about God, very different perspectives about human meaning and flourishing.
For a lot of millennials, the question of how to live faithfully, how to have a life of conviction in a world that overwhelms and steamrolls conviction and belief is a really pressing question. Good research can point to what’s really happening in our culture—and then with good solid analysis and interpretation of biblical perspective, we can sort of articulate how it is Christians, and particularly younger Christians, can make sense of and lead effectively in that changing world.
There’s nothing new in human nature, there’s nothing new in human identity and the need for a Savior. But what is different is the incredible amount of access that human beings, and particularly millennials, now have. It’s more accelerated, it’s more immersive, it creates a whole reality.

Do you have to deal with criticism that you’re trying to put a program on something that is sort of inherently mysterious and just hard to quantify?
With the rise of a lot of big data and social data through Twitter and Facebook and other places, we’re quickly becoming a more quantified planet, a quantified species. Quantifying spirituality isn’t the end in and of itself. But a lot of churches have very little clarity about the kind of transformation they are actually having in people’s lives. A good research program ought to give real clarity to the kind of transformation that’s actually happening.
Spirituality is an incredibly complex thing to measure, but it can be measured, and there is important work to do there. This is what Barna tries to do in filling some of this gap in thinking through are we actually making a difference with our dollars and our hours and our efforts in helping to change people’s lives? Or is it just like a cool social club?
Now just a quick caveat: as a Christian, as a committed Christ-follower, saying that doesn’t in any way invalidate what Jesus and the Holy Spirit can do in our lives. But for me, it’s the parable of the talents in Matthew, where if we’re given opportunities to influence people and it turns out we are not stewarding that influence well, then we’re accountable to God for that. Good data should give us a clear sense of accountability.

Do you think most churches overestimate the spiritual health and effectiveness of their millennial congregation or underestimate it?
One of the really cool trends we’re beginning to see is that among millennials who are born-again Christians, they’re actually more likely to be evangelistic—that is, share their faith with others—than is true of Boomer born-again Christians.
I actually believe there’s something of a millennial counter-trend based on the data that is happening which is among these Christians. They’re really turning to their faith more than ever to find meaning, purpose, community, a sense of mission in the world. It’s a positive, powerful trend.
Millennial born-agains are actually showing incredible signs of kind of counter-trend behavior, which often goes under the radar because in fact the millennial generation, as a generation, is more post-Christian. There’s a lot of disconnection and a lot of disillusionment with the church.
It’s easy to miss the signs because you can either be looking for reasons for optimism or reasons for pessimism, and you can find both. Having a more complete picture, where both of those realities can be true, is really hard for most church leaders to come to. Church leaders ought to be both incredibly concerned about the trajectory of this millennial generation and wildly optimistic about the hope for the Gospel that’s being expressed through these young Christians.

What would you say to somebody who feels called by God to do something, but the data would suggest it’s not going to be effective right now?
The data should always be a tool concerning our calling. It should never be the final authority in anyone’s decision. Our data—first of all, it rarely proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that any particular course of action, any particular calling would be a complete waste of time.
This is why being a theologically oriented research company matters. I would never suggest that what we’re trying to do is create a mass-production approach to discipleship. I think, in some cases, we’re called to be more faithful and not necessarily more productive as disciplers.
I don’t think God calls us necessarily to try to convert the world individually. He asks the Church to do that, but that’s not the job of each individual Christian to do that. So just because our data says a particular kind of thing doesn’t work or doesn’t work as well, it doesn’t mean that people should not go down that path. But it also means that if there’s a sort of a blind rejection of the data, then there’s a matter of stewardship that comes with it. Find a way of making sense of the data and using what wisdom was provided through it to become the kind of called Christian you’re meant to be. That’s the way I would sort of hold both of these things in tension.

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How to Worship When You Don’t Feel Like It

I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned,” you sing along with the worship leader. You try to stir yourself up to worship, closing your eyes and maybe even lifting your hands, but to be honest, you’re just not feeling it.

For many of us, worship is one of the key elements in our relationship and response to God. The majority of our church services have times of corporate sung worship, our music collections are saturated with worship albums, and people often know Bible verses not from reading the Scripture but from singing the words. This is, of course, a good thing. Worship is from God, and it is right that we offer songs of praise to Him.
However, with worship playing such a big role in shaping our faith, what happens in those times when we don't feel like worshiping? What happens when you desperately try to engage with worship but nothing seems to happen? When there is no connection, no response, no affirmation that your worship is going somewhere?
Here are five small steps to help you reengage with worship and meet with God afresh.

