Planning Worship to Unify the Body
By Nikki Lerner
Worship music can be one of the most divisive or unifying tools in the church today. It amazes me how many conversations I have had with fellow worship leaders and pastors centering around the subject of music and worship. People have left good churches because of disagreements about worship.
Services have been divided and labeled traditional or contemporary all because of something so simple as music. Really? Music? This is what we would be willing to risk friendship and community for? Music?
In this day and age of have-it-your-way worship services and even “worship wars,” I believe that a healthy, intentional, multicultural church has a great opportunity to use worship music as a tool to unify and not divide the people of God. After all, that is what Jesus cares about, right? Unity among the believers?
The Apostle Paul teaches us how to consider one another in 1 Corinthians 12: 24-25 (NIV): But God has put the Body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that it’s parts should have equal concern for each other.
The phrase that jumps off of the page for me is “equal concern.” As leaders who are pursuing healthy, intentional, multicultural churches, it is important to realize that we have to fight for our permission to remain creative when creating worshipping communities. The local church is immensely influenced by "Christian Industry:" Worship bands and music, the latest influential preacher, or the best-selling Christian book. Local denominations are influenced by the opinions of others within their denominations with regards to who is more “anointed” or what the latest curriculum or credential is.
Multicultural leaders need to remember that our goal is to honor Christ and honor one another by pursuing unity. Not sameness, but unity. After my experience of being a worship pastor for over 20 years at a local multicultural church, here is what I know to be true about the opportunity for worship and worship leaders to utilize music to unify the body.
When planning your multicultural worship set, think about the different types of people and cultures that you have represented in your church and how you might be able to best represent and honor those cultures through music and worship. What musical styles might minister to certain people? What types of instruments could bring honor to a specific culture? How many different languages could you sing in one song? Thinking through these types of questions can allow you as the leader to have “equal concern” for those in your church and give you the opportunity to model what true worship is about.
True worship is modeling what is given to us in Revelation Chapter 7 where a diversity of God’s people gather around the Lamb of God, bringing who they are culturally, and worshipping together! Multicultural leaders have the high calling of stepping into the creation of this beautiful reality. Find your permission, and lead.