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Prologue: Bringing Diversity To Your Worship

As a worship leader for over 40 years in, primarily, self-described non-denominational, protestant type churches throughout the US, it seemed reasonable to me that the style of music during worship was distinctly white in predominantly white congregations and distinctly black in predominantly black congregations. Even Martin Luther King once said, “Everyone knows that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in American life.”


Then in the early 1980s the family of churches I was a part of began planting churches throughout the world that were distinctly multi-racial. As a young, idealistic man and sincere Jesus follower I was genuinely thrilled and honestly, intimidated, by the prospect of planning a worship service which included musical styles of the members of the local church. Now, forgive my over-generalizing here, but, how do we combine white, 10 pound stained glass, beautiful, controlled high-church music along with black Gospel, raw, passionate and expressive music? With the one, you had to stand still, almost motionless, and the other, well, there is no way you can stand still with a moving bass, bangin’ drums, heavenly organ and screamin’ chorus!


From there, one group felt the other’s music was boring and non-expressive, while the other group said theirs was out of control, show off, not beautiful - you get the point. So which side was “right” or “more spiritual”? Neither! They were just different. Each person was moved toward God, usually, more by the music they were accustomed to or grew up with and the exact same thing could be said of every single one. The answer? Jesus. Jesus is who brings all of us together! Male or female. Jew or Gentile. Slave or free. Wealthy or poor. Educated or uneducated. Black or white or any shade in-between. Be curious about, not afraid of those who are simply different than you. Then we can explore our wonderful and beautiful differences. Isn’t that what Jesus cam here to accomplish? If we can do that, then we won’t be upset about a style of music that is simply “different” from the style we grow up with.


I dream about what the music in the new heaven and the new earth will sound like; but I am certain that whatever it sounds like, we’ll be singing it, together.


Excerpt From

Bringing Diversity To Your Worship

by Kevin Darby

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