Tonight was the next-to-last session of worship for Rockbridge, and once again I am so thankful for the ministry of InterVarsity and what God is doing in us in the area of multiethnicity. In the worship set tonight we went from a gospel song to a song in Swahili to a song in Hindi to a gospel-style medley to a Chris Tomlin song. I can’t describe how great it was to see students of all races worshiping God through various styles and forms, and not just going through the motions but really entering in and enjoying the different cultures represented. They were dancing along with the Gospel song, trying to sing the words in the Hindi verses, shouting in the call and response of the Swahili song. And they were being led by a worship team of black, white, and Asian students and staff who were all taking turns leading the music and singing. It was especially sweet for me to be led in a Hindi song by a white student from Wake Forest who, I am guessing, never would have thought his role as worship leader would have included that style of song. Yet he led us in praise to Jesus, and you could see joy on his face as he pronounced some very difficult words.
To me this is such a picture of what the Church should look like, worshippers of different races in one place, leading one another to see a bigger and bigger picture of the Lord Jesus and different ways to respond to Him in love. Perhaps it’s just that I have a heart for multiethnicity (ME), so I enjoy things like this. But I doubt that all 400 of the college students here at camp had ME as a high value or had even experienced worship like this anywhere except maybe Urbana. Yet they have embraced it and they worshipped God, whether or not they understood the words they were singing (we also sang this week in Hebrew, Korean, Tswana, French, Spanish, and Mohawk (Native American). I have seen African American students worshipping their heart out to “white” contemporary Christian songs and white students making up dances to gospel songs. This generation is so open to being shown new ways to praise God.
And so now it is hard to go back to my home church where our worship music is nowhere near as diverse. This doesn’t mean that the music is bad or insincere or that I am being critical of what is there. It’s just that being here with IV reminds me of all the worship forms that are not at my church (or at most churches), and I really think that when our worship is more monocultural, we are missing out on seeing and experience more of God. I know that in a few weeks I will reacclimate myself to worship that is more main-stream evangelical, and I will enjoy meeting God in that form, while still hoping and waiting to see the Church (and my church) move towards being a place of diversity in unity as we worship one Lord through many languages, styles, and expressions.
PS For a taste of what we were enjoying, or to even begin a journey of diversifying your own worship experience, order a copy of One Calling, Live, the worship CD from Urbana.