As a tentmaker among the hard-to-reach nations, do not teach local people your favorite songs and worship style. Use songs that are mostly from Scripture and have easy-to-learn melodies for the local culture. Consider using children’s Sunday school songs which are Scripture based. Remember, most of your friends will be struggling with English, so using simple lyrics and melodies is recommended.
The Gregorian chant style of worship has served these ancient cultures well for hundreds of years. Now is not the time to introduce the latest “hipsong” worship.
You need to remind yourself that most of the new believers will be persecuted for their faith and will face suffering that is hard to imagine. See below for a link to the type of song that has been sung for centuries by the suffering church.
There may very well come a time to share your favorite music later as people become curious about what you like back home, but initially it is important to get the Word of God into people’s minds and hearts so that they can learn and repeat them quickly and accurately. The a capella style is ideal, as the main focus is on the words.
When we were tentmakers, we accidentally used Bible verses set to simple music since we did not know any other kind. Years later, members of the church which grew out of the group meeting in our home told us that one of the most effective things we did was to share these simple songs with them. They would sing these songs over and over in their daily life, thus feeding their souls with Biblical truths.
I remember visiting an underground church in North Africa and wondering why they were singing translated “Hipsong” songs. The new believers told me they don’t have a Christian heritage of songs and thus used what was passed on to them by the tentmakers.
Some years later, the church of North Africa was blessed by music that fit their culture and heritage, born and created among these new believers. It is beautiful worship.
Have you heard of Ethnomusicology? It is the study of music in it’s cultural context.
We are excited to report that a long time tentmaker musician, has returned home to get his masters in ethnomusicology so he can help the new believers develop culturally appropriate worship music.
Lastly, your musical tastes and preferences have been developing for years, maybe even decades; those hearing about Jesus for the first time through song have just started their journey.
If you feel strongly that these suggestions are wrong, think again. It is not about you, it is about getting the Word of God into the hearts of people in the simplest manner possible so they can begin their journey to Jesus. Sing songs that will touch eternity.
Listen to this simple song that you can learn and remember immediately
“Jesus remember me
when You come into Your Kingdom”