"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Developing Student Praise and Worship

Worship in Different Cultures

Dave Livermore

Worship regards and adores God by glorifying him with our thoughts and actions. Worship without the nurturing of the Word is an incomplete growth experience (just as teaching the Word without worship is incomplete). Worship allows us to respond to God for all he is and does.

? What happens at your regular gathering that directs attention upward toward God?

? Can people of diverse ages and backgrounds freely express their adoration to God at your growth times?

? Are there outlets for public worship beyond music? If so, what?

? How else can you foster public worship as a group?

Throughout my years in ministry, extended times together have often been some of the most meaningful opportunities to corporately respond to God. It's no accident that the priorities for growth fuel one another. As we build community, dig into the Word and serve God and others together, our response to God in worship becomes more meaningful. I have also found that many of our best times of responding to God happened when we didn't expect it. Sometimes after a great rehearsal, when all the instruments were perfectly tuned and the sound and lights were running well, our worship time has been weak. Other times, when sitting stranded on the side of the road, we have spontaneously begun talking aloud to God, singing, sitting quietly and reading Scripture together.

We must regularly create opportunities for believers to collectively respond to God. We must also be sensitive to times when the Spirit wants us to lead our groups in corporate worship, even, if it isn't planned.

Disciplemaking Around the World

Australia: St. Martin's church in Melbourne is known for its spontaneity and openness in worship. Services are planned but also leave room for redemptive moments that are unprogrammed. They encourage the full expression of Christian imagination, featuring indigenous art with Christian themes (much is postmodern). Wall hangings by church members fill the sanctuary.(3)

England: Revelation Church in southern England works hard to discover ways to worship through visual symbols and creative arts. Sometimes during services, artists are encouraged to draw what they feel as the body worships together. Sometimes sculptors and potters work on the side during the meeting. The art-often speaks for itself, while other times artists are encouraged to interpret their portrayal of worship.(4)

India: Some of my richest times of worship in recent days have been with our partnering ministries in India. As the churches in India undergo intensified persecution, their corporate times of worship also seem to intensify. Several churches I have visited allow time in their services for church members to spontaneously come forward and sing a song reflecting their hearts' desire to worship God. Before and after the song, Scripture is usually read and testimonies are shared about how God has superseded in one's life amid spiritual persecution during the week.

Kenya: Many European-driven churches in Africa have floundered because of their failure to engage Africans emotionally as well as intellectually in worship.

In contrast, those African churches that have moved away from some of the styles brought to them by Western missionaries have lively worship that allows them to express themselves holistically. For example, foreigners sometimes mistake prayer meetings for dance parties because dance has become an integral part of African worship. Many African believers look forward to this time of expressing love to God with their whole selves.

Malaysia: To help youth make prayer more than simply asking God for things, many Malaysian youth ministries have incorporated concerts of prayer as a regular part of their gatherings of believers. Youth will sometimes spend several hours moving through different elements of prayer. They praise God for who he is through singing, stating names of God and sharing testimonies of his character and work in their lives. They spend time in silent confession-sometimes on their knees and other times with their faces in their hands, expressing shame. Psalms and other Scripture passages are often integrated throughout the concert of prayer. The prayer times include a time of petition and opportunities to pray for rescue from the evil one. While youth initially dreaded the thought of extended prayer times, they now wait with anticipation for the monthly concerts of player.

Seattle: Church members have regular opportunities to express themselves during worship in ways other than singing. Newsprint fills the walls of the church and participants write a name or attribute of God for which they are especially thankful. Non-musical members often express their gratefulness for an outlet that extends corporate worship beyond songs.

South Africa: The large gathering of believers in Johannesburg includes a diverse mixture of races at any given service. You better check your pulse if you aren't moved by joining the corporate praise with the multicultural congregation at Rhema Church in Johannesburg. The musical genres purposely reflect the diverse congregation. While a great deal of the country still remains racially divided, Rhema Church and others like it are pictures of the new earth and the body of Christ worshiping together for eternity.

Action Plan for Worship in Your Ministry

? What are strengths and weaknesses of the worship in your ministry?

? How could the priority of worship be strengthened in your ministry?

? What is the first step?


This article comes from pages 109-112 of Connecting Your Journey With the Story of God: Disciplemaking in Diverse Contexts, by Dave Livermore. Copyright 2001 by Sonlife Ministries, all rights reserved. Used by permission.

Dave serves as international director of Sonlife Ministries in Elburn, Illinois.

In this book he asks the question, "If Jesus were in my shoes, with my experiences, in this community, how would he make disciples?"? It helps us to think through the process of disciplemaking, based on the life of Jesus, and helps us discover how this process applies to our own unique cultural context. Order it from Sonlife Ministries at www.sonlife.com.