Cracking the Case
Cracking the Case
Francis MacNutt tracks down the culprits who nearly killed healing ministry.
Somehow, the church reached a point at which divine healing became the exception, not the rule. In his latest book, 80-year-old charismatic pioneer Francis MacNutt is on a mission to explore-and ultimately reverse-this trend.
The Nearly Perfect Crime: How the Church Almost Killed the Ministry of Healing is a swift, but thorough, survey of healing in the New Testament and in the centuries following.
MacNutt takes time to show how and why the dissipation of such an important gift could occur. (It is important to note that the book is not solely focused on the charism of healing; deliverance ministry is featured as well. MacNutt sees them as closely joined. He calls them “partners” and “twins.”)
Recently, Ministries Today sat down with MacNutt at the offices of his Christian Healing Ministries (CHM) in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I wrote the book to clear away misconceptions,” MacNutt explains, “People don't realize where a lot of their opposition to healing, and skepticism, comes from.” Among the many contributing factors to the derailing of the healing ministry were: the pagan influences after Constantine, a shift from ordinary Christians praying for their neighbors to saints being affirmed by miracles and the blending of political interests with the ecclesiastical.
MacNutt also points to rationalism, dispensationalism and the ideas of Rudolph Bultmann, a 20th-century theologian, whose attempts to demythologize the Scriptures almost finished off expectations of healing.
Though MacNutt asserts that a “crime” was committed, he is not quick to press charges. He charitably concludes that most of the “wrecking of the healing ministry” across the centuries was done by “good people who were concerned about abuses.”
He cites John Calvin as an exam-ple. He says it is likely that the claims of healing Calvin heard about were at shrines, where there was often shameless merchandising present. If the author is right, Calvin's cessationism may have been largely a reaction to such abuses.
But, MacNutt says his book is not just an apologetic for the unconvinced. While he applauds the great restorative aspects of the Pentecostal, charismatic and Third Wave movements, MacNutt also wonders if the tenderness of God in healing is always in focus.
“There's a signs-and-wonders aspect to healing,” he notes. “But, that's not the main emphasis. The main motive of healing is God's love and His compassion for people.”
Since the former Roman Catholic priest was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the 1960s, he has felt compelled to share love, compassion and healing with thousands around the globe.
For MacNutt, seminars and crusades, however, are not the primary venues for healing. Churches and believers' homes are also in the mix.
“I see an advantage to each. I've prayed for up to 50,000 people at once,” he says. “But, our concern here [in Jacksonville] is to help each and every person that comes. The percentage that we are able to help is way up there because we are able to take time.”
MacNutt makes the case that much healing ministry takes time, and at CHM, time is taken to listen to the hurting, and healing prayers are not rushed. “Most of what we see is inner healing, although we see a lot of physical, too,” he says. “A lot of this stuff is not simple.”
For example, MacNutt suggests that an obese person with an ankle injury may discover that there is a spiritual or psychological difficulty driving the compulsion to eat, thereby causing various injuries to the body. MacNutt's solution? Pray for the inner healing as well as the ankle.
Documenting evidence is yet another way he has strived to make healing desirable and credible. CHM offers a video presentation of a medical study that utilized MacNutt's teaching and his team's praying. Of 40 rheumatoid arthritis patients participating, four were completely healed and many were significantly helped.
They know healing is for today.
The first thing you need to know about George Barna's new book is that it is going to make some people very uncomfortable. Revolution is a short, fact-saturated treatment on emerging trends that will shape the future of the church-both the body of Christ in the world and the local group of believers.
Barna, the recognized leader in analyzing the trends that most concern followers of Christ, heralds the dawn of a new age, the “Revolutionary Age.” In this age, Barna foresees that believers, who have become disenfranchised by the local church, will leave to find new, alternative communities to express their faith and grow.
He also envisions believers creating their own patchwork “church” of the individual from a variety of sources and experiences, such as independent worship events (think Passion conferences) and media (think cyber churches).
Where most texts on this subject merely hijack revolutionary vocabulary, what is presented here is a genuinely revolutionary message. It succeeds because Barna is willing to make hamburger of certain sacred cows. Our most deeply held convictions, for example, the primacy of the local church in spiritual transformation, are called into question.
This idea is explored by comparing the “state of the church” with the biblical account of early believers-and the modern church isn't stacking up well.
Only 9 percent of all born-again adults have a biblical worldview; a typical churchgoer will die without having led a single person to Christ; divorce statistics are equal for churched and unchurched couples; and half of all believers say they have not experienced a genuine connection with God during the last year! These indicators lead Barna to reach the conclusion: “If the local church is the hope of the world, then the world has no hope.”
The author correctly predicts this view will be labeled as blasphemy by some, but explains these changes will occur. Our choice is how we deal with them.
It's not just a research paper. The book challenges the reader to embrace and utilize these trends-to become a revolutionary.
Read it slowly, with a notepad and an open mind.
