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Multicultural Worship: Fear, Hurt and Conviction

Peter playing the bass
The following is a reflection from Peter Kihyun Park, who is a co-leader of the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network
It’s been over two years since I left a presbyterian church in Minneapolis as their worship director. They had hired me to help them transition from traditional music to become more multicultural.  But two years later I got a call on Christmas Eve that my paycheck would be cut in half.  And, after many vague conversations, church politics, and confidential meetings, it was time to leave.
As you can imagine it was a really difficult for my family to move to another church, but I didn’t feel like it was a healthy environment for us to remain in, which is to say that I’m hesitant to head back into multicultural worship ministry.  I play bass from time to time at the Brazilian church, but I’ve only picked up my guitar a few times.
My desire to lead worship with music is still there, but I’m scared of getting hurt again. But I can’t deny what I see in the Scriptures about the multicultural church and how important it is.
Jesus and the woman at the well in an African culture
What Jesus shows us about breaking your own cultural barriers
Culture is how a group of people express their values in as tangible way.  Some of it is good and some of it is a hindrance. And when you’re involved with multicultural worship ministry you need to begin to navigate, if you haven’t already, through your own culture, and also the culture of other people in the congregation.  This is no easy task because of the unique experiences of each individual.
But what we see in the life of Jesus, and I might be wrong, is that he was willing to break through barriers of his own culture, as a Jew, to share what God was in the process of doing in their midst...redeeming them and freeing them of their own cultural barriers.
For example, Jesus in talking to a Samaritan woman in John 4.  This is a big no-no for a Jewish person, but Jesus has something important to say in his message, right?
Part of what he explains to her is that it’s not going to matter if you express your worship to God in Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim.  What matters most is worshiping God IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH.
Could Jesus be talking about himself and the Holy Spirit here? Isn’t Jesus the Truth? (John 1:1) Isn’t the Spirit...well, the Holy Spirit? (Luke 24:29)
Peter Kihyun ParkWhat does this mean for me?
I don’t know when I’ll have the courage to lead multicultural worship again, but throughout the Scriptures it’s clear to me that ALL OF US were made to worship together.  It’s a vitally important part of the gospel message.
Our new CHURCH CULTURE calls us to be a forgiving people because we’ve been redeemed by a forgiving God.  And multicultural worship is one of those tangible ways we can express our understanding of this truth.
So, maybe...just maybe..learning to forgive some of the people at our previous church is how I can find healing, courage, and joy to lead multicultural worship again.
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