Worship leaders — take a moment and imagine this. It’s 7:00 am on a Sunday morning. You’re wrapping up your first cup of coffee as you prepare for your team to arrive for sound check. One by one they trickle in. Instrumentalists are setting up for a line check, vocalists are sipping on their hot tea, the media team is getting situated in the booth, and the choir members are gathering in the loft. Finally, your drummer comes running in last minute looking as though his morning has not started off in his favor (there’s always one).
You ask your team to bow their heads in prayer. As you say amen, you open your eyes and see all of the people God has entrusted to you to lead. What do you see? Who is represented? Does the stage reflect the community? Reflect the Kingdom? Are you surrounded by different generations? Different social backgrounds? Different ethnicities? Or does the stage look a little more one-dimensional?
I should preface this post by admitting that the stage I lead from is not completely three-dimensional. We represent all generations and several social backgrounds, but ethnically, we stand primarily Caucasian. This is certainly not by choice nor design. It is just a fact. Why is this? Let’s briefly explore some of the possible reasons to a one-dimensional stage:
Your community does not reflect multiple ethnicities. Demographics show that the area is populated predominately by one ethnicity.
Your congregation does not reflect multiple ethnicities.
You’ve tried recruiting others but have had no turnout.
You haven’t tried to recruit.
These four broad reasons awaken a mass of hidden reasons within our churches, communities, and hearts. For the sake of time, however, we will cover the importance of a diverse worship ministry rather than unpack detailed reasons on why they are rare. So, why is a three-dimensional stage vital to the life of the church?
1. We lead from the platform. Every person on the stage is seen as a leader. Whether they play an actual leadership role or not, they are visually representing the church. Our stage should represent the values of Kingdom-minded worship.
2. God has uniquely gifted each person. Every person on the platform brings something important to the team. Whether in talent, spirit, or attitude, God has blessed them with giftings to ultimately bless His name.
3. We learn from one another. In regard to all generations, the young need the wisdom of the old and the old need the vibrant youth of the young.
4. It is a visual representation of Heavenly worship! John’s vision of Heavenly worship in 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
5. It bridges gaps. When the stage is diverse, church members and visitors feel welcomed when they are represented. They are encouraged by the example being set.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list but is meant to draw your attention to the impact of a diverse platform.
How do we resolve the issue of a one-dimensional stage and move towards a diverse leadership platform? First, we must understand that the issue is present. Second, we must simply turn off the ignorance, die to self, and follow the example Jesus set for us. Third, we have to identify the why. Fourth, we must educate ourselves on the topic of diversity. Finally, we must take action.
Here are some practical tips to get you started. Again, this is not exhaustive but meant to move you towards diversifying your teams.
Pray! We cannot forget the power of prayer. I am often guilty of putting limitations on God’s ability to work. Pray and expect results.
Research multi-ethnic churches and interview their pastor or worship pastor. Why try to reinvent the wheel when someone is currently finding success?
Develop relationships with other worship leaders in your community that are older or younger and of a different ethnic background. Pray for one another.
Change up your music to incorporate other ethnicities. Don’t be afraid to venture into different styles. (Side note: do not sacrifice genuine hearts of worship or lyrical content for this sake. It should also be done with excellence. If you cannot pull it off as a team, take your time and don’t force it).
Invite a guest worship leader of a different ethnicity to lead a Sunday morning service, night of worship, or conference at your church.
Serve elsewhere in your community or nearby diverse neighborhoods. Witness and invite them to church. This must be done with compassion to serve, not self-gain.
The church must make intentional moves towards Kingdom-minded corporate worship. We must strive to represent every nation, tribe, and tongue.
I conclude with this statement. Our stages should not misrepresent our hearts. Our move towards a diverse platform must come from genuine motives and attitude. We cannot misrepresent the Kingdom by diversifying our stage in order to portray a message that is untrue within our own hearts.