I am not picky about very many things, but when it comes to Worship (with a capital “W”), I am very particular.
I grew up singing hymns, and they are still my worship preference. Congregations singing songs so familiar they barely need the music? Yes please.
During my time in college, I got to pick my own church. In the process of moving from a home church to a “real” church, we decided to sit in a circle during the service. We also decided to be barefoot, since we started our church in the winter, and the hardwood floors would be slippery and dangerous if we were to wear our shoes indoors. So, my taste developed to a barefoot kind of worship.
Indonesia is different. There is no cultural Christianity, only cultural Islam. The call of prayer echos between the buildings, but it is not my prayer, not my worship. While searching for a church home here, I settled, for the first time, in a play with 100% contemporary music, and slowly, I am learning to worship in a new way.
My church here is (pretty much) obsessed with two major Worship Music Machines from Australia: Hillsong United and Citipointe. On the whole, I like both groups. However, deep down, I secretly held tightly onto a thread of distain for the repetitive lyrics and pre-packadged Christianity they portrayed: flashing lights, electro-beats, pop culture… that’s great, but is it the message I want to be focusing on when I worship?
However, when my friends and I traveled in Australia, we stayed with s0me of our other co-workers and friends, Nathan and Naomi. In a convestation about Australian culture and how it differs from British and American culture, Nathan told me that there is no culture of Christianity in Australia. In fact, being a Christian is pretty rare in Australia.
“So what,” you may be asking. “How does that change your opinion of a techno-beat-flashing-lights version of Jesus?”
From my perspective, it’s all about revival. For me, my relationship with God isn’t based on a “you are- you are- you are- my freedom!” experience. (Although it is a “Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders/ take me deeper than my feet could ever wander” relationship.) However, for Australia, it seems like their Jesus culture is more calibrated to celebrating the incredible joy and love of God. Maybe because there is nothing holding them back, or because it is all new energy and raw love, but either way, they have been able to craft something that I (regardless of my past feelings) truly believe is worship, too. And, while I still don’t thrive in that environment, I can’t deny that when I sing with my congregation here in Jakarta, I am able to worship. When I was singing, hands up, lights flashing, in Hillsong: Melbourne City, I was worshiping. And even though I long to stand barefoot in a circle, singing with only a guitar and a keyboard and a hymn I know well, I am learning to open my heart to the song and connection of the here and now.
And I think that means I am learning to worship.