Posts Tagged ‘Worship’

Worship

December 11, 2006

Worship is the heartbeat of God. He rejoices when we take time out of our lives to make a display that we desire his presence. It’s amazing how much worship is wrapped around culture. While God accepts many styles of worship, the worshipper feels more or less connected based on the style. This gets very specific. Most peoples worship through music of some sorts. Reading through “All the World Is Singing” showed how culture forms the basis of worship. Many times when a missionary gives the good news to a people group, the message is packaged in a Western form of logic, vocabulary and individualistic connotation. Same goes for worship music and church style. Many times a new church will look like one from the West: 25 minutes of hymns or guitar/keyboard based music, and a 45 minute sermon. Other cultures prefer drums, gongs, and local instruments in timing and rhythms that sound weird to westerners (for an example go to Heart Sounds International). Other cultures listen to bible stories for hours at a time and get frustrated with westerners who can only preach for an hour. From this book it was amazing to see how much joy the local believers had when they could worship God with their own idiom and style of music. Some described it as “God was speaking to their heart, using their heart language.” The church was then more prepared to evangelize their own community. They would go through out the villages playing their new songs and the villagers would stop what they were doing to come out and listen. This is so much better then us as missionaries trying to use our methods. Reading the book gave me a taste of what heaven would be like. Revelation 7:9-10 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!””. I can’t wait to be praising God in the key of G with 4/4 timing, right beside someone else dancing to an African drum, next to someone from a Muslim background reverently bowing before God.

Missiology: Indigenous Church/When to leave?

September 18, 2006

This discussion comes from questions raised in a book called “Searching for the indigenous church” by Gene Daniels. Currently I am reading “Career Defining Crisis in Missions” by Paul Keidel which has insights into the same topics, hence look forward to an updated discussion.

So the overall question raised is, can we as outsiders recognize or create a truly indigenous church?
First we need a working definition of an indigenous church. A community of believers who worship Christ according to their cultural norms. The structure and methods of the community are created through the host culture seeking God in Scripture.
To help us separate our conception of church with seats and western music and logical/academic sermons I’ll use the term Christward movement to describe what may be called an indigenous church.

According to Daniels, we will never be able to explain the indigenous church and it is not something that we as outsiders can search out or find. That was two-part, let me digress and give my thoughts. If we as outsiders come into a culture preaching Christ, we use our Western background as a framework. We need to completely reduce the gospel to it’s message and not the Western message we make it. The key message: the God who created us enabled us to have relationship with Him by the means of Christ on the cross. We often make it about progress in Christ, individualism, we are prone to works-righteousness, we use 4/4 timing and modern music. This is not the gospel. So back to Daniels’, if we actively seek out the indigenous church/christward movement, we begin by looking for what we know as a church, we may find bits and pieces,but also unfamiliar forms of worship and reasoning. So we feel the need to teach the “right way” In the end we change the movement to fit our interpretations of the host culture instead of allowing the host culture to decide. As a missionary it was Daniels’ goal to establish a Church. He began with what he knew and ended up with something his young native leaders did not know. They looked around and said this was not thier church, but his. Now that is a reality check! Daniels realized that he did not know how to create an indigenous church or what one might even look like! Which brings us back to the question at hand, can we as outsiders ever know or even describe what we desire the world to be full of, a truely indigenous christward movement within every cultural. This book, nor this blog leaves you with no answers, just more questions.

Another question raised: when is it time to go home?
Another reality check for Daniels, is the day his lay leaders told him it was time to leave, that they wanted to run their Chirstward movement. When does a missionary say “yep you’re right you don’t need me,” and when do they assert themselves and say, “I think that you still need me and I’ll stick around.” One strategy is the Pauline approach of leaving the direct involvement of the new Christward movement and starting another evangelistic outreach to another community while overseeing the other movements he started. He often went back and visited and wrote letters to instruct and encourage different communities specifically dealing with their unique situations (hence the epistles). While this is a good model, it is harder to enact. I think Paul was the greatest administrator ever. Again, since we don’t know what we are looking for in order for a Christward movement to be sustainable, our first response is to stick around. Is there a place for the missionary to serve once the fellowship has reached this ambiguous state of indigenous? Is the missionary’s job done just because they have fulfilled their “two year stint, and need to return home for furlough?” Can we honestly convince ourselves that we are no longer vital for this movement to continue? is it our place to guide, or the Holy Spirit? That one I can answer, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to guide every community of believers. The missionary has the awkward job of deciding if the people are prepared or ready to listen with out their aid. Maybe, if from the very beginning we never put ourselves in leadership, but simply the bearer of a great message, placing the gospel and scriptures in the hands of others we will be able to watch as the Holy Spirit leads a group of believers to do what He created them for, to worship and love their creator.

Not many answers, but alot more questions.