Imagine your church filled with people of multiple colors, nationalities, economic levels, and political beliefs all worshipping God together. The problem with that scenario is that most of us imagined how great it could be as long as they made the needed changes to worship the same way we do.
Not in my style may really and truly mean not my kind of people, except when it comes time for the yearly youth group trip to Mexico. Why are we willing to go outside the church to diversify when we are failing to do so within?
The multitude of God’s people are standing before the throne of God sheltered by His presence in chapter 7 of John’s Revelation. His vision of every tribe and tongue together as one is a heavenly model of intercultural worship.
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen’” (Revelation 7:9-12)! So if we are not meant to be segregated as we worship in Heaven, then why are we so segregated as we worship here on earth?
Harold Best wrote, “It is a spiritually connected culture that takes cultural differences, works through the tensions that they may create and comes to the blessed condition of mixing and reconciling them and of stewarding their increase and growth.” Maybe if we could first learn to love, respect, understand, and defer to each other outside of the worship service it could impact our worship inside the service as well.
Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in this nation.” Not much has changed since his original statement 50 years ago so maybe it’s time for us to try something new.
Worship & the Racial Divide Panel Discussion
Presenters: Grant English, Lead Pastor – Western Hills Church, Topeka, Kansas; T.D. Hicks, Pastor – Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas; DeAndre Hicks, Worship Leader – Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas; Donneisha Smith, Worship Leader – Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas; Rick Stones, Worship Leader – Western Hills Church, Topeka, Kansas.
Dr. David Manner, Executive Director, Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, is moderator.