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great post, jonny (and sunil).
fascinating stuff and it's amazing to me as a foereign missionary (aussie in the usa) in an urban western context that the fundamental questions about ecclesiology and mission are baically the same in india as they are here.

as i read this post i was reminded again about my hero E. Stanley Jones. he wrote a classic book early last century called "Christ of the Indian Road" where he posed very similiar questions about how christianity might be expressed in India. it's worth chasing down.

thanks again, jonny. see you at GB.


this wouldn't be Sunil Chandy would it?


Great to read Sunil’s comments and the discussion on contextualisation of worship – thanks Jonny and Sunil for publishing them.

On reading Jonny’s India Talkie posts in June it reminded me how raw it felt when I first encountered traditional English liturgy in remote rural parts of Uganda and DR Congo. We would gather for worship in a humble but proudly constructed timber and mud church, often with mud floor – possibly tree trunks for pews – a tin roof if they were lucky, and all decked out with small coloured cloths hanging like flags from the rafters. When the youth choir / MU choir / whatever choir (there seemed to be many!) sang their own worship songs, life and colour radiated for a few minutes. But then it would be back to 1662 (in a local language), which felt like a dirge, like a “power-off” switch … and it felt uncomfortable to me.
But when I talked to local leaders they said that this is the way the older Christians prefer their worship. So it seems the tradition/relevance dichotomy is universal.

I then had opportunities to work with young adult Christians from DR Congo and later from Uganda. The goal they had in common was to get electric instruments and the necessary generator to power them.
“But why? Your local instruments sound so rich and melodic!”
“Because young people here listen to American pop music and they need to know the Gospel is relevant to them too through the music they enjoy.”

We had a running debate throughout the first UK visit of AYF from Uganda in the early 90s. AYF are always creating a wide repertoire of compositions for their ministry, and I advised them that their American style Gospel music wouldn't get such a positive response here as their local melodies and languages.
“But this is who we are. You invited us to share our ministry here, and some of our best ministry in Uganda is with American Gospel style. It reaches the young people because it’s modern. And anyway, how would people here understand the message we want to share if it’s not in English?”

Over time we saw clearly that worship is more than an intellectual process through words, as AYF found British people responding rather mildly to their English language Gospel music, but deeply moved by songs in Japadhola, Alur, Luganda or Chiga. Whatever the language or age, certain melody and rhythm elicit soul-level response - plus, I would say, the realism and authenticity of the worship leader/s.


Hi si,
it's the very same Sunil Chandy you knew and loved ;)

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