I recently spent time with Hank, a returned tentmaker from North Africa. During his time there he realized that new believers did not have home grown worship music, but were importing modern western songs with a very different style and beat compared to local music.
He shared a story of another tentmaker who had been asked to teach his new underground church worship songs from the west. The tentmaker was horrified at this idea, since his vision was to plant a church of the culture, not a western import.
He had suggested to the musicians of his house church to set their favorite psalms to music. Thus a series of scripture centered songs, with a culturally relatable music style, was born. The new believers “owned” their songs which reinforced to them that the music of their culture is approved by God.
Hank is now researching ethnomusicology with the intent of teaching the new church of North Africa how to develop and compose music that is culturally acceptable.
He also impressed on me that bringing our songs from the west is a form of imperialistic arrogance that makes the host nation believers think that their music is second class and not worthy.
His suggestion to new tentmakers going to unreached areas was simply to learn the host culture music style first and then adapt scripture to this music and enjoy making beautiful God honoring songs together.