While acknowledging that inclusive worship will look different in each congregational context, The Next Worship shows how we can move toward gathered worship that 'points to the future celebration of God's people from every tribe, tongue, people and language.' Besides being full of stories acknowledging the challenges of multiethnic worship, this immensely practical volume also provides hope and how-to advice for preparing (sometimes reluctant) congregations to worship in ways that connect them with the global church in their community and abroad. In a refreshingly broad approach, Sandra Van Opstal goes beyond discussions of music styles to explore what multiethnic worship might look like in Scripture reading, prayers, other arts, the Lord's Supper, the teaching of the Word and more. Furthermore, her own rich experience in mentoring worship leaders has given her keen insight regarding collaborative service planning and the development of diverse worship leadership. The summaries of key concepts at the end of each chapter along with probing questions for reflection and discussion make this a vital resource for pastors, worship leaders, worship planning committees and training programs.
-Robin P. Harris,
director, Center for Excellence in World Arts at GIAL, president, International Council of Ethnodoxologists
All Christians are on a journey toward God's multicultural kingdom. We live in a remarkable time of opportunity for growth in understanding and shared practices across cultures. Drawing on years of creative leadership in a variety of contexts, Sandra Van Opstal offers us testimonies, tools and insights to inform the next steps in our own journeys of growth and sanctification. May God use this book to break down barriers and strengthen intercultural bonds of many worshiping communities!
Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary
The Next Worship argues persuasively that achieving unity in worship requires taking diversity seriously. At once prophetic and pastoral, the book presents a set of principles for navigating the complexities of race, ethnicity and culture within congregational worship. Van Opstal calls worship leaders to be anthropologists as well as theologians: self-aware students of culture who engage in critical reflection about their contexts, who take responsibility for interpreting their actions and who summon the courage and humility to truly collaborate. Van Opstal's writing models her leadership strategy - accounts from her own experience through the years are enriched by perspectives from a number of key leaders and scholars. Though its account is ultimately hopeful, the book does not downplay the difficulties inherent in building worshiping congregations across lines of cultural difference. Rather, it shows that coming together across these differences will frequently lead to tension, discomfort and sometimes pain. A commitment to working together through these issues is key to developing the kinds of relationships that characterize the coming kingdom. The Next Worship makes a compelling argument that building worshipping communities across lines of division cannot be a niche interest. Rather, engaging diverse perspectives and learning to share authority must become priorities for all Christ-followers interested in the continued life and health of the church.
professor of church music, Baylor University
We have lost the language of love in our worship - love for God and love for our neighbor. This is a book for those who want to recover these loves by practicing reconciliation in worship. The Next Worship shows us how to love God and love our neighbor practically in worship, specifically by sharing leadership and guiding others in change. Through her personal relationships and experience in community Sandra teaches us to create spaces of hospitality, solidarity and mutuality through worship. I highly recommend this book, having experienced Sandra's leadership and knowing the wealth she has crossing cultures domestically and globally.
cofounder, CCDA, founder, John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation
For those of us who are committed to the work of Christian community development in vulnerable neighborhoods, being rooted in a faith community with an expression of worship that is rooted in our struggle for justice and reconciliation is essential. Sandra's new book, The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, provides a much needed resource for leaders who are committed to crafting worship experiences rooted in diversity.
CEO and president, CCDA
One of most significant challenges for the next era of evangelicalism is developing unity in the worship life of a multicultural Christian community. Sandra Van Opstal recognizes that multicultural worship is a long journey with many bumps along the way - there are no simple and easy answers. In The Next Worship, Sandra puts forth key principles and helpful models that should inspire us to pursue this noble goal. This book may well become the essential text that helps multiethnic churches turn the corner in their worship life.
Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary
If we worship leaders are taking our pastoral roles seriously, one of our jobs is to prepare our churches for heaven's worship where all nations are gathered. This book inspires, encourages and teaches how to do just that!
recording artist, pastor of worship at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, FL