Destry J. Dobbs
The Threshing Floor: How to Know Without a Doubt God Hears Your Every Prayer (Charisma House)
In Juanita Bynum's much-anticipated The Threshing Floor, the best-selling author reveals the process by which Christians can become effective intercessors.
A well-known Bible teacher, Bynum feels that prayer, not teaching, has always been her ultimate calling. She urges every believer to join with her to learn what it means to have the ear of God and His favor, changing lives and nations through intercession.
Just as farmers in biblical times threshed wheat to get rid of impurities, purification is necessary in the life of the believer, she explains-especially in those who want to move beyond the selfish “give me” prayers many Christians habitually pray.
Setting her sights on this kind of maturity, Bynum reveals the step-by-step process by which believers can purify themselves to come into God's presence-with parallels to the cleansing rituals the high priests had to undergo to enter the Most Holy Place in the Old Testament tabernacle-so that their prayers in accordance with God's will are guaranteed to be answered.
Bynum also discusses the place of feelings in prayer, admitting that learning to pray has been difficult for her because society teaches that to be mature, feelings must be suppressed. On the contrary, prayer affords an opportunity for the believer to pour out his or her heart before God, Bynum writes, for it is in prayer that pent-up emotions can be released, allowing God's presence to fill the emptiness of the soul.
Casting her net wide, Bynum encourages all believers in every walk of life, whether they consider themselves “religious” or not, to learn and put into practice the simple principles of prayer as laid out in Scripture. The excitement Bynum brings to this subject comes through even as she emphasizes that there is no shortcut for the believer seeking to enter God's presence. Would-be intercessors reading The Threshing Floor will be challenged to fulfill the requirements God has put in place in order to see life-changing, kingdom results.
Christine D. Johnson
Faith of My Fathers: Conversations With Three Generations of Pastors About Church, Ministry, and Culture (Zondervan)
Do yourself a favor: Ignore the title. Force yourself to at least read the first chapter. That's what I did and found myself against all logic continually moved with emotion. Chris Seay, along with his brother, Robbie, sat down for an extended conversation with their father and grandfather. All four are “career” ministers with very different philosophies of ministry.
This book is nothing more than a transcript of that conversation, raw and mostly unedited. It is insightful, honest and a must-read for anyone who wrestles with the ongoing tension between church and culture. “Papa” definitely steals the show.
Should you buy the book? You'll know the answer to that after reading chapter one.
The Shepherd's Covenant for Pastors (Regal)
Mentoring is “in” these days. Pastors long to be coached toward personal and professional success.
The Shepherd's Covenant for Pastors by H.B. London and Neil B. Wiseman argues for hope with a mentoring flavor for today's ministry leaders. The pages instruct ministers with five principles of remaining true to God's GRACE: Genuine Accountability, Right Relationships, A Servant-Shepherd's Heart, Constant Safeguards, Embrace God Intimately.
London and Wiseman discuss spiritual change-agents, excuses, priorities, risks, burnout, tending to the flock, the power of the Spirit and retaining freshness.
Examples of achievement and a series of exercises guide shepherds toward still waters and true success.
The Revelation of God and His Word (Creation House Press)
Who would enjoy making a car trip from New York to California if all they had were hundreds of pieces of paper containing directions? Even if all the pieces contained correct information, it would be exasperating.
Yet, that is analogous to the type of spiritual journey many have had to make-countless sermons, books, teachings and songs but no sense of how it all fits together.
Veteran pastor Charles Green has attempted to provide a comprehensive “map” of the Christian faith with his new book, The Revelation of God and His Word. Green presents his teaching first chronologically (the Old Testament scriptures), then doctrinally (Jesus, His church, and its beliefs and practices).
Most appreciated is Green's irenic tone. For example, when he says about himself: “The author does not claim-nor does he believe-that his doctrine is the only way to heaven.”
When God Speaks: How to Interpret Dreams, Visions, Signs and Wonders (Regal)
If you really want to test your understanding of any subject, try explaining it to a child.
Take, for example, the often-enigmatic process of hearing and recognizing the voice of God. Most adults couldn't explain this mystery to one another, much less a child.
However, When God Speaks by Chuck D. Pierce and Rebecca Wagner Sytsema makes a valiant effort toward “demystifying” this subject.
For critical thinkers, the authors' attempt to establish a broad and far-reaching definition of prophecy will give you plenty to mull over as you compare it to those things that are directly spelled out in Scripture.
And for those interested in dreams, visions, signs and wonders, there's an interesting guide with a list of symbols and suggested meanings included in the appendix.
No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come As You Are Culture in the Church (Zondervan)
No Perfect People Allowed is a fresh, readable account of a church so biblical in its focus, it sounds almost subversive. It's a rare text in that it tells us what to do about postmodernism, instead of just describing it.
Also, it answers questions ministers usually hope we aren't asked. (i.e. How do you feel about homosexuals?)