1. Remember That Worship Isn't About How You Feel.

The Westminster Catechism puts it perfectly: "Man's chief aim is to glorify God." At the end of the day, worship isn't about how we feel. There is no doubt that worship does provoke an emotional response in us, and that is a good thing. We can find ourselves overwhelmed at the love of the Savior, comforted in times of need or reassured when the path seems dark.
At the end of the day, worship isn't about how we feel.
But these responses are not the purpose of worship. The reason we worship is to give God the glory and honor He deserves. We love because He first loved us, and we worship because He deserves the praise.
The minute we start to enter into worship with our own agendas and our own wish lists is the minute we begin to miss the point. We lift our voices to God in recognition of who He is. Often God blesses us by responding to us and meeting with us in that place—but that is never the primary reason. If you're struggling to engage in worship, remember why you are doing it.

2. Try Different Styles of Worship.

Worship has become a bit of a buzzword in the Church and has come to signify musical response—and that does form a big part of it. But worship doesn't only come with a guitar and stage lights.
If you are finding that you aren't engaging with your regular pattern of worship, try something different. Listen to some older songs or songs from a completely different genre. Try worshiping in a completely different way—through art, dance, writing or whatever you enjoy.
Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. David danced naked before the Lord—and while that's not necessarily the most appropriate model to follow, his reckless abandon to worship his God is a powerful challenge to us to lose our inhibitions and worship in whatever way we feel led.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Stand in it and Let it Surround You.

One of the most beautiful aspects of congregational worship is that it lifts many voices up in one song to one Savior. Communities gather together to proclaim the same truths about God and push into His presence together.
But there is no rule that says you have to be singing all the words to be worshiping. Sometimes, just resting and abiding in the moment is just as (if not more) powerful. Standing in the middle of a sea of voices praising God can be incredibly moving and poignant. Sometimes with worship, less is more—don't be afraid to take a step back to listen.

4. Find a Rhythm of Worship That Goes Through Your Week.

One of the big downsides of the way the modern church culture has developed is the way worship has become associated with Sundays only. Worship gets slotted in at the beginning and end of our services. We schedule it in for specific times.
Worship is something that should be weaved into everything we do in our lives. Each part of our day should be soaked in worship.
But worship is something that should be weaved into everything we do in our lives. Each part of our day should be soaked in worship. That doesn't mean we're spending our days singing, but that everything we do is done against a backdrop of wanting to glorify God.

Matt Redman, when asked recently in an edition of RELEVANT what he would say to people who don't feel the joy of worship, put it beautifully: "You can’t breathe out till you’ve breathed in." Breathe in God's love regularly. Pray. Spend time in His presence. Then breathe out through worship.

5. Do it Anyway.

Sometimes, nothing beats crying out in worship when you feel least like doing it. There's power in persistence and perseverance, and God recognizes when we are worshiping despite our desire not to.
God's love is the same no matter how we feel, and our response to Him doesn't depend on our emotional engagement. God is love, God is good—and those are permanent truths. Proclaiming those things can help us to worship when we don't feel like it, and bring us back to a place of thanksgiving and wonder at the vast love God has for us.


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What Inspires Passionate Authentic Worship? (An Interview with Ben Fielding of Hillsong Worship)

As well as being a writer of the modern worship classics “Mighty to Save” and “God Is Able” (amongst others), Ben Fielding is an integral part of the Hillsong worship team. He took a few moments to reflect on leading worship and give his thoughts on the Hillsong LIVE release, Glorious Ruins.

You have said that you aren’t trying to make one record “better” than the last. So what is your standard for knowing you have succeeded when you have finished a new album?

Worship exists to glorify God. Excellence glorifies an excellent God. The purpose of Hillsong LIVE is to empower worshipers to worship. The songs on Glorious Ruins have been sung across our church globally. From Sydney, through London, Kiev to New York City, these songs have already resonated with thousands of believers, across culture and demographic. The success of Glorious Ruins will be determined by its ability to inspire the kind of passionate and authentic worship that we have already seen right across our church.

The title of Hillsong’s new release is Glorious Ruins. We are all pretty aware how ruins are a difficulty in life that we all encounter; in what way can ruins be something we celebrate?

The story of God is a story of restoration. We find ourselves somewhere in the middle of that story. God, having made all things beautiful, now works in and through us, restoring all things back to that place. What is often declared hopeless, ruined and of no value, is fertile ground for God’s grace and love. From that place, the ruins speak no longer of destitution rather becoming testimony to the glory of God. That is the story of every Christian; it is the story of the people of God; the Church; and it is the hope that awaits all who are yet to encounter Jesus.

