Worship Leader Magazine and Diversity

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I’ve been a subscriber to Worship Leader magazine (www.worshipleader.com) for several years between two churches and have found the content helpful as I think about worship- and especially leading worship from a musical standpoint. Many of the authors, such as Paul Baloche and Darlene Zschech, are authors of songs that have meant a lot to me. But I must say that I was pretty disappointed in the most recent (May/June 2014) issue that I received in the mail.

The issue is focused on diversity. The cover art has the word “diversity” in red in the center of the page- followed by words expresses areas of diversity in worship. Some of those words are: Cultures, instruments, Trinity, Psalms, Body of Christ, music, place, and so on. All this is good. The problem happened when I opened up the issue.

There are 25 articles in the issue, not counting reviews or the advertising section. You would think that in an issue devoted to diversity that the articles would be written from a diverse group of authors, right? Wrong. All 24 articles are written by white authors. Thankfully, there are women authors also- but in an issue speaking to the issue of diversity, you’d think that there would be a diverse group of authors from different cultures talking about worship. Honestly, I was hard-pressed to find many pictures with non-whites in them(there are a few). The issue loses credibility in talking about diversity when there is a lack of diversity within the authors of the articles. (Let’s not get into the CD’s that are reviewed)

This isn’t new within the Church- especially when if you are someone who attends Christians Conferences. Jonathan Merritt from the Religion News Services (@RNS) wrote two post in 2013 about the lack of racial diversity and gender diversity at Christian Conferences. The point in this post and Merritt’s articles is that we have to continually seek to be sure the Church represents the diversity that is present in our communities. Hope Church, where I pastor, is situated between the affluent part of town and an impoverished. We are aware of the economic diversity and the racial diversity. We are committed to find ways to be a church where all tribes and tongues are present in order to be the Body of Christ. One of my proudest moments as a pastor at Hope Church was the Sunday I counted seven or eight families of different nationalities or ethnicities in worship in a congregation of 90-100 people. It was an encouraging moment- but we have a lot of work to continue.

Back to Worship Leader magazine- I’m not writing to start a boycott or raise the ire of the Twitterverse. I know that most of the authors in the magazine are there regular authors- but maybe that is the problem. If we want diversity, we have to go and seek it out rather than waiting for it to come to us. I hope that in the future, Worship Leader magazine will feature African-America, Hispanic, or Asian worship leaders. I know that would help me (and probably others) in getting a grasp of diversity in worship and in the Church.

(Edited to correct Religious News Network to Religion News Services (@RNS) on 5/6/14)

About Steve LaMotte

Husband and father of three amazing children. Campus Minister of Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. Pastor at Hope United Methodist Church in Dover, Delaware. Elder in the Pen-Del Conference. Fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers. Lover of music that makes hipsters cringe.
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