John Burke has really done his homework here. The quality of instruction bears that out, but the most powerful ingredients are the stories. They carry you on a journey that compels you and inspires you to radical love for broken people.
Destry J. Dobbs
The Spirit-Filled Small Group: Leading Your Group to Experience the Spiritual Gifts (Chosen)
Joel Comiskey has authored 13 books, many dealing with the worldwide cell-group movement. His latest, The Spirit-Filled Small Group, primarily written for small-group leaders and members, challenges readers to embrace the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in their meetings.
Practical steps are given on how to prepare for and follow the Spirit's leading, as well as ways to encourage each member to identify and use their spiritual gifts. A brief synopsis of each of the gifts of the Spirit is included in the book.
At first the book seems almost simple. But throughout the book, Comiskey continues to build a strong case for the necessity of Spirit-filled small-group ministry, revisiting the New Testament church, where members met in homes and the gifts of the Holy Spirit were in operation. In the current quest to find the newest “wave” of church-growth strategies, these essential truths can easily be overlooked and need to be recognized.
Noticeably missing, by the author's own admission, are topics such as leadership training and small-group dynamics. (Comiskey addresses these in some of his other books.)
Although more might have been included regarding safeguards to avoid excesses and to maintain balance in a small-group setting, this book inspires the reader to reach for the highest spiritual goals in small-group ministry.
Angela R. Munizzi
Two Views on Women in Ministry (Zondervan)
Linda L. Belleville, Craig L. Blomberg, Craig S. Keener and Thomas R. Schreiner agreeing to disagree isn't easy. Especially when a spiritual debate includes years of conflict. Arguments regarding women in ministry fit that category.
In a revised version of 2001's Two Views on Women in Ministry, editors Stanley N. Gundry and James R. Beck cover both sides of the question.
All contributors are evangelical scholars. And using clear reasoning, their essays and arguments merge differing views with a desire for unity.
Will denominations and leaders who oppose the egalitarian perspective consider the possibility of being incorrect? Maybe not. Gender equality in ministry leadership is likely to remain a debate. Leaders can, though, gain a better grasp of both perspectives through these pages.
How to Minister Freedom: Helping Others Break the Bonds
of Sexual Brokenness, Emotional Woundedness, Demonic Oppression, Occult Bondage (Regal)
In How to Minister Freedom, general editor Doris M. Wagner brings her expertise and that of other contributing ministers, including Cindy Jacobs and Chuck D. Pierce, to reveal four critical areas in which many Christians often struggle to be free.
Wagner begins by explaining the influence of demons upon the church and establishing our authority over demonic power through Christ.
The remainder explains the roots behind sexual, emotional and occult bondage and delves into the basic steps toward receiving freedom.
While this book may be a disappointment for someone seeking an in-depth explanation of demonic influence and deliverance sessions, it does provide a detailed reference guide for beginning ministry in these areas.
Sarah J. Cobb
Effective First-Person Biblical Preaching: The Steps From Text to Narrative Sermon (Zondervan)
Effective First-Person Biblical Preaching by J. Kent Edwards is a manual for developing a narrative presentation for a given scriptural passage. It may be a useful tool for the pastor who wants to make his messages more engaging.
There's no question that story is a very potent tool for communicating a text. Still, this book may not be for everyone. Many speakers may feel unequal to the task, even given the author's step-by-step preparation and delivery details.
The pace suggests the book should go on about a 30-page diet, but, in fairness, the topic requires certain thoroughness.
Included along with the book is a CD-ROM video demonstration of an example narrative sermon.
Destry J. Dobbs
The Complete Worship Service: Creating a Taste of Heaven on Earth (Baker)
Worship artist and pastor Kevin J. Navarro walks us through the complete worship service in this step-by-step guide. From desire to experience, Navarro has given pastors, worship leaders and church leaders alike a useful tool in developing a taste of God's kingdom for their churches and communities. He directs us through each element of the dynamic worship service, including hospitality, marketing, presentation and music selection.
The book discusses the quality of the worship service as a whole, not just the songs we sing. As Navarro closes out the last chapter he makes a comment that must be taken to heart: “People are not just looking to be entertained. They are looking for life. They are looking for hope. They are looking for Jesus.”
The crafting of a complete worship service is not about putting on a good show. It is about creating an atmosphere, a taste of heaven, a place where people can find life.