The songs of this album speak to that reality; of the sufficiency of Christ (“Christ Is Enough”); the hope we have in God’s promise as an anchor for the soul (“Anchor”); showed most clearly through the death and resurrection of Jesus (“Man of Sorrows”) and tied together in the title track “Glorious Ruins.”

We are seeing that many worship teams in this country are looking to make a worship CD that is filled with the prayers of a local community; what are some good practices when looking to take on such a task? What encouragement do you have for worship leaders attempting such a task?

Songs are always more powerful when they carry personal meaning. The task of every songwriter is to give expression to something real and authentic. Church songwriters have the additional task of ensuring that this personal expression connects with a vast collection of people. We are placing words in the mouths of the Church, so we must write words that are both true and are the very sort of words that our churches have always wanted to sing. We become poets, enabling our churches to say the things they have always wanted to say about and to God, in a way that resonates as if they were singing their own words. There must be an authenticity about our worship. Worship songs exist for the glory of God. It follows that a worship album must exist for the same purpose. We must be careful that in our attempt to be creative we do not neglect the Creator. Songs for our churches must glorify Jesus and should seek to serve the people of our churches. Before setting out to record any album, we need to once again ask what the purpose of doing so is; and then to ensure that this never detracts from the primary task of empowering our church to worship.

Hillsong’s music is designed for a local community, yet it impacts churches around the globe. What is the core of what you do? What is the music of Hillsong and your worship ministry built on?

(In addition to what’s above). Hillsong is a local church. Our church and the worship that flows from it, is built on the name and authority of Jesus and the sacrifice of many faithful people who have taken up their part in his story. The songs that are heard on Hillsong albums are the songs that we sing each week across our church. In that sense, they are tried and tested, giving voice to that which is authentic and relevant. I can’t imagine a day where we no longer feel there is need for a new song, a new way of communicating who God is and what he is doing.

What songs on the new record are blessing your church already/which songs are you particularly excited about?

All of the songs on this record have been tried and tested in our church. They have all played their part in the story.

Every time we sing “Man of Sorrows,” our church cheers as we sing “see the stone us rolled away, behold the empty tomb.” “Man of Sorrows” is one of those incredible songs that will engage our church no matter where it is sung.

“Christ Is Enough” is a song that speaks to the sufficiency of Jesus that demands our response. The first time we sung “Christ Is Enough,” our church sung it as though they had been singing it for years. We have been doing “I have decided” moments in church over the past couple of months, inspired by this song, where someone shares their story of how they came to follow Jesus. It has been so inspiring. (Get the chord chart for “Christ Is Enough” here.)

“Anchor” was written from Hebrews 6. It speaks to the hope that we have in the promise of God. A promise that was sealed with an oath, sworn by the highest name of all, Jesus. This hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. I wrote this song with my good friend Dean Ussher. He and his wife suffered the tragedy of a miscarriage earlier in the year and held onto Hebrews 6 as hope beyond the pain and loss that seemed so overwhelming. The confession of this song is that through Jesus, God has made good on His promise, bringing hope that surpasses all understanding. No matter what we are facing, we can declare that His name is higher, His word is unfailing and His promise is unshakable.

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Album Review: Hillsong Young and Free's This Is Living EP

Acclaimed for their ‘very different’ and energetic style in worship, Australia’s Hillsong Young and Free exist to win and lead the younger generation for Jesus with their electronic dance music (EDM). Led by Laura Toggs, daughter of Hillsong’s Senior Pastor, Hillsong Young and Free appeared in the scene in 2013 with their “We Are Young And Free” album—a record that saw two no.1 Christian Hits “Alive” and “Wake”. The album debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Christian chart as well as on the Praise and Worship chart. Far from Hillsong Worship and Hillsong United’s anthemic, pop-rock sound; Young and Free’s music is more on synths, electronic effects and swirling beats, which are attractive to the young folks.

Early this year, Hillsong Young and Free kicked off with a new EP “This Is Living”, featuring five tracks—three new (“This Is Living”, “Energy” and “Pursue”), one acoustic version, and a re-release from their debut record.

The title cut “This Is Living” is a collaboration with Christian hip hop artist Lecrae. Infused with energy and electronic dance vibe, this catchy track is pretty interesting and something that’s not heard much of in Christian music scene. The bouncy dance beats and swirling synths make the song alive.

