Posts Tagged ‘Age Preferences’

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Worship In A Multi-ethnic Church: Part 1 The Heart of Worship

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Question: How do you navigate personal preference and kingdom purpose in worship style?

Kingdom purpose in worship style is to be expressed in song. The New testament records that Jesus and His disciples following the last supper “sung a hymn” Mt 26:30; Mk 14:26; Paul and Silas during their imprisonment worshipped God by “praying and singing hymns to God” as the other prisoners listened Acts 16:25; Paul’s desire for the Romans is that God give them “a spirit of unity” as they follow Christ and that unity was to be expressed as they “sing hymns” Rom 15:7-9; To the Ephesians Paul writes “ speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” Eph 5:19.

It is clear from these verses that believers are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The source of these expressions of worship is our heart and the motivation behind this heartfelt worship to God is our gratitude for all that he has done for us. Genuine worship is expressed with other believers as evidence of unity, at times in the presence of non-believers, in the midst of our trials, from a heart that is overflowing with faith, trust, thanks giving, and contentment.

Worship should not be an act we reserve for Sunday services but a lifestyle. My wife, Debbie, shared with me the words she penned following a devotional Bible study on worship, Matt Redmond’s book The Unquenchable Worshipper: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship is what led her into this study. She writes.

Worship.

It’s a lifestyle.

It’s how we live each moment

of every day –captivated

by the awareness of

God’s presence.

It’s making choices to bring Him

pleasure and honor.
It’s refusing to allow the struggles

in life to consume us,

but rather to seek contentment

in every situation.

It’s kneeling before a holy God

to praise Him,

For it is only there

that we forget ourselves

and find rest

in His loving arms.

Deborah Lee Lucero 1-21-05

Our purpose in kingdom worship is to draw people into the presence of God through corporate prayer, singing, and the teaching of God’s Word.

As we consider creating a multi-ethnic worship service the focus should not be on instruments, genres, relevancy or contextualization. To do so would be to fall into the trap of pragmatism. These factors are important but not to the exclusion of Biblical worship, instead they should enhance Biblical worship. They should be used to help believers sincerely express their praise, adoration, confession, and thanksgiving to God.

The challenge for a church that has age diversity is that it must deal with those musical styles and genres that are influenced by generational preferences. Add to this the issue of ethnic diversity and we must also deal with musical styles and genres influenced by cultural preferences as well as generational preferences among the individual ethnic groups.

The reality is that all of us have musical preferences influenced by our ethnicity, age, family, and even our church culture. Therefore it is an impossibility to satisfy every ones personal preferences.

How then is it possible to create a worship service for a multi-ethnic congregation whose individual preferences are as diverse as their ethnicities and generations? There are basically three options that I have personally observed. If you know of any others please submit them as a comment.

  1. Keep the worship style of the church and encourage everyone that joins your church to accept your style of worship. This is the assimilationist approach. While it won’t attract a large amount of diversity some members of other ethnicities will attend and join the church. Interviews I conducted among these minorities revealed that they are usually of the same socio-economic, educational and employment status as the church members and they are willing to sacrifice their personal preference in worship style for something else that the church offers, in every case it has been expository Bible teaching.
  2. Find the most common musical genre preferences of your congregation and rotate those styles of worship on a weekly basis. Churches that begin to experience some diversity and desire to reach a larger segment of their ethnically diverse community will recognize the need to offer other genres of worship music. The initial shift has been to move from traditional hymns to contemporary worship music (generational issue). The next phase was to include other genres such as Rock, Gospel, Jazz, Latin Rhythms, etc (cultural issue).
  3. Blend the various genres into your worship service every week. The intent is to offer a little bit of everything on a weekly basis. This option has it’s own challenges which we will discuss in an interview with Gregory Hooper, Pastor of Worship Arts, Sunrise Church, Rialto, CA. in Part 2: Develop A Multi-ethnic Worship Team.

Sunrise Church operates under the third option. Our Senior Pastor Jay Pankratz, in dealing with the issue of personal preference, tells us, and I am paraphrasing, “You have all week to listen to your favorite Christian artist in your favorite style of music. On Sunday don’t expect to hear what you like all the time. Instead, learn to appreciate different musical styles and remember that worship is not about you it’s about God.”

Navigating personal preference and kingdom purpose in worship style can be challenging. The music we use for worship is to help people express a genuine worship of God. As Pastors we need to teach our people to stop thinking about what helps them to worship and start thinking and praying about what musical styles helps others to worship.

That’s my opinion I welcome yours.

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