When we choose to follow our identity in Christ, we are led into a more perfect worship experience with Him. When we love Christ more, we love our neighbors more. This simple result of maintaining our proper and godly identity will lead us into greater multicultural worship experiences. We cannot help but see our neighbors through a different lens once we see ourselves the way God sees us.
However, this new entrance into multiethnic worship experiences can be awkward at times. We may find ourselves unable to focus on worship due to the different language being sung, the different methods of worship being performed, or the different outward expressions of worship that other cultures portray.
Mark Charles, a Navajo Christian, once wrote of his experience worshipping with an indigenous group in Siberia. The method of worship this group was comfortable with was throat singing. The video below exemplifies a sample of the type of singing. The actual throat singing occurs around the 2:25 mark.
Charles makes the comment that he was initially uncomfortable with the method of worship. It’s not that he felt the expression of worship was wrong. It’s that he didn’t know how to reconcile his own expression of worship with something so foreign.
A lot of us may find ourselves with similar feelings in similar situations.
How do we effectively love and worship Christ in a setting that is completely new and even weird to us as Western Christians?
We must not let the awkwardness of rarity keep us from worshipping Christ when we enter into situations like this. There are ways to overcome our base feelings in the heat of the moment and enter into a truly unifying worship experience amidst the weird-to-us new experience.
Missionaries experience instances like this all the time. There are always new cultures to experience and new ways to enter into Christian worship. When we open our minds and hearts to new and foreign expressions of worship, we grow in our relationship with Christ. Don’t let fear of the unknown or the weird keep you from growing in faith in Christ.
Here are some thoughts on how to overcome the awkwardness of multicultural worship to truly worship Christ in new cultural contexts:
- Embrace the awkwardness. Don’t try to hide the fact that you feel weird. Look around and take in the whole experience at the beginning. Don’t worry about trying to force worship. Listen, learn, and try your best to follow suit with what’s happening around you. This will help your mind accustom itself to what is happening in your immediate surroundings and allow for a less distracted worship experience later in the service.
- Absorb the experience. If you find yourself in a service with an indigenous throat singer leading worship, take it all in. Try not to treat the service like a concert, but at least allow yourself to take in the experience without trying to force anything to happen. Remember that in the beginning you are learning about other cultures and their expression of worship. Try to take the cues of the worship leader with your you should worship. Don’t try to instill your cultural worship preferences into this new experience.
- Be at peace. Don’t allow awkwardness to take precedence over the situation. Being at peace in a potentially awkward situation is a choice. You have to overcome your present feelings and emotions with a sense of peace. The Holy Spirit is a great (and probably only) help for this. Choose to not focus on your feelings if they are prioritizing awkwardness but on what’s occurring.
- Embrace Christ.After awhile, you’ll start feeling more comfortable. When you don’t allow your inner-weird-gauge to dictate your worship experience, you’ll find yourself being surprisingly comfortable in near any situation. The peace of God is tremendous. After you’ve gone through the practical learning experience of a new worship experience, simply start asking the Holy Spirit to reveal more of Christ through this worship. We can know nothing of God without the help of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can learn and experience God in any situation through the help of the Holy Spirit. Learn about this new, foreign expression of worship, but allow yourself some time to find and embrace Christ in it all.
Be adventurous in your relationship in Christ. When you start loving your neighbors as yourselves, start learning about worship from their unique cultural expressions. These learning experiences will lead you into greater intimacy with your Creator. Get in touch with us if you’d like to bring a multiethnic, multicultural worship experience to your church.