Sung by Melody Wagner, “Energy”, the second track, is one built on massive electronic-synth foundation. Its title speaks for itself. It is the EP’s ultimate dance song, while “Pursue” is worship in dynamic instrumentation. Unlike the aforementioned cuts, this one is less in synths—just fair enough to make the song alive.

Making the electronic vibes completely absent, the acoustic version of “This Is Living” is a very good rest from the ear-tickling EDM. The melodious piano line is a cushion that stretches through the album conclusion, which is the reprise of “Sinking Deep” from their debut album.

Overall, “This Is Living” EP is a very delicious foretaste to Hillsong Young and Free’s upcoming releases; and I know greater things lie ahead for this group as they make the praise of God glorious for all ages.

Rating: 4.9/5

Disclosure: A review copy of This Is Living was provided for review by House of Praise, from whom you may purchase the album.

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Event: Hillsong Worship Live In Manila

Hillsong Worship Live in Manila
Known for their God glorifying praise and worship songs! Hillsong Worship Live in Manila on April 10, 8pm at Mall of Asia Arena.
Hillsong Worship (formerly known as Hillsong Live) is a combination of worship leaders from multiple campuses of the Hillsong Church featuring Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Ben Fielding, David Ware, and Annie Garratt. For the last few decades, there songs have impacted many churches globally.
Their albums have been a mainstream log for worship pastors around the world. Some of biggest album includes: “All Things Are Possible (1997)”, “You Are My World (2001)”, “For All You’ve Done (2004)”, “God He Reigns (2005)”, “Might To Save (2006)”, “This Is Our God (2008)”, “The Beautiful Exchange (2010)”, “God Is Able (2011)”, “Cornerstone (2012)”, “Glorious Ruins (2013)”, “No Other Name (2014)” and many more.
“Mighty to Save” won the Gospel Music Association’s (USA) Dove Award for Worship Song of the Year in 2009. The same song received an ASCAP, Christian Music award in 2009 along with worship leader’s magazine’s Song of the Year for 2007.
Don’t miss this much-awaited event happens at the Mall of Asia Arena on April 10 (Friday) at 8:00PM!
Tickets are now available!

VIP (reserved seating) P 2500
Patron (reserved seating)   P 2000
Lowerbox A (reserved seating) P 1500
Lowerbox B (reserved seating) P 1200
Upperbox (free seating) P   600
Gen Ad (free seating) P   300

For inquiries, call SM Tickets, 470-2222 or Becca Music Tickets 910-5524.

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Album Review: Radical Love by Victory Worship

Victory Worship’s “Radical Love” was released worldwide months ago through iTunes, in the Philippines via House of Praise; and I know for sure its songs are now being enjoyed, sung, and used by churches, musicians, music geeks, and believers not only here in the Philippines but also abroad. Now, for those who haven’t grabbed a copy yet, in this review, I’m gonna tell you why you should go now and do so, because you’re missing a lot!

Comprising 11 tracks, “Radical Love” is Victory Worship’s debut album and it is simply astounding. What I love most about it, is, it is from a Filipino Worship Band! The first song that I heard from it was the title track. It was being played at Saved Radio, and I was curious who the artist was because it’s new to my ears and it caught my attention. I was thinking of a foreign band, but in my surprise, it was from a Filipino artist (don’t get me wrong).

Radical Love is by far the best Filipino worship album I’ve ever encountered. Mixed in Tennessee, there is no doubt the songs from this album are very good in quality. They are all crisp and clear, which makes them soothing to the ears. It’s indeed, a world-class album, and a breakthrough in Filipino Christian music industry.

The best part of the album is the content of the songs. All of the tracks are brilliant—there are no album fillers. Songs are beautifully written
theologically rich, and musically brilliant. My favourite cuts are “Radical Love”, “Grace Changes Everything”, and “Jesus My Savior”. These songs are the heart of the album. Worth-mentioning are the album artists. Each lead singer has justified the message of the song(s) they sung, and they should be commended for which.

Overall, Victory Worship’s “Radical Love” warms my heart and makes me proud as a Filipino. And as I have mentioned earlier it is the best Filipino worship album yet. This just reminds me to give the excellent to the Lord for He is an excellent God. Again, if you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, get now! Available worldwide via iTunes, but I recommend you to get the physical copy, available at House of Praise outlets in the Philippines.

Visit to know more about this group.

Disclosure: A review copy of Radical Love was provided for review by House of Praise, from whom you may purchase the album.

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