Andrew K. Forman
Best-Seller List Top 25 books
1. Love & respect
Emerson Eggerichs (Integrity)
2. Voices of the Faithful
Beth Moore (Integrity)
John and Stasi Eldredge (Nelson Books)
4. Lose it for life
Stephen Arterburn, Linda Mintle (Integrity)
5. Standard Lesson Commentary-KJV
6.Your Best Life Now
Joel Osteen (Warner Faith)
7. Letters From Dad
Greg Vaughn (Integrity)
8. The five love languages
Gary Chapman (Northfield)
Karen Kingsbury (Tyndale House)
Carrie McDonnall, Kristen Billerbeck (Integrity)
11.The Purpose-Driven Life
Rick Warren (Zondervan)
12.Every Young Woman's Battle
Shannon Ethridge, Stephen Arterburn (WaterBrook)
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Tim Grissom (Moody)
14.It's Not About Me
Max Lucado (Integrity)
15.For women only
Shaunti Feldhahn (Multnomah)
16.Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
Joanna Weaver (WaterBrook)
17.The Right Thing
Scott Waddle, Ken Abraham (Integrity)
18.Wild at Hear
John Eldredge (Nelson Books)
19.How Full is your Bucket?
Tom Rath, Donald Clifton (Gallup Press)
20. Ivan and the Informer
Myrna Grant (Christian Focus Publications)
21.The Power of a Praying Wife
Stormie Omartian (Harvest House)
22. Blue Like Jazz
Donald Miller (Nelson Books)
23. Rediscovering The Kingdom
Myles Munroe (Destiny Image)
24. Battlefield of the Mind
Joyce Meyer (Warner Faith)
Randy Alcorn (Tyndale House)
Compiled from The Top 100 Books list in the October 3, 2005, issue of Christian Retailing magazine. List based on distributor sales for English-language books in the United States and Canada for August 1-15, 2005. Copyright © 2005 Strang Communications. All rights reserved.
Don't miss these new titles on leadership, evangelism and urban ministry.
Leadership Next: Changing Leaders in a Changing Culture (InterVarsity)
Veteran church-growth expert Eddie Gibbs writes to current and emerging church leaders about what they need to be equipped in light of new global realities and new styles of leadership.
The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham (Zondervan)
Authors Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley delve into Billy Graham's life experiences, and share 21 essential leadership principles for today's leaders in church, parachurch, academia, government and business.
Practitioners: Voices Within the Emerging Church (Regal)
With the input of some of today's emerging church leaders such as Chris Seay, Pete Greig, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Craig Detweiler, David Ruis, and Jamie and Jeremy Wells, in a unique dialogue format, general editors Greg Russinger and Alex Field explore the topics of postmodernism, missionality, community, worship, justice and engaging culture.
A Place for Skeptics: A Spiritual Journey for Those Who May Have Given Up on Church but Not on God (Regal)
Written in a 30-day format (rooted in the Apostles' Creed), authors Scott Larson and Chris Mitchell tackle 30 tough questions that the church-wary but spiritually curious might ask, such as “What good is a God who doesn't show up when I need Him?”
God Is at Work: How God Is Transforming People and Nations Through Business (Regal)
Ken Eldred offers an unprecedented look at an emerging missions movement in which Christian businesspersons are meeting both spiritual and economic needs in developing nations through business ventures.
Bringing Your Faith to Work: Answers for Break-Room Skeptics (Baker)
Apologist Norman L. Geisler and marketplace minister Randy Douglas team up to provide on-the-job evangelists with resources for convincing their secular colleagues of the veracity of the gospel-from the challenges of pluralism to the reliability of the Bible and the reality of miracles.
Urban Ministry in a New Millennium (Authentic Media, in partnership with World Vision Resources)
Pastor and former university instructor David Claerbaut addresses the role Christian ministry plays in shaping and developing today's urban cities, highlighting realistic ministry models for urban workers.
Renewing the City: Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal (InterVarsity)
Taking his cues from Nehemiah, the original “urban developer,” Robert D. Lupton, community developer and urban activist, shares why the book of Nehemiah serves as an example for our day in the areas of community transformation and renewal.
The Lion's Share
Six books explore the theology and imagery of Lewis' classic series.
December 9 marks the long-awaited, big-screen debut of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, distributed by Walt Disney Studios in agreement with Walden Media.
The Narnia book series has sold 85 million copies (in 29 languages), second only to the Harry Potter series for lifetime sales.
With the flurry of anticipation surrounding the movie debut, many Christian publishers have responded with C.S. Lewis- and Narnia-related book titles. Useful as resources for possible Narnia-themed sermons or sermon series, here is a selection of just some of the many titles you can find on bookstore shelves:
1. Beyond the Shadowlands: C.S. Lewis on Heaven & Hell (Crossway).
Lewis scholar Wayne Martindale discusses the vivid images of heaven and hell Lewis uses in his fiction, using the images as a complement to a scholarly but accessible discussion on eternity.
2. Aslan's Call: Finding Our Way to Narnia (InterVarsity).
Mark Eddy Smith takes the reader on a journey through Narnia, an intriguing place where in the children who travel there we find ourselves; in Aslan we find Christ; and in the place of Narnia we find the very adventure for which God made us.
3. Finding God in the Land of Narnia (Tyndale).
Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware, best-selling authors of Finding God in The Lord of the Rings, take the reader on a guided tour through Lewis' imaginary world of Narnia, pointing out along the way the many connections to our faith.
