Worship Worker in East China: Southeast Asian Worship Style Greatly Impacts Church in China

A picture shows a person worshipping God.
A picture shows a person worshipping God. (photo: unsplash.com)
By Li ShiguangFebruary 27th, 2023

With the development of the church in China, what kind of music style should be used in worship and praise has become a hot topic for the Christian community in recent years.

The worship songs sung in some rural traditional churches can be basically divided into two types: one is the traditional hymn and the other is the Songs of Canaan which is created by a famous songwriter Xiaomin.

Recently, a brother called Zhao Wei, who has engaged in worship and praise for more than ten years talked about the worship ministry in China and shared the important influence of Southeast Asia worship style in China.

The style of worship and praise in Southeast Asia

The biggest style and feature of worship and praise in Southeast Asia is that it pays too much attention to techniques and pays more attention to the “heart”. When Brother Zhao was studying in the worship school before, every teacher was were actually very good. Some of them even accompanied popular stars without overemphasizing skills. They thought that in worship, skills could only account for 40% at most, while our relationship with God could account for the rest percentages because they felt that there was no need to show off their skills in worship.

Worship services in Southeast Asia often do not have too many outstanding styles and pay attention to how to sing with your heart. In Southeast Asian churches, almost all bands do not talk about gaudy cooperation, and what they have always emphasized is that “less is more." Never say that you are good at techniques, but do more. For example, the keyboard player and guitar player can do their own part well together. For example, until today, there are many worship songs in mainstream churches and they are used for a long time. In fact, these worship songs are very simple from the perspective of music, but some very profound worship songs can not be sung well. There was a time last year when Taiwan singer Will Liu danced that aerobics, which seemed to be called "Compendium of Materia Medica", which became a hit almost overnight in mainland China. One of the most important reasons was that it was simple and not complicated at all.

Worship in Southeast Asia has long been pragmatic. Brother Zhao said that when he was studying in a worship school, many teachers in Southeast Asia did not even use very professional terms when they told them music content such as harmony and modulation.

Brother Zhao said that he himself was deeply influenced by the worship style of Southeast Asia, which he had maintained for more than ten years. “Of course, we also hope that more skilled people can join in, but compared with techniques, we need to review them first, including myself. We have to measure, do we pay attention to flaunting our skills, or does he pay attention to teamwork? Therefore, for example, our team must focus on serving by the heart first, and then deal with techniques.“

Last year, Zhao and his fellows held a worship service, and almost all the musicians improvised. No one was in charge of bass, and finally, Zhao’s daughter was brought in to play bass. In fact, his daughter studied classical music, and bass became interesting to her later. Then the guitarist was also temporarily invited by a church. Technically, this person was not very good, but his serving attitude was really good. The singing team was also patchwork. They were from different churches and had different ages. According to the skills, many people were not enough, but concerning the attitude of service, it was quite good. So in the end, this worship service was well appreciated by all the participants.

Brother Zhao said, “In fact, this is the worship style of Southeast Asia, and it is also the worship style that we have been continuing and upholding over the years.”

Brother Zhao also mentioned that during his more than ten years of worship and service, he often heard some people criticizing Xiaomin’s worship songs, the Stream Of Praise, Music Ministries (the first overseas Chinese Christian music ministry) and other music ministries, and refuted that their worship songs could not be called “sacred music”. Then Brother Zhao asked them a question, “Have their worship songs been used by God?” They replied that it was music used by God.

On the one hand, he is conservative in music style, and they do not always use any style, such as heavy metal style, so they are determined not to use it. But on the other hand, they are very broad in many ways, and are willing to accept many different styles, even if those ministry workers are different in many ways, for example, the Charismatics.

Why does worship in Southeast Asia have such a great influence on the church in China?

Brother Zhao answers the reason is actually not too complicated. No matter whether China or Southeast Asia, we are all Asians, and there are similarities in skin color, language, and culture. Secondly, for many historical reasons, for a long time, compared with China, Malaysian, Singaporean and other Southeast Asian countries are more willing to open their doors, and they are not as closed as China before. Many people in Southeast Asian countries are actually not aborigines but immigrated from other places, which is very different from China.

There is another reason—Dr. Jung Song, a renowned evangelist known as the "Wesley of China." Nearly a hundred years ago, Dr. Song went to Southeast Asia from China to spread the gospel to them and established churches there, which brought great blessings to them and their countries. In this regard, they have always been very grateful, always thinking that one day they must give back.

- Translated by Charlie Li

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