How To Lead Multi-national Worship: 7 Tips From SOZO Festival

NOTE: This post is part of my on-going Mission Trip 2012 series.

I recorded this video after reflecting on our worship times at SOZO Festival. This is “shop talk” for worship leaders and I wanted to capture my thoughts while they were hot off the press.

SOZO is a unique context of worshiping with multiple nations, languages, and cultures.

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One of the SOZO worship values is to be as inclusive.  We have much to learn from cultures not like our own. Even more, we have much to learn from facing and overcoming the challenges that presents.

 What was The Biggest Lesson Learned?

You have no choice but to be very dependent on the Holy Spirit.

Here’s Seven Tips I download in the video.

1. Be aware of what God is doing.

  • Look for “God sightings” and how they would apply to influencing your worship planning and leading.
  • Be extra alert for the voice of the Lord. Be looking for scriptures to share.
  • Be receptive to Divine Appointments. Who you bump into may not be so “random” , consider what that might mean.
  • Listen for songs that pop up. Example: I could sing of Your Love

2. Be sensitive to the context and plan accordingly.

  • Think about the vocal range of the keys you’re singing in. For example, extravagant, celebratory praise at night was in a higher vocal key than early morning devotional worship, most of the songs were in a lower vocal range.
  • Think about the worship journey over a multi-day event. What are the core songs that you want to embrace and play in heavy rotation?
  • Have peaks and valleys and plan to change it up over the sessions. Go from rocking praise & celebration to adoration in the beauty realm of God.
  • Think of how your directions and instruction can be translated. Leave space for the interpertor to speak.

3. Simplify. Make it easy to follow you.

  • Break a new song down into easy to explain parts.  Clearly show how the people can immediately participate.

4. Feed them the lines.

  • This also known as “Cue-ing” or telling the lyric before the people sing it. This is vital if you’re doing a song with no projection (such was our case). I generally find people will step up their participation if I feed them the lines.  On the other hand , over-used it can get annoying.
  • Use Antiphonal and Repeated phrases. This is also known as “call & response” or echo singing.

5. Actively pursue singing the new spontaneous song.

This can take several forms such as

A. Sing the “song of the Lord” Simple riffs from scripture and the overflow of what is on your heart to say. Or what you feel God wants to be expressed.

b. Sing “Oh” simple vowel sounds, music without words. This would be “singing in the spirit”

c. Sing “Alleluia” the word “alleluia” literally means “praise to God”, it is translated the same in almost every language and is universal in it’s meaning.

 6. Make it the work of the people.

In our example of “I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever”, it was so refreshing to have the worship sound originate from the “congregation.” Each nation sang a chorus in their own language. It truly was the work of the people.

7. Depend on the Holy Spirit.

You can say “depend on the Holy Spirit” in most contexts, but the lesson I learned is – only the Holy Spirit can pull this off.

There is much opportunity for disaster.

But God has been gracious to open our eyes to see Him a new way. It’s inspiring when we humble ourselves and see him with people different from us in so many ways.  And yet we have the love of God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ that brings us all together in the Holy Spirit and the fruit is – amazing.

Question:  Any tips or observations you would add to this list?

 
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