4. Inside Narnia: A Guide to Exploring the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Baker).
C.S. Lewis expert Devin Brown takes a detailed chapter-by-chapter look at The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, uncovering fascinating symbols, hidden meanings, and some of the easily missed details that swirl in and around Lewis' famous story.
5. The Soul of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Cook).
Author Gene Veith not only shares why and how C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles, but he delves into the back story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe's allegory so the reader or the moviegoer gets a handle on the story's rich symbolism and redemptive themes.
6. The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Zondervan).
Alan Jacobs explores what it was that made an Oxford don adopt the medium of children's literature to communicate eternal truths.
Since his departure from Sonicflood, Jeff Deyo has become one of the leading voices in modern praise and worship music.
His latest release, Surrender, was recorded live in New Zealand during this year's Parachute Conference and is a collection of new and previously recorded songs.
Deyo's penchant for creating fresh arrangements of popular worship songs continues on with his rocked-out version of “We Are Hungry”-recorded on Passion's 2000 release, The Road to OneDay-and Paul Oakley's “Be Lifted Up.”
Favorites such as “You Are Good” and “Let It Flow” have been added as well, bringing some familiarity to the album.
As Deyo's unashamed anthems of devotion continue to draw listeners, it will only be a matter of time before we're all singing “Jesus, I Surrender.”
The Faith Life Alvin Slaughter
New York based praise and worship leader Alvin Slaughter got his start with the popular Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in the early '90s. Since then the solo artist has received Stellar- and Dove-Award nominations and is a frequent guest on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
Now dropping his seventh project, The Faith Life, Slaughter delivers what he's known for-a dynamic live praise and worship experience.
Memorable songs include the praise-filled “My Joy,” the solemn “Worshippers” and the riveting “Sacrifice of Praise.”
Providing the perfect collection of songs for your personal worship time, “Launch Out” and “When I Praise” are reflective songs.
Although simple songs, “Wave of My Anointing (Fresh Wind)” and “Anything” work well for praise teams and small ensembles.
Slaughter reveals his sincere heart for God with the moving tracks “Lord I Run to You” and “The Latter Rain.”
Bart Millard's Hymned No. 1
Usually when people hear of an album based solely on hymns, their initial reaction might be less enthusiastic than to one with more modern worship songs.
But on his new solo album, Hymned No. 1, MercyMe lead vocalist Bart Millard does a good job at musically translating many classics into more modern, ear-catching tracks.
Though the bluegrass and country tone set throughout the album might still limit its appeal to certain listeners, many people will still be able to appreciate this project that records the hymns Millard's grandma sang to him as a child. Country singer Vince Gill even stops by to lend a voice to “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.”
Worship leaders might find it difficult to use such tracks regularly for Sunday worship, but many people would no doubt love to hear a special presentation of any number of these songs live, possibly during an offertory or another transitional segment of the church service.
John Stanko III
All Day: The William Murphy Project
William Murphy turned the music world upside down with his gospel mega-hit (recorded with Shekinah Glory Ministry) “Praise Is What I Do.”
Sung in choir stands nationally, the tune became an anthem and put the senior minister of worship at Bishop Eddie Long's renowned New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., on the map.
On Murphy's major label debut and live worship project, All Day, he presents powerful worship songs such as “Created to Worship,” “I Know Why I Am Here” and “Ignite My Fire,” all perfect praise-team songs for the worship moment.
Other favorites will certainly be the old-time church cut “Hear My Prayer,” the worship-drenched “One Pure and Holy Passion,” the amazingly inspiring “Be Strong” and a stripped down, yet powerful, rendition of his hit “Praise Is What I Do.”
Murphy provides high praise on the tracks “Good” and “Awesome.”
Covering the well-known praise song “Let It Rise,” he also provides the neo-soul-flavored “I Don't Know Why” and the urban-vibed title tune “All Day.”
Blessed Be Your Name: The Songs of Matt Redman Vol. 1
Matt Redman (sixstepsrecords)
British worship artist Matt Redman takes the most familiar songs from his first five albums and offers them in a new way on his first best-of compilation.
With this live recording, we're able to hear how smoothly songs such as “Once Again” and “Let My Words Be Few” can flow in a worship service.
Redman's music has been recorded by well-known artists such as Michael W. Smith and Rebecca St. James, but there is something about listening to the writer's interpretation of his own music in a live worship setting that brings this CD to life. As one of the most prolific songwriters of current worship music, Matt Redman keeps the bar high with Blessed Be Your Name.
World Through Your Eyes
Reuben Morgan(Rocketown Records)
Reuben Morgan has a smoldering passion to inspire others to worship God. World Through Your Eyes is the debut solo album from the Hillsong worship-team leader and former music youth pastor who helped establish the Hillsong United youth band. He is best-known though for penning such contemporary Hillsong classics as “Lord I Give You My Heart” and “My Redeemer Lives.”
