As a worship team we have given a lot of time and thought to shaping the musical worship at Urbana 15. Since Urbana is about partnering with God in his work in the global church, it seemed our musical worship should reflect this. A diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual approach to musical worship is an opportunity to engage in good missiology before heading out on mission.
First, a good missionary assumes that God is already at work in a culture. So our first task was to receive songs from brothers and sisters around the world and around the country. At Urbana 15 we learned these songs together and got a glimpse of the ways God is working in the places and cultures the songs came from. It can be easy to focus on what we’re supposed to do when it comes to missions. But let’s begin by worshiping God for what he is already doing.
Second, a good missionary seeks to learn. Too often, North American missiology has been about bringing our culture. But missions is about observing, listening, and entering in to the culture of others. As we worshiped at Urbana, singing the songs that were gifted to us was more than an exercise in diversity. It was a chance to expand our understanding of God and our love for his magnificence.
Third, a diverse approach to worship helps us become more compassionate and caring toward others. We move from being self-focused to others-focused and God-focused. This means that we don’t just want to sing each other’s songs; we want to fully enter into each other’s stories. We want to learn from the ways that another community has embraced and intersected with the living God in a unique way.
A diverse approach to worship helps us become more compassionate and caring toward others. We move from being self-focused to others-focused and God-focused. This means that we don’t just want to sing each other’s songs; we want to fully enter into each other’s stories.
Finally, a good missionary doesn’t assume they will be a different person on the mission field than they are here. Urbana 15 likely introduced you to new sounds, songs, languages, smells, and tastes this week. But the week was a small taste of the newness you’ll experience when you fully immerse yourself in another culture as a missionary. Choosing a posture of humility, openness, curiosity, and eagerness now can prepare you in significant ways for whatever the Lord calls you to later.