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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music (Part 3)

We conclude our interview with David Bailey, who recently released his new book/CD combo, Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music:

  • What are some practical first steps for congregations and worship leaders interested in moving in the direction of multicultural worship? 
The first thing they need to do is to take an inventory of who is in the congregation and who is in neighborhood or 15-minute drive of church. They should look at race, ethnicity, age, socio-economics, education, gender, religious backgrounds, etc. to get to know what cultures are in the church and are not in the church. Then they need to become students of the people and cultures. This will help people learn to understand the cultural language, so they can eventually speak and it or contextualize the Scriptural truths to that culture.

  • What comments do you get from congregations that are new to multicultural worship? How do we ease the transitions or address reticence? 
Everyone is not going to like everything, so there will always be complaints. This is why leadership is very important. Leaders have to lead in a congregation's transition from a mono-cultural community to a multi-cultural community.  Leaders can’t sway from the vision of being multicultural in worship when people start complaining. If leaders shepherd and lead people through the process and equip everyone with the necessary resources and understanding, then the congregation will come along. There will be less complaining and people will eventually enjoy it. I learned that from a really great pastor that I served with and I mentioned it in my book under the section “Mmmkay”

  • What is the balance between accessibility and authenticity? 
I will use the word “honor” to explain this. If you are in a relationship with someone that speaks a different language than you, then you endeavor to communicate in a way that is accessible to both. It doesn't even have to be a linguistic language. Men and women speak different languages! In any relationship if you value the relationship, you learn to honor the person in a way that is both accessible and authentic to both parties.It’s been my experience, that the people that are most concerned about authenticity are people that are in majority cultures. When one is in the minority culture, they have to learn how to adapt with authenticity in order to get access to the majority culture as a means of survival. When someone is a part of the majority culture, they often don’t have to consider adapting and their concern is more about authenticity. 

I do want to note that I carefully chose the phrase “majority culture” instead of “white people” because “white people” aren’t the only majority culture. The majority culture could be a culture that is shaped by age, race, Christian tradition practice, etc. It doesn't have to be exclusively based off of racial hierarchy in the American context. The point of the matter is that whether you are a part of majority culture or minority culture, if you’re a Christian, honoring your brother more than yourself should be your major concern. Nobody gets off the hook with this biblical requirement.

  • What is the difference between appreciation and appropriation when it comes to worship music? What considerations should be taken in this regard?
Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also”. There is a huge connection between appreciation, value, and money. If someone comes to me and tells me that they want to do multicultural worship and they don’t know how to, but they don’t want to spend any money at all, then I know they don’t value multicultural worship. Spending money doesn't solve all of your problem, but how you spend money will tell you what you value. I talk about this issue in my book. I've done multicultural worship in situations where I we had very little money and other places where we've had a lot of money! 

The first thing to consider is what are your values. Make sure you are spending money according to your values. I say this in my book also, but it’s important that you value people. Invest in the people in your worship ministry. Train them. It’s amazing to me that churches that have an expectation for the preacher to be trained, educated, and equipped for ministry. They’ll give pastors and ministry staff a budget for continuing education, but they don’t provide training for volunteer musicians and sound engineers.  The music and sound equipment in many churches have about the same amount face-time in a service. I give some guidelines in the book that will help leaders with this.

  • Lastly, where do you find new songs? How do you remain interconnected and exposed to new music?
I get a lot of stuff from my friends in the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network and the International Council of Ethnodoxologist. I also commission a lot of stuff and/or work with writers. I arrange a lot of stuff also. I like a lot of the content that is coming out of the neo-hymn movement and Sovereign Grace Music, but I have to arrange the music so it could be used in more diverse settings.

Check out David's website for more information about Arrabon. Thanks, David, for your great insights!

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