Morgan's wealth of experience as one of Hillsong's chief songwriters and producers pours fourth in the sweeping melodies and vibrant lyrical landscapes that sonically communicate his surrendered heart.
“Waiting Here” draws listeners into a confessional concert that encourages them, as the lyrics say, “everything will work out.” While songs such as “Stand” lead listeners into celebrating and “trusting what they cannot see.”
Now More Than Ever... Worship
(Verity Records/ Zomba Gospel)
Joann Rosario made a huge impact a few years ago with her debut project and hit title tune “More, More, More.”
Since then, she's been absent due to the temporary loss of her voice. But now with a healing she credits to God, she's back with a new project, Now More Than Ever … Worship.
As the national music director of Maranatha World Revival Ministries (under the leadership of her father, Pastor Nahum Rosario) and her church's worship leader, her consummate skills in leading others into worship are clearly apparent on a live rendition of “Welcome Into This Place.”
Other great studio tracks are the inspiring “I Hear You Say” and the Latin/ urban cut “Never the Same.”
Flaunting her musical diversity, Rosario includes the pop-oriented “Thanks Be Unto God,” the jazzy “Life So Wonderful” and the soulful “Sing of Your Goodness.”
Out of the Box
Relevant offers a bimonthly multimedia grab-box of resources for connecting with 20-somethings.
Maybe you've noticed them. 20-something college or career individuals, maybe not yet married, that sit in your church pews each Sunday. Too old for the youth group crowd and too young for the singles-ministry crowd. And an ever-expanding force to be reckoned with in today's emerging church.
That's where Relevant Network (RN) comes in. An outgrowth of Relevant Media Group-that publishes 60,000-subscriber strong Relevant magazine, books and provides multimedia development services-RN started in March 2004, with a mission to assist churches in ministering to 20-somethings.
And all you need to jump-start is contained in the contents of an 11 x 17ish cardboard box.
For $399 a year, RN sends bimonthly kits to member churches. Under the lid you'll find a grab bag of five cutting-edge books that address spirituality and contemporary cultural issues; five Christian rock and/or worship CDs that appeal to the 20-something; five copies of Relevant magazine; one copy of the RN-exclusive Relevant Leader magazine-chock full of articles by ministry leaders who reach the 20-something set (e.g. David Crowder, Erwin McManus, Louie Giglio, Dan Kimball, Joshua Harris, Jami Smith, Urban D)-and, on occasion, multimedia products such as NOOMA series DVDs and resources such as The TNIV Pocket Bible.
Among some of the other perks of membership, RN member churches receive:
-online access to small-group study guides that correlate with the books in the current kit;
-a weekly e-newsletter;
-premium church listings on the RN church database (with some 200,000 hits from young adults every month);
-member-only online forums for you to network with other young-adult leaders;
-discounted services for creating Web, print and multimedia for your young-adult service; and
-discounts on Relevant book titles and bulk subscriptions to the magazine.
For more information on Relevant Network and how your church can join, visit www.relevantnetwork.com, or call RN Producer Tyler Clark at (407) 660-1411, ext. 213.
Lorie G. Munizzi
A new movie on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson explores her human side.
The new movie Aimee Semple McPherson is as provocative as it is touching and offers a fresh take on the human frailty of one of America's towering spiritual icons.
Get past the shoestring production values by former-minister-turned-producer Richard Rossi and you'll find a sensitive script, ample acting and a story that portrays the Pentecostal pioneer as a woman, who, like the rest of us, lived in a skin of real flesh.
Sister Aimee, played by screen newcomer Mimi Michaels, was friend to the famous and a provider to the poor. Yet, her ministry was rife with controversy.
A study in contrasts, she is seen in the movie as a creative genius who was vulnerable, often melancholy and, most of all, lonely.
“A lot of leaders anointed by God with spiritual gifts feel they have to hide their despair because they would be considered unfit for leadership,” Rossi says. “Healers especially pour out into everyone else and come to find out they are depleted.”
In a life that was factually as anointed as plagued, the movie is fairly accurate historically. Critically, it is middle of the road.
It traces Sister Aimee's early life as the daughter of Canadian farmer James Kennedy-portrayed by Ron Howard's father, Rance-and her shrewd, strong-willed mother, Minnie-played by Teres Byrne.
Her conversion, aided by traveling evangelist and future husband Robert Semple, and her husband's death on the China mission field are treated with sensitivity. She returns to the United States from the mission field with her infant daughter, Roberta Semple. Aimee soon thereafter marries Harold McPherson, a kind man who does not fully understand her call to preach and leaves her evangelistic tent.
Yet the movie best explores Sister Aimee's aching earthliness through her short third marriage to former Angelus Temple singer David Hutton, her strange 39-day disappearance and her death by an accidental overdose of barbiturates and kidney failure.
