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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Five Tips for Incorporating Multicultural Worship

Worshipers lifting hands and singingWorship music is often one of the great highlights of any Christian gathering. It can be a formative experience as participants process and respond to what they have been learning. Music is also a powerful tool, bonding attendees together through meaningful shared experience.

It is important that corporate worship be mindful and affirming of the multifaceted Body of Christ. Multicultural worship music serves to affirm and welcome participants that may have a wide array of backgrounds. By incorporating multiple worship styles, musical genres, or languages into your worship music, we broaden the scope of our worship, and tune our hearts to the greater impact of God’s work.

Here are five tips to begin incorporating multicultural worship at your next gathering:

1. Build relationships early
Lay the foundation of strong relationships from the very early stages of your planning process.  Early on, identify what cultures you would like to see represented and build a rapport of honesty and trust with worship leaders from those cultures. Seek their guidance and insights throughout the planning process.

Cartoon: Leader says "call", crowd says "response"2. Guide participants through the encounter
From the very start of your event, explain to your participants what you are doing and why. Read scripture that casts the vision for the multicultural church. Talk about Jesus’s multicultural ministry. Acknowledge any discomfort that participants may be feeling, and encourage them to be open to what God might be trying to reveal to them through the experience.

3. Start Slow and Small
Introduce a multicultural song that is slow enough for participants to learn relatively easily. Songs with significant repetition can also help ease into new styles or languages. Or try substituting a single word from other languages into a familiar song (eg. “Santo, santo, santo, Lord God almighty…”). Be sure to close with a known song to refresh attendees after having challenged themselves.

4. Repeat after me
‘Call and response’ songs are popular in a wide range of cultures, making them great tools for incorporating multicultural repertoire into worship. They allow participants to hear, see, and repeat back words in a guided manner, in short phrases at a time. Find some ‘call and response’ songs from the cultures you would like to highlight, using the technique to introduce both new styles and new languages. 
Live Painting: a woman paints on stage during a live event5. Visualize it
It is important that the message of multicultural worship also be conveyed visually to participants. Consider incorporating liturgical dance, mime, ASL, or live painting into your worship. Be mindful of the images that appear on projected slides, in bulletins, or on your event’s materials.  Display multicultural artworks around the venue.  Perhaps most importantly, ensure that music leaders, hosts, workshop leaders, and keynote speaker also reflect the multicultural values that are being conveyed through your worship.

This article adapted from one that was first published in Rejuvenate magazine's October/November 2015 issue. You can find the original article here.

Stay tuned for an upcoming review of Sandra Van Opstal's new book, The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World.

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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