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Much has been made about 'blended' worship and 'balanced worship' as we attempt to rid ourselves of the ugly effects of worship wars. The underlying philosophy of BeyondWorship™ is that, rather than separate ourselves into differing worship camps, we should adopt The Indigenous Worship Voice© instead.
'Indigenous' refers to everything in worship that captures the heart of the faith community. Indigenous contains a strong sense of where and how the Spirit of God is leading. It also speaks not only of what comes from the people within, but what conveys to the people outside the walls of the particular church.
'Worship' is defined as the connection of the faith community, in its rather ordinary life, with the extraordinary mystery of God. God is active and worshipping Christians know that He is present here and now. God initiates a meeting, and we respond to his grace by bringing forth our finest offering. Worship is the ultimate goal of our faith, the releasing of our entire beings to the guidance and purpose of God.
'Voice' refers to the language in which our worship takes place. It is a collection of symbols (such as words, pictures, songs, architecture, use of the body) in order to make something tangible in time and space. It is the best we can come up with to express an inexpressible reality.
When the three words are used together (Indigenous Worship Voice), then, we are talking about truly being ourselves as we try to make sense of God among us. We don't have to be like anyone else. We don't have to imitate or 'keep up' with other churches that seem to be 'doing worship' better than we are! We are simply allowed to be truly unique, devout, and expressive in our worship. This is the kind of authenticity that BeyondWorship coaches believe God is seeking.
The great paradox of the Indigenous Worship Voice is that by giving up all of our agendas and ambitions, we are rewarded by a gracious God who takes us as we are, shapes us for his purpose, and uses us beyond what we could ask or imagine! This means that perfecting our voice through formula, practice, and (sometimes) gimmickry, is less important than letting go of our program ideas and living as God intended: by his Spirit, sure of our intention, connected with each other, and true to our mission.
(For more information about the theology and practice of this unique model of worship leadership, consider ordering the full document entitled The Indigenous Worship Voice by Dr. Kelly Ballard through BeyondWorship.)
Director, Doctor of Ministry Program/Associate Professor, Pastoral Studies, George Fox Evangelical Seminary/George Fox University
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