On May 18, 1926, three years after she opened Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, she walked into the surf at nearby Ocean Park for a swim and disappeared. Many thought she had drowned. But 39 days later she walked in from the desert near Douglas, Ariz.
Newspaper writers and the local district attorney, Asa Keyes, alleged she had spent at least some of that missing time in a cottage with her married audio engineer Kenneth Ormiston. Sister Aimee insisted she was kidnapped.
Hundreds of journalists and two courts of law spent five years and more than a half-million dollars, but never proved otherwise.
In 1931, she married singer David Hutton, who may have been slightly less of a scoundrel than the movie indicates. Her second divorce and the end of her third marriage in 1934 was especially painful, and the movie touches on her well-documented bouts with depression. And ends in 1944 with her unusual death due to an overdose on barbiturates and kidney failure.
Because the movie explores both sides of her disappearance and her roller coaster-like personality, controversy will likely hound it as it did her ministry. Yet, the movie as well as Sister Aimee's life adds a dynamic dimension when draped with frail flesh.
“In a sense, we're all wounded soldiers,” Rossi says. “She was a powerful conduit for the Holy Spirit, yet she struggled. It's ironic that a lot of churches today would reject her because she was divorced twice. But her's is a story of grace, and it's grace that gives all us sinners hope.”
After she won the legal battle regarding her disappearance in the movie, her father tells her, “But whether you've done something wrong or whether you've done something right [Christ] is there for forgiveness.”
And that is the proper way to view Aimee's life and this movie. If you can believe that Christian legends still wear skin that longs to be touched, this movie is a must-see.
Rossi says he believes depicting her humanness will attract non-Christian viewers. And he hopes church leaders, especially those in her denomination, will view the movie with objectivity.
The film is in select theaters this fall. The DVD is now available. For a copy, send a donation of $29.95 or more to Eternal Grace, 5030 Whitsett Ave., #1, Valley Village, CA 91607. Movie-related news can be found at www.aimeesem
NOOMA DVD Series
NOOMA DVD Series
A selection of modern-day parables narrated by Mars Hill Bible Church pastor Rob Bell.
Many new resources turn out to be more useful as coasters and Frisbees. They don't require much thought from those who watch them because they weren't given much thought by those who made them.
So it was refreshing to watch a series of short films called NOOMA, a product of the nonprofit company Fringe (Flannel/Zondervan). With titles such as Rain, Noise and Rhythm, the 11-DVD series cuts through the Christian rhetoric with relevance and style.
Hosted by Rob Bell, founder and teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., each DVD is a dramatic monologue relating the subject matter, “noise,” for example, back to our lives and to Scripture.
Each message is approximately 10 to 14 minutes long and can be used as an introduction to a talk, as the message itself or as a gift.
But they are not for everyone. The NOOMA series targets a lost and lukewarm generation who confuse “churchianity” with Christianity.
Targeting young adults, they challenge both believers and unbelievers alike to be on-fire and on-purpose.
Three software packages that take the pain out of church multimedia presentations.
Many of us have been there-worshiping in church on Sunday, glancing at the video screens for lyrics to that new song the worship leader is teaching everyone, when, suddenly, a technical hiccup occurs.
Beyond a little embarrassment, the real blow is that technology has, once again, become a distraction in worship instead of being an effective tool for communicating the message. But before discounting our video volunteer, we should consider the outdated tools he or she may be using.
Five years ago, using Microsoft PowerPoint to display song lyrics was acceptable, if not cost-effective-since most churches own the software already. In most cases, though, it‚'s now counterproductive. Custom-designed for the worship experience, the following programs will help you make the leap from PowerPoint:
EasyWorship version 2.3 lives up to its name. With a simple three-panel interface, everything you need is right at your fingertips. The first panel is for viewing and changing your service schedule. It'‚s like a playlist of songs, scripture verses and videos that you have added for speedy projection.
The second panel displays a preview of what you plan to send to the projectors. While the first panel only displays titles of the songs you'‚ve added, the preview displays the full lyrics and a preview of how the lyrics will look when the congregation sees them on-screen.
The third panel displays what your congregation is seeing on-screen at that moment. All of the programs reviewed allow users to add and remove songs in a matter of seconds, but EasyWorship excels at making speedy last-minute changes due to its great interface.
You can also display any scripture, on-the-fly, as fast as you can type the reference. It includes three versions of the Bible and other versions are available for $29 each.
The upcoming release of version 2.4 will add support to play DVDs straight from your computer's DVD drive, with start and stop points, the ability to program multiple background images per song and 3-D slide transitions.
Bottom line: Three-panel interface made it fast to navigate in the midst of a changing worship service (very handy in many charismatic churches). Good step-by-step online tour included on the installation CD. Like the others, EasyWorship imports PowerPoint files right into its playlist for pre-service announcements, guest speakers‚ files, and so on.
Weak topical help contained in the software program. Included backgrounds and videos focus mostly on nature, with very few modern graphics. Omits some advanced features such as support for Macromedia Flash files and total control over advanced slide positioning.
With great flexibility for even theatrical use, such as Easter musicals, Media Shout offers highly customizable tools and automated playback of its “scripts” and “cues,” a feature unique to Media Shout only in this comparison.
“ShoutSinger,” an included program accessible through MediaShout, is used to enter lyrics and it provides some unique features, such as the ability to tag and search for songs by theme, author and even lyrics, rather than only title.
Cool features abound. One is the ability to add DVD video to your script straight from your computer's DVD drive. You can specify start and stop points, too, if you only want to play one scene. Another feature is the built-in audio player, called “Audie,” that could, for instance, let you play quick sound effects during your kids church service or even full MP3 audio files. In addition to useful features, MediaShout'‚s interface is highly customizable for power users.
Bottom line: Lots of features, highly customizable. Supports DVD video, Macromedia Flash animations and can create automated slideshows. Comes with the most Bible translations: 52, including the NIV.
Not as intuitive and easy-to-learn as EasyWorship but great for power users. Beginners may have a steep learning curve.
SundayPlus 2.4 takes a visual approach to its interface that is very different from the other two programs, that both rely on menus.
As a result, it is very intuitive and easy-to-learn for volunteers. Songs, background images, videos and scripture verses sit in “bins,” which are little squares on the bottom of the screen.
A SundayPlus 2.4 user can simply drag a background into the “cuelist,” which is another set of squares on the top of the screen. Then, the user can drag lyrics on top of the background in the cuelist, and in two clicks, he can display it to the congregation.
Like EasyWorship, SundayPlus 2.4 is focused on live worship sets, so automating portions of a presentation can'‚t be done. With native support for Photoshop files, QuickTime Movies, Macromedia Flash, PowerPoint presentations, DV movies and built-in image editing software for adding effects to slide backgrounds, it is the most multimedia-compatible software program of the three.
The standard SundayPlus 2.4 package comes with two versions of the Bible. There are at least eight versions available for use with the software.
Bottom line: Refreshingly unique interface that will make sense immediately to church volunteers. Great multimedia demos included on installation CD to help users learn the software. Easy lyric editing and formatting. Lacks advanced features such as slide automation and timing.
Bonus Gift Section
Christmas Gifts for Church Staff
Christmas Gifts for Church Staff
Our top 10 Christmas gift recommendations for staff pastors, administrators, deacons or volunteers.
1. All I Really Want for Christmas (CD, $17.98) by Steven Curtis Chapman. This Christmas project by platinum-selling singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman is a collection of 12 original and traditional holiday favorites and includes a special appearance from Chapman's first adopted daughter from China, Shaohannah Hope. To order, visit www.stevencurtischapman.com.
2. Napoleon Dynamite (DVD, $20.99). With his sweet 'fro and moon boots, geeky anti-hero Napoleon steals the show in this family-friendly film-one that won't have you reaching for the mute button every 30 seconds to skip some morally objectionable language or activity. Available at www.amazon.com.
3. 5 Words of Worship jewelry ($42-$730). This line of women's and men's silver and gold rings and pendants was inspired by Saddleback Church worship leader Rick Muchow's song “Words of Worship.” Each features the five universal words used in worship around the world-“Worship,” “Abba,” “Hallelujah,” “Maranatha,” “Hosanna” and “Amen.” To order, visit www.bobsiemon.com.
4. Bible Navigator (CD-ROM, $19.97, advance edition $49.97). Software designed to take your Bible study to the next level. Includes the complete Holman Christian Standard Bible text. Allows you to search multiple Bible translations, books and personal documents simultaneously. Available at www.broadmanholman.com.
5. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Collector's Edition (two CDs, $19.97). Just in time for the movie's December release, this audio adaptation of Lewis' book was recorded in London with a cast of more than 100, with cinema-quality sound and original music and effects. Available at www.tyndale booksellers.com.
7. Inherit the Mirth: 2006 Wall Calendar ($12.99). Religion meets The Far Side in this 16-month wall calendar featuring the humor of youth minister and cartoonist Cuyler Black. To order, visit www.calendars.com.
8. Protégé Bible Attaché ($29.99). With divided main compartments, a pouch to hold a Bible, dual handles, a detachable shoulder strap and cell-phone holder, this grey, LeatherSoft carryall is perfect for the man-or woman-of God on the go. To order, visit www.thomasnelson.com.
9. Answers to Pastors' FAQs ($9.99, paperback) by Howard F. Sugden and Warren W. Wiersbe. Two highly respected pastors help you tackle every tough situation that you and your church will face in the coming years. To order, visit www.cookministries.com.
10. Rolfs Christian Motif Wallets ($18-$24). Men's and women's basic leather wallets come packaged in a box ready for giving. Each piece features a two-tone, gold and silver, metal inlaid cross or fish ornament. Add in some cash or a gift card for an extra bonus. To order, visit www.rolfs.net.