Multicultural worship is always striving to find the balance between worship that is accessible to whole group and worship that is authentic to the particular cultural styles represented. Practically, it looks like, “Should we make this song easy for everybody to sing and understand, or do we present it as an accurate reproduction of the intended cultural style despite the fact that it will leave 90% of the congregation confused and alienated?” Most churches (especially from my tradition, reformed) would say “accessibility is king!” But, in a multicultural church we have to recognize that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. What’s simple and understandable to me is confusing to someone else. Also, authenticity is very important to showing honor to the culture from which a song is born. We’ve all experienced the awkward and sometimes offensive attempts of someone who doesn’t know us or understand us try to relate by playing your music, but badly. At best it’s totally lame. At worst, it comes off as a derogatory stereotype (for example the history of Minstrel Shows in the United States.)
So what do we work toward? Authentic or accessible?
What’s great about our God is that he has given us a means to make our worship accessible and authentic to him. Worship is accessible to God through the ministry of the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. He is the Way. He is the temple, the sacrifice, the priest, and the Risen King who intercedes for us. Our worship is always accessible to God. God’s worship must always be authentic. Authenticity to the Lord is worship that defends the cause of the widow and orphan, that does justly and loves mercy and walks humbly. Worship that is inauthentic claims to love God while ignoring the cries of God’s children. Through the resurrection power of Jesus, we can also pursue justice and mercy which reflects authentic worship before the Lord. It’s all an act of grace from first to last. God saved us in order to do good works that were prepared in advance for us to accomplish. The Good Shepherd leads his sheep into paths of righteousness.
So, in multicultural worship, as we wrestle with the issues of accessibility and authenticity, we can be assured that we have a high priest who can sympathize with the struggle. He had to make himself a man for us. He had to be the perfect blend of accessible and authentic for us so that we could be able to worship in fellowship with the Father just as he is one with the Father.