Inspiring creativity and worship

20 Nov, 2017 | Central Asia
Nicole James
Workers in Central Asia built a recording studio to inspire creativity and worship collaboration amongst local churches. Photo by Jay Schipper.
Construction took four times as long as he had hoped and cost twice as much as he expected. Instead of mentoring someone through the building process, Jacob*, a worker in Central Asia, and an OM colleague in country completed the hands-on work alone.

Five months after he started building the basement recording studio, nestled on the outskirts of a bustling city, Jacob could finally see the finish line. Sitting in the studio, he looked through the glass windows at the still-in-process lounge. “The acoustics are finished in here, but it’s not pretty yet,” he said. “That room’s acoustics should be done in the next month, and it should be a lot prettier.”

Functionality and beauty were both important aspects of his design. After all, Jacob imagined the studio as “a place that…will inspire both creativity and worship. This is a place where you can meet God.”

Centring the experience around music was simply a reflection of Jacob’s own passion. “Music’s always been a big part of who [I am],” he stated. “It’s how I met my wife. I worked in live sound to go through college.”

Music is also “a growing felt need here in the church,” he added. “There’s no effective outlet for creative people of faith.”

The best scenario believing artists can hope for is secular spotlight, where they can’t mention Christ, he explained. “If you’re a creative [musician], and you’re a believer, you either have to never mention that you’re a believer or just sing at your church. But your church is 12 other people in someone’s living room.”

While there are talented individual musicians leading worship for home groups or small churches, “there’s no sense of collaboration, community or anyone to bring you along and help you grow. There’s no iron sharpening iron,” Jacob noted.

Indigenous churches struggle with unity and rarely share worship resources, he sad: “If you ask one church, ‘What about this song?’ they’ll say, ‘That’s not our song. That belongs to this other church…We don’t sing each other’s songs unless they’re both a translation of Hillsong.’”

Therefore, instead of widespread worship expressions that resonate with believers across Central Asian congregations, “translated western songs—badly played and badly recorded—have become the standard for worship in the church here,” Jacob stated.

Another worker once played him a song and asked whether it was translated or local. The song’s genre was rock, tinged with metal, but the quality was high, Jacob described. It turned out that a group of Central Asian believers had formed a band in the ’90s, played together for one year and then broke up.

“They haven’t spoken to each other in 20 years,” Jacob said. “I want to see the opposite of that. I want to see long-term collaboration and discipling each other.”

That’s where the new studio comes in. “The idea was if I made a place where these people could gather and do concerts, do recordings and do music together…a place where musicians could collaborate and see that they’re not alone,” Jacob said.

Anna*, a veteran worship leader at an indigenous church, shared Jacob’s dream. Before the studio was completed, she spent three days recording worship songs and strategised for hours in the under-construction space about ways to bring together a music ensemble from different churches.

“The thing that excites me the most is what I fear won’t happen. My fear is that they won’t collaborate, and it will just be a place we can go and record something on our own for selfish purposes,” Jacob admitted. “Conversely…the thing that will give me the greatest joy is to see people who won’t work together [naturally] create something together and see something that will last.”

There were probably 25 other musicians who would want to know about the studio, Jacob estimated. But when he finished construction, he wanted to walk them slowly through the recording process. “There’s a lack of understanding of what the recording process looks like regarding the instrumentation, the rehearsals that go into a song and then the recording,” he explained.

In the future, Jacob hoped to host music nights where different believing song writers could share their work and get input from other talented musicians.

“There’s a two-fold outlet [to the studio project]: Creative people can create art that’s long-lasting and influences the next generation of the church. And, secondly, if the musicians are working together, then I believe that will foster greater church unity—churches will start to work together as well and love one another.”

Pray that the studio would be used to foster unity and creativity among Central Asian believers. Pray for God-ordained musicians to use the space. Pray for talented, high level musicians outside the country to come alongside the studio and collaborate with Central Asian musicians for the glory of God.

*Name changed for security

Nicole James is a world traveller and writer for OM International. She’s passionate about partnering with fields to communicate the ways God is working across the globe.

Credit: Nicole James · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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