A small group of people gathered in the woods at Wilshire Trails Park in Gainesville, clutching multicolored flags in their hands.
They weren’t members of a high school color guard or drill team, they were simply Christians praising God.
Though unconventional, the use of “praise flags” among charismatic Christians is fairly popular. Caleb Brundidge travels the country sharing his experience with flags, dance and “kinetic worship,” or worship through motion dance.
Brundidge said he has been using praise flags for close to 17 years, and he believes they are all about building relationships between people and God.
According to Waves of Worship Flag Ministry’s website, the use of flags and banners in worship stems from the traditional use of the items.
Flags are used to represent beliefs, give direction and encouragement and declare victory. In worship, according to the ministry, they can do the same.
“They are a form of visual worship and they make a powerful statement to the non-believer,” the ministry’s site states. “They are a silent witness in ministry, but they speak volumes to anyone who looks at them.”
Brundidge used the flags during a small conference Aug. 6 in Gainesville, which was hosted by Pastor Tom Hayden of A House of Prayer.
A House of Prayer, at 812 Washington St. in Gainesville, is not a church, Hayden said. And it is not related to the International House of Prayer in Atlanta. It is literally Hayden’s home, which he opens to anyone for Bible studies, worship and fellowship.
“It’s not a church,” he said. “Gainesville doesn’t need another church. It’s about family, it’s about sitting down to eat together.”
Hayden and Brundidge have had many meals together.
“I met Caleb probably 20 years ago when he wasn’t walking with God,” Hayden said. “He came to one of my meetings in New York. He continued with us for some years as we mentored him in the things of God, but he had an idea God wanted him to use flags as a type of ministry tool, evangelism, etc. Caleb has been doing this for many years now, and God certainly does use him in this manner.”
Brundidge, who is based in Los Angeles, said he is focusing this year on working with small groups such as the one in Gainesville.
“This year, God told me to go to small events, small locations, small churches that are different than the events I am at a lot of times that are much larger,” Brundidge said, noting one of those small locations was Gainesville.
But the reception at large or small events is the same.
“The presence and power of God is like a fire, and the more people that are there, the more people adding to the flame,” Brundidge said. “But these other places, like here, have value, too. God loves this place just as much as he loves New York City, where I was a few weeks ago.”
Brundidge said he creates and sells his own flags, T-shirts and jewelry, and the creative outlet is an important part of his life and faith. He speaks at conferences and churches across the nation about his experience with kinetic worship.
“It’s about expanding the kingdom,” he said. “And the fire has to start even in the small places.”
Hayden said he is impressed by the evangelical work Brundidge does as he shares kinetic worship. He said Brundidge makes a point to not just dance and wave his flags, but to speak to, inform and connect with people.
“He really wants people to know what’s going on,” he said. “Waving a flag is nice, but what’s going on?”
While Hayden said he does not practice kinetic worship or use praise flags, he said it interested a few people at A House of Prayer. After he arranged for Brundidge to come from Los Angeles, the news spread and participants in the conference came from as far as Pennsylvania and Nevada.
“We’ve got people from all over the place who came here for this specifically,” he said. “This is something that interests people.”