Syd Hielema

Dr. Syd Hielema serves as director of the Christian Reformed Connections Project.

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  • The global COVID-19 pandemic has exposed centuries-old, unresolved racial disparities and injustices that are groaning for the reconciling grace of the gospel. Amidst this reality, what is the shape of honest worship in your context? 
  • Undoubtedly the most profound miracle and mystery about worship is that when Christians gather to worship our Lord, God shows up! He is present within the praises, prayers, and reflections of his people. Paul provides my favorite description of this presence: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3: 16).

  • A True Story

    The youth group had just returned from a week-long mission trip to a large, urban center. While there, they learned a rap-style worship song that beautifully embodied the soul of their week together. Still buzzing with the energy of their trip the Sunday morning after they returned home, they sang that rap-song for the congregation with lively, pre-recorded accompaniment, and then shared a couple epitomizing stories from their week.

  • Worship Reality Check

    One of the themes I loved to stress back in the days when I taught a university course on “Foundations of Worship,” is that worship provides a reality check. I can still hear myself saying to a class, “All week long our understandings of who God is and who we are gets hammered, and gradually becomes more and more out of focus. On Sundays we gather with God’s people to have our communal vision corrected again.”

    But what if our worship actually contributes to the loss of focus?

  • Do you long to see teens and young adults more solidly connected to your church?

    Are you a preacher or do you belong to a church that has a preacher?

    If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, I invite you to take on the “Preaching Tag-team Challenge.”

    The best way to explain the challenge is to tell you this story.

  • The 30-something pastor sat across from me in our local Thai restaurant, and was clearly too excited to eat.

    “When we worshiped yesterday,” he began, “I told the congregation that our ninety minutes together was just the trailer for the movie, a tiny glimpse of the kingdom to whet our appetite, and after our worship was over, the real deal would begin: the full length feature movie that develops the plotline and characters and reveals all the gritty details.” 

  • It was so predictable that it became comical. The third Monday of the term students walked into the “Foundations of Worship” class that Karen deMol and I taught together at Dordt College with their heads hanging, eyeing us suspiciously, holding their worship reflection assignments in their hands.