The Church Doctor® Report

White-Hot Worship:  

The Ingredients May Surprise You    

 VOL. 8 NO. 2 March/April. 2012
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Kent Hunter has worshiped with Christians in a myriad of people groups on six continents. Each June, Kent mentors a small group of 20 North American church leaders for ten days in Sheffield, England, where God is moving in extraordinary ways. This year, one of the focus points for mentoring is "white-hot worship."

Featured Service 

Join the growing movement of Healthy Churches Thrive! In the first six months, churches experience these spiritual results:


  • 15% of growth of those in Bible study.
  • 13% increase of those who give 10% or more as their offering.
  • 34% expansion of those who see the primary purpose of the church as making disciples.
  • 16% growth of volunteers
                        .... and more!

HCT! is not a packaged program. It is a guided movement within each church. It ignites spiritual growth and missional culture.


 "We entered into the HCT! Pilgrimage asking what we needed to change. We are discovering a change in the way we think, the way we see our community, and the way we live. This is not a quick fix, it is a transformation."

~ Pastor from a church involved in HCT!



  Diagnostic Consultation


Ever procrastinate to see your primary care physician thinking, "I can get better on my own"? Then you finally break down, swallow your pride, make the visit - and are so glad you did! The Diagnostic Consultation brings a certified and experienced Church Doctor to your congregation to provide an analysis at a depth unparalleled today. Using surveys developed and refined for decades, interviews with church members (one-on-one), and focusing on what God is doing, this positive approach provides numerous recommendations uniquely targeted toward your church. This approach is process-oriented, not model-dependent. So many churches have purchased a one-size-fits-all diagnostic tool only to discover that a printout does not provide transformational change. That's why a thermometer - though useful - will never replace your physician. No two people are the same, and no two churches are alike.  



SEND North America   


Servants Equipping New Disciples (SEND) North America is an amazing, ten-month experience for young adults who want to find God's plan for their lives, grow deeper in discipleship and mission - and have a great time! Here are a few of the quotes young adults shared in the last few weeks.


"SEND is an absolute life-changer."


"The biblical, practical teaching has been amazing for centering my life in truth."   

"I have grown exponentially in my faith through our Bible reading, worship, living together, and the amazing teachings."


"I didn't know which direction to take in life, but through SEND, I am finding what I want to do and where I need to go."


"I am the closest I have ever been to God. I am starting to know His voice when He speaks."

SEND North America is now accepting applications for the September 2012 - June 2013 training season. God will transform you. You will never be the same. It will rock your world. Check out our latest video clip at

June 2012 UK Immersion Experience: Catch Missional Flu!

June 6-14, 2012


Limit 20  

  • This is our 10th year - and no one has yet been disappointed.
  • Be mentored for ten days by Kent Hunter, Church Doctor, and author of 30 books including The J-Dog Journey and The Future is Now.
  • Connect with the European origins of SEND North America.
  • Experience white-hot worship.
  • Learn from one of the most effective outreach ministries to university students in Europe.
  • Develop relationships with everyday Christians living biblical, mission-driven lives.
  • Learn how you can bring this amazing move of God home to your church.
  • Experience what can't be packaged. You can't buy it, but you can catch it.

Now Accepting Inquiries for June 2012

Complete our online application: 

or e-mail Jason for more information 

Check Out Dr. Hunter's E-books on  
  • The J-Dog Journey: Where Is Life?
  • The Future Is Now: How God is Moving in the 21st Century
  • Michael's Story: A Journey of Life 
Immersion, Toledo, Ohio, October 4-8, 2012

Limit 20


Experience the coming spiritual awakening at one of the flashpoints of where God is moving.

  • Preparatory reading before the event.
  • Briefing by two Church Doctors prior to the immersion experience.
  • Debriefing each day to help you process what God is going.
  • Guidance to develop an Action Plan specific to your church.
  • Participate in "Love Toledo."
  • Witness accountability groups.
  • Experience "white-hot" worship.
  • Learn how to turn your church inside out.
Now Accepting Inquiries for October 2012

E-mail Jason for more information
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"All right," worship leader Mick Woodhead told the congregation. "Take out your cell phones."


My first inclination? "He's going to start the sermon, and he wants to make sure our phones are off." Imagine my surprise when he instructed everyone to turn their phones on and text someone they know who is not in the worship service - unchurched friends. "Tell them God loves them, you are in church having a great time...'and have a great day!'" He then added, "Don't worry if they're sleeping this morning. They'll get the message when they get out of bed."


To put it in perspective, you need to know that Mick is an Anglican vicar (read "pastor" for we who are in North America) at St. Thomas' Crookes - an area in the city of Sheffield, England. Overcoming my prejudicial generalization that the British are "prim and proper" and that Anglicans are "stuffy and formal," it became clear that this "white-hot worship" - as Mick calls it - is one more ingredient of why this church feels more like the New Testament than any other I have seen on the planet.


Transfiguration and Transformation 


In Matthew 17, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain. Jesus becomes "white" - as in "white-hot worship." The disciples may have been in a mountain climbing mode before, but this vision of Jesus touched a worship nerve. While they watched, they saw Jesus hanging out with Moses and Elijah. These heavy hitters from the Old Testament surely impressed the disciples - at a new level. This, no doubt, convinced them that Jesus had a special place in God's plan. This also reflects a theme for this mountaintop experience. Jesus demonstrates the value of relationships - with Moses and Elijah.


Peter didn't get that memo, but reacted with a human tendency still practiced today by many well-meaning Christians. Peter suggested that it was so cool to see the three of them - Moses, Elijah, and Jesus - together - that he offered to build three tents, memorials, monuments - however you translate it.


This is the human propensity to take something God is doing - that is very relational - and turn it into a program, institution, or organized religion. Peter wasn't aware of God's relational dimension that goes all the way back to the Garden and becomes extraordinary with the Abramic Covenant. This is the classic drift of God followers - Pharisees and the like - even in worship.


To clarify, the Father speaks, relationally, out of the cloud: "This is my Son, the one I love, I am pleased with Him. Listen to Him." (As in, don't listen to your rational inclinations.) At this, the disciples fell flat on their faces. They were now in worship for sure! Then, Jesus made another relational move: He reached out and touched them saying, "Don't be afraid."


What Goes On In Worship? 


For years, I have exposed groups of North Americans to the "Sheffield Experience." Just about everyone has the same response to the worship: "The Holy Spirit really showed up,"; "The Holy Spirit was so strongly present,"; "I really felt the Holy Spirit." Even after a decade of annual visits, I, too, get caught in a "God moment" in worship that takes my breath away, makes me cry, renews my love for God, and knocks my spiritual socks off. It's hard to describe, but the most common response is about the Holy Spirit.


This has led me to a long and careful study about the Holy Spirit in worship. Who wouldn't want more people leaving the worship service saying, "I was touched by the Holy Spirit"? My journey took me to an unexpected destination. Like Peter, I focused on the programmatic elements. Mick is a good preacher, for sure - really good. But he's no Billy Graham. Or Peter at Pentecost. Becca, who leads the worship team, is great - but I remember when she was young, new, and, (in my perception), a little timid leading worship. The PowerPoint slides are sometimes on time with the music - and sometimes not. Ruth, who does that faithfully, isn't perfect, either. And yet - in all these circumstances, the Holy Spirit is in the room - and off the charts. It's something else. My human side - like Peter - wasn't ready for what I discovered.


Worship in Community


It took about five years to get this. Like many pastors (and Anglican vicars), I was trained to lead worship in the style of an Old Testament priest at the temple mount in Jerusalem. It was a form of worship leading that is top-down, mostly one-way communication, and severely institutionalized. I think, early on in my career, I had so organized worship that if God showed up, there wouldn't be room to operate. Yes, I get that God is a God of order, and still think that's important. However, it occurred to me that Mick leads worship like community. He is dialogical - even when preaching. He will stop and talk to someone in the congregation to make a point in his message. It's not just less formal, it's conversational. It is interactive. He asks us to respond to questions by raising our hands. As worshipers, we are always involved.


Later in the service, it was time for prayers. For years, as a pastor, I stood up and prayed those long prayers for those in the congregation who were sick, lost a loved one, or needed a job. Actually, many in larger congregations have no clue who most of those people are. You might as well read the names out of the phone book and pray for them! Mick does this differently. In his interactive, dialogical approach to worship, he asks us, if we are willing, to raise our hands if we want prayer. Then he says the music is going to start, there will be slides on the screen, and anyone can follow along and sing. However, those who see someone near them raise their hand should go over, lay a hand on their shoulder, and pray for them. He is quick to add that no one has to feel obligated and no one should feel embarrassed. People who want prayer don't have to share what it is they want prayer for - God knows. If they want to share, they can. Then, what follows, is a time of holy chaos: or chaordic worship! It is body life, like the New Testament.


I often preach for the churches I consult. It provides visibility for the report that follows. But that's not a control group for research. I'm there only once on a Sunday to preach. Consequently, I started experimenting whenever I substitute at our home church. Without saying a word to anyone, I began to build the worship service and the message with more interaction. After each worship service, I would listen to unsolicited comments from worshipers, and analyze e-mail responses. The most common response? "The Holy Spirit was really present."


So how does the Holy Spirit work in this interactive, relational approach to worship-as-community? I began discussions with two respected friends, Dr. Bob Shriner, the associate pastor at my church, and Dr. Rupert Loyd, a pastor in Ohio. We looked at Scripture, as well as scholarly writings from recent years, and theological material from previous centuries.


In God's Old Covenant (Old Testament) approach, worship was supposed to be a little more on the "shock and awe" side. God was considered mysterious, but personal with some select people, like Abraham, David, the prophets, and, in worship, with appointed priests. They performed the sacrifices of sheep, goats, and grain, etc. on behalf of the people. The priest was the hierarchical, organizational representative who had direct access to the "Holy of Holies."


In the New Covenant (New Testament), God gets relational in Jesus Christ. He is the sacrifice and everyone has access to God. In fact, the "royal priesthood" is now for every believer and the act of worship includes everyone. For New Testament writers, worship is more authentic when the focus is on community.


In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul writes that the Holy Spirit gives gifts, including speaking in tongues. But more important are the relationships in the community. If someone has the gift of speaking tongues, but there is no gift of interpretation, don't mess up the community. Jesus, in the New Covenant, flattens the hierarchical tone of worship (and in ministry and mission activity) and develops community. Order is good in everything, including worship. But that comes through relational accountability. During His ministry, Jesus displayed authentic connections with people. He hung out with all types. He touched people, ate with them, spent time in their houses. The Pharisees - many with their minds in the Old Covenant - couldn't handle it. Jesus was relational, frequently spoke interactively - and people responded by worshiping Him. When He ascended to Heaven, he gave the Holy Spirit, who continues to touch people - even in worship. A more interactive, dialogical, community-style of worship provides the Holy Spirit room to breathe.  

Ten Dynamics of White-Hot Worship That May Surprise You

  1. Develop worship, to whatever degree possible, as a flat community, rather than a hierarchical.
  2. Engage worshipers by asking for
    advance input: responses by questionnaires/surveys, electronic input through the church website - and utilize responses in the message.
  3. Solicit responses from the congregation: whether you have a worship culture of hands raised in praise, or "Amen" responses, or an occasional show of hands in response to a question.
  4. Acknowledge, even if briefly, what is going on in the world around you, whether it be Super Bowl Sunday, an international news item, Mother's Day, a family whose house burned down in your city, or the extreme weather.
  5. If it logically supports the theme of worship, interact with what people are hearing and seeing in culture, TV, movies, commercials, etc.
  6. When preaching, dialog with someone in the congregation - when necessary, prepare them so they know it's coming.
  7. Be as relational as possible. Christianity, at its core, is not an institution, but a relational movement.
  8. Have fun, be enthusiastic, when appropriate.
  9. Use the visuals of this era: drama skits, video clips, PowerPoint, etc.
  10. Support teaching and preaching with story, whether in parables or testimonies.

Chisum, John. The 5 Keys to Engaging Worship. Chico, CA: Engage Press, LLC, 2008.


Church Doctor Ministries. Worship Consultation.


Everett, M. Rogers. Communication Technology. New York, NY: Free Press, 1986.


Group Publishing. Engaging Worship: 20 Blueprints for Experiential Church Services. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2009.


Hunter, Kent R. Engaging Christianity. Corunna, IN: Church Doctor Ministries, January 2001 (audio resource).


Hunter, Kent R. Ten Ways to Improve Worship for Church Growth. Corunna, IN: Church Doctor Ministries, 1994 (audio resource).


Hunter, Kent R. Worship Beyond the Stained Glass Barrier. Corunna, IN: Church Doctor Ministries, 1991 (audio resource).


Jacobsen, Wayne and Clay Jacobsen. Authentic Relationships: Discover the Lost Art of "One Anothering." Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003.


Maxwell, John C. Relationships 101. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004.


Miller, Mark. Experiential Storytelling: (Re)Discovering Narrative to Communicate God's Message. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.


Noland, Rory. The Worshiping Artist: Equipping You and Your Ministry Team to Lead Others in Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007.


Rognlien, Bob. Experiential Worship: Encountering God with Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004.


Saccone, Steve. Relational Intelligence: How Leaders Can Expand their Influence Through a New Way of Being Smart. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass, 2009.


Scharf, Gregg. Relational Preaching. Langham Preaching Resources, 2010.


Schmit, Clayton J. and Jana Childers. Performance in Preaching: Bringing the Sermon to Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.