Friday, April 01, 2005

Worship Wars Part 2

Well, I just resolved an interesting issue that actually ties to my last post. There were some accusations made about me from a mission trip in January 2003. Considering how many mission trips I take, that I work in music (which is always a sensitive and touches people to the core), and the degree of differences between my culture and the cultures in which I most often work, this in and of itself is not surprising. It was not pleasant and disappointing, because I did not expect it, because people love to gossip and make more of accusations than they need to, and because I never wanted to do anything but bless the people I was there to serve. Also, the issue came up 2.5 years after the fact and I had been in touch with the people involved a number of times since then. So, it seemed a bit late. But anyway, at core, the elders of a church I visited at this man's invitation iun Goiania, Brasil were upset and felt I was insensitive to their traditional style of worship and cultural situation. Because of a contemporary concert I was brought in and asked to do. But by someone else, not them.

I realized when I got there that the church was more traditional than I expected and I had prepared musical material that might prove challenging. But I also had rehearsed a program with musicians paid to work with me, and it was hard to just switch it around last minute. As I recall, it is hard to remember something 2 years ago, I did adjust my performance style and tone it down a little bit. BUT nonetheless, my host felt he tried to ask me to be more sensitive and I failed to do so. To be fair to myself, he admits he used a subtler way of telling me, and expected, as Brazilians do, that I would fill in the blanks. I did not to his satisfaction, though he says that he himself thought the concert was fabulous and the majority of those in attendance enjoyed it very much. It is just church elders and leaders who later made it an issue. This is most unfortunate as my host was put through the fire. And I had nothing but the best of intentions. Additionally, a local school they sponsor loved me and wants me back, but it is difficult to return given this controversy.

So you see, even in my own work, I have lots to learn. Of course, my awareness of Brazilian culture and even traditional worship culture has grown a lot from my 1.5 years working at a very traditional church recently as well as studying Brazilian culture, interacting with Brazilians, and travelling there more often. So I have grown, and my host in meeting with me agreed that things now would probably be very different. It certainly gives me things to think about and work through as I seek to grow into a better, more sensitive worship leader and trainer.

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