Grazing and Growing: Developing Disciples through Contextualized Worship Arts in Mozambique by Megan Meyers
Even though the churches in Africa have been experiencing phenomenal growth in the past decades, scholars have paid little or no attention to the contribution of music to church growth. This book focuses on the worship culture among people of Beira, Mozambique. The author is an ethnomusicologist who has worked with WorldVenture Mozambique since 2009. This book explores how indigenous hymnology and culturally appropriate worship impact the life and ministry of local congregations. It also explores ways in which local congregations can "expand the songwriting workshop model for enhancing culturally appropriate worship" (3).
The author conducted qualitative research involving twelve evangelical churches in and around the city of Beira, Mozambique. Her work has three parts comprising seven chapters. In the first part the initial chapter gives background information on the twelve churches and identifies the research methods used in the study. The second chapter deals with the theoretical framework for analyzing the research questions, while the third chapter discusses the qualitative research design and method utilized, such as participant observations, interviews, and collection of frequently sung songs.
The second section presents findings and data analysis. The author notes that in current worship practice there is a "lack of teaching and practice of contextualized worship arts in Beira churches" (8). Thereafter, she analyses her findings on the impact of "noncontexualized" worship on churches in this region.
The third part describes the experimental method used for the study and includes an assessment of the results. An indigenous song-writing workshop was used to stimulate change in worship practice in Beira churches. Here the author detailed "the impact of applied contextual worship arts on the development of church ministry and mission" (103). [End Page 121]
This book gives a positive description without indicating some of the dangers that are behind the process of contextualization. Contextualization is important, as it is a way through which the gospel can infiltrate each society by taking on the language and forms that will enable local people to understand and embrace it without alienating themselves from their own culture. However, if not carefully utilized, this process also incurs the risk of distorting or compromising the gospel itself.
This book may prove a useful resource for musicians, songwriters, and theologians in Africa and beyond. It has an extensive and up-to-date bibliography that is cited throughout the book. It offers