Multi-cultural Worship (Justin)



That’s a word white folks hate to hear, isn’t it.

Oh, wait…that’s a word black folks hate to hear too, huh.

Why? Because it conjures up one of the worse eras of American history, amplified by current, horrifying yet accurate (at least semi-accuate) current Hollywood films that profit on reminding us of how far we’ve come along in race relations. And there are million debates to be had on the topic (Are we finally a color-blind society because our current President is African-American? Is “race” actually a social construct made to hold up the walls of American stratification? Blah blah freakin’ blah). Sadly, when we think of race, we only think in terms of black and white, pun intended. Sure, I couldn’t tell you how many books I read in school that had the word ‘nigger’ in there and I was just supposed to not be offended; I couldn’t tell you how much my white friends have said some of the most racially insensitive things and defended their case by adding that they were only joking; I can’t tell you how many of my black friends and acquaintances have acted ignorant in light of Obama’s first election and disrespectful towards white people because they’re white. That’s all true, yes. But does that define race? What about the people of the nations, those that come from Native American heritage and culture? Latino ethnicity? Asian nationality? Race is more than what American doesn’t want it to be. So how does it effect the church? Huh.

I’m on the worship team at my non-denominational Christian church. We’re pretty contemporary with it; energetic, loud, and consequentially youthful. If you know Gateway Worship or Hillsong, that’s kinda what inspires us as a worship team the most. Rather, what we’d identify our sound by. And last night our team  had a very honest discussion about multi-cultural worship, what it looks like, and what it means to fully engage in it. Now mind you, with all due respect, my church is pretty “white”: racially, gerontologically, and socioeconomically homogeneous. Humorously enough, the people that admitted this were themselves white, unashamed, and very intentional with what they wanted to get across. I like that. It helps us get to the point when we can break past what makes us uncomfortable to hear.

If you’ve ever been to a Catholic church, a “white” contemporary church, a “black” Baptist church, a Lutheran church, a Church of Christ church, or a Mormon church (for instance), you’ll notice how different the notions and ideas of “worship” are. Our discussion was on why we felt another church’s ideas of worship, or another culture’s expressions of worship, make us feel uncomfortable, make us feel superior or inferior (have you ever been a church and either felt or simply been told that it’s wrong of you to put your hands in the air during worship, to dance, to bow down on your knees to express your love for God freely during worship), and how we have to remind ourselves of the definitions of 1) worship and 2) excellence. It’s awesome to be at church who openly admits they don’t have it all together. That’s called humility. I’m not just bragging on my church because I’m biased; this is legitimately something I’ve never experienced or been a part of before, and it’s scary and uncomfortable, and ever so easy to forget who we are even playing music every Sunday for. It’s not for the people; it’s not a concert or a talent show. But we’re about to embark on a very narrow road as far as worship goes, and how we give back to the Lord in our position as worship leaders within the church.

So I guess, for those of you who attend church or have attended before, and have either been a part of, or seen the worship a church engages in, let me ask you this: what does multi-cultural worship look like to you? Is it color-blind? Loud? Exciting? Strange? I want to hear your thoughts.

We love you. Knack, out.

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