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Why intercultural worship

"The beauty and power of praise that will come to the Lord from the diversity of the nations is greater than the beauty and power that would come to Him if the chorus of the redeemed were culturally uniform."
John Piper
Let the Nations Be Glad, page 222, published by Baker Books

The Holy Spirit proved through the ages that He loves to use our times of singing together. He is using it as a powerful tool to find the lost and comfort His people. A whole book in the Bible is about singing to the Lord with our hearts.

God created all cultures and wants all cultures to worship Him. 

Before the throne of God, we will worship the Lamb together. And still, our tribe and tongue will be recognizable there.
Because: diversity reflects the work of our Creator and brings Him glory.

Our churches become more and more diverse. As the cultural makeup of our countries, cities, and churches is changing, our worship styles should also change, to speak to the hearts of our people. 

An intercultural church is a community that reflects, embraces, and enjoys the diversity of its context, and by the power of the gospel transcends it and creates one new community in Christ where unity in diversity is celebrated (based on the definition of M4 Intercultural). 

Intercultural worship helps people from different cultures to worship God together and connect with him and one another.

The mission of Songs2Serve is to make intercultural worship accessible


Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture

We base ourselves on the Lutheran ‘Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture’ from 1996:

  1. Worship is transcultural.
  2. Worship is contextual.
  3. Worship is counter-cultural.
  4. Worship is cross-cultural.

1) Worship is transcultural. It has certain shared liturgical elements that are expressions of unity with the worldwide body of Jesus. You may think of the fact that we worship, pray Our Father, eucumenical creeds, baptism in the name of the Trinity, Holy Communion. This reflects that the body of Christ transcends time and space. Worship is first and foremost a lifestyle of magnifying God and meeting Him.

2) Worship is contextual. It reflects local patterns of speech, dress, and other cultural characteristics. We want to bring our message across in a culturally relevant way. Our question is: which music is most fitting to the city/context we are called to?

Mission organisations such as WEC Arts Release and Inspiro Arts Alliance studied this subject and concluded that people from urban contexts, especially the educated, often enjoy a mix of styles, ideas and instruments from the global community.

We find ourselves in a ‘fruit salad’ of music, where one culture touches the other one and influences its taste. We have contacts with different people for whom music has different functions – one culture (Western) is focused on language in music, the other wants to hear complicated rhythms, the other one melodies and another one harmonies.

In some cultures it is about the shared experience of singing together in a group – singing, clapping and dancing unites people to one another and to God- others are focused on what music does emotionally and whether it helps people in their daily lives. For some cultures singing and believing are synonymous, and meeting God means singing and dancing. That is the diversity of the context in which we work!

3) Worship is counter-cultural. Worship is critical of its culture, it distances itself from the idolatry of any given culture. This means that we want to be very much aware about aspects of the culture of our church members that contradict Kingdom principles. Therefore we will continue to submit each aspect of it to the Bible. When we meet God and lead a church in this, we adhere to His principles. For instance, in a culture it may be custom that a worship leader always has the final say ‘over’ the singers and musicians. In the culture of the Kingdom we do not find this and there we have respect for the input of each other. At the same time we hold leadership in high esteem, for that too is a Biblical given – but this can be tricky in a Western setting.

4) Worship is cross-cultural. It shows that we can respect and celebrate our differences. Worship expression may vary by culture but God is glorified in a special way through that, especially when we learn to worship Him together!

Roohol Ghodos روح القدوس | Farsi & English Worship | Cover by Songs2Serve
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