Proskuneo loves to help Jesus-centered, multicultural worshiping communities live into their vision here on earth, as in heaven. This holiday season, we came alongside a local worship ministry to help them design and implement a multicultural Christmas program, including music, visual art, decorations, and stories from the congregation. In this blog, we will share with you some of our process and ideas in hopes that they might inform/encourage/inspire you in the work of cultivating multicultural Jesus-centered worshiping community right where you are.
- Diverse expression requires intentionality. We all have our go-to ways of planning, implementing, celebrating, thinking, evaluating. If we are not intentional, we will simply default to what we have always done. As a community continues to grow in diversity, we need to discover new ways and new expressions. And, that takes intentionality. As a diverse team, we started planning months ahead. We brainstormed different people in the congregation (inside and outside of the worship ministry) who could have a story or song or diverse expression to share. And then we took weeks to connect with probably a dozen people asking them open-ended questions like:
- What is a song from your language or culture that you grew up singing at Christmas time?
- How did you celebrate Christmas in your birth country?
- What’s a Christmas memory you’d like to share?
- ***We then designed and built the program around the answers to these questions.***
- We relied on a few unifying elements to stitch the program together. We decided decorations and stories would be our unifying elements. These categories are quite transcultural (every culture has decorations and stories!) and, at the same time allow for lots of diversity to be expressed (the kinds of stories and decorations will vary greatly from culture to culture). We then designed a simple flow of the evening that alternated songs (in which different people came and decorated empty Christmas trees with their own decorations) and stories from diverse people.
- We kept the overall purpose in mind. We wanted to create a shared experience of celebration. We wanted to offer the opportunity for many diverse people and expressions to come together to worship Jesus as one family. So, when it was time to decide how the decorating would take place, we nixed the idea of having people from Africa decorate one tree while people from Asia decorated another tree. Why? Because, that created a separate but equal vibe. Because it invited possibility for competition (we have more ornaments on our tree than they do on theirs.). Because one tree with many different ornaments/decorations gave a better visual picture of our overall purpose.
There’s a lot more I could say, but I thought you might appreciate some links to some of the songs we shared with choir, orchestra, and congregation (as global Christmas music can be hard to find!). Here goes:
Oh The King Has Come [a song in Korean and English from Proskuneo’s newly-released Proskuneo Christmas Album] We even hired a local janggu player from the Korean Cultural center to join us for this song. His presence and playing added so much!
Elu Agogo [a Nigerian Christmas song in Yoruba] We created a percussion break in the song and immediately people started to dance, without any kind of invitation.
Deck The Halls [a Jamaican band member suggested we do this song (which he grew up with) in a reggae style)]
Niño Lindo [a Latin American traditional “aguinaldo” in Spanish]
We also commissioned an artist in the congregation to paint live on stage during the entire service.
May God give you courage and creativity as you co-create new expressions of worship for your multicultural worshiping community. God is worthy of glory in every season!