Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reflection on article "The Top Three Issues Facing Multi-ethnic Church worship Leaders."

When reflecting on this article and on multi-ethnic worship in general, there are three things that keep returning to my mind. I was very glad to see these items turn up in this article because they are things that I have thought about but had not been able to pin point. I thank this article for helping me better articulate my understanding of key issues to keep in mind when pursuing multi-ethnic worship. In this reflection I hope to summarize my thoughts on these three key points.

Compromise - Ken Reynolds said “It’s impossible to please everyone. As a worship leader myself, I have to put the needs of the congregation before my needs.” Putting the preference of others in front of our own is possibly the hardest thing for me to do as a worship leaders. Most leaders have a fair amount of training and are hired for the job because they are being trusted for their judgment. With this mindset itis very easy for worship leaders to just slip into a rut of doing their own thing and even get a little cocky while doing it. Besides, the church should be OK with what I like, I mean, that is my job! But compromise in ministry needs to happen at every level, multi-ethnic or not. The ability to compromise and put the needs of the congregation first (with out loosing your head trying to please absolutely 100% of every one) should be the a growing trait of any good worship leader. This ties into my following points of purity and vulnerability. If there is no compromise by the worship leader there is no purity in worship because the service is not authentic to the congregation. Also vulnerability is more difficult because without compromise I am asking the congregation to come forward on my terms, not theirs.

Purity - Gail Song Bantum hit on the idea of purity. This really struck me. Relay, purity in worship is striving to fight the specter of tokenism. Purity means compromising but it also means putting in a little extra leg work when planning worship. Just because I have an African-American as part of your worship team means they are comfortable leading the Gospel style song you I use once a month. Purity also takes place when I strive to develop my team. Maybe that scrawny white kid could pull off that song better than any other? I never know if I don’t invest. Purity in worship takes work. Purity means truly investing and going beyond compromise. To many worship leaders, even my self, slack off in this department. My goal is to take what I have and not just sit on it, but make it great for the congregation and for God.

Vulnerability - Normally when I see a congregation not responding in worship (whatever “responding” means, that could be a whole other paper), I think “these people don’t get it!” My next thought is “No, that leader doesn’t get these people.” I think the latter is more correct. Congregational context is very important to consider when leading but if the congregation doesn’t trust the leader, they will never connect. Pushing and stretching a congregation is one thing, but instead of pushing, I believe vulnerability means honestly bringing the congregation into the presence of God. Vulnerability is about trust. If I don’t have a leader I trust I have a very hard time following. It seems that vulnerability in worship is about compromise and purity but it is also about being authentic. If, as leaders, we can’t be open and true about ourselves, our congregations may never fully get to the point of experiencing God’s story in its fullest.

In the end, I really can’t have one of these points without the other. And really, these are all things that are a part of any ministry. I believe these three points are key to instigating multi-cultural worship because they make up the foundation of being authentic. If I can not be real or authentic in my leadership, people may follow me but my leadership will all be false. If I can not compromise, strive for purity in ministry and seek to be vulnerable I cannot expect that from my ministry. And while there does need to be a level of professionalism, in the grand scheme of God’s story, compromise, purity and vulnerability are small prices to pay for participation at the heavenly table.