One of the ways we move forward in the development of multi-ethnic congregations is through peer learning. The following is a great example. It’s an email from one pastor to another on how to navigate multi-ethnic worship issues while transitioning a white church into a multi-ethnic one.
When it comes to diversity in our worship, our song selection probably looks like most of yours as it typically comes from the CCL types of play lists.
However, there are a 3-4 times a year where we add some songs that will be sung in both English and Spanish. We will sing the song first in English, then tag it in Spanish, alternating between the languages. This lets people know what they are singing and keeps them engaged so they don’t drop out and just watch.
Several years we have had a full Mariachi Band, in traditional costume, leading us in worship. We’ve had some great God stories to go with it as we got started when I had the privilege of leading one lead singer to the Lord. He then led his 3 band mates to the Lord. We had a fun baptism where all four shared their stories. He has now completed Bible School and is in full-time ministry in our city.
Every other year we will have an African led service. We have missionary partnerships in several African countries so one year we will have the Mwangaza children’s choir of Uganda. And another year we might have the drum line from Rwanda. It really raised the level of anticipation as you came into the parking lot and saw a group of guys in African dress, beating the drums. No one slept through that service!
The short answer is that we have found a little sprinkling through the year allows everyone to grow a heart for diversity, while still allowing our folks to worship in a style that is most familiar to them. Another way to bring a multi-cultural element, and let others know that you are trying, is to add another language into your welcome. It could be as simple as saying, “Welcome, bienvenidos, we’re glad you’re here to worship with us…”
In your sermon you can give a nod to other cultures by using more than just white type of names. Instead of just saying, Tom and Betty; you could say Jose y Maria… Now be careful not to come across as condescending or wooden. And as a side note, if you don’t know what Menudo (not the band) and Barbacoa are, don’t say you like it, or you may end up with a sweet Abuela (Grandmother), saying Mijo (my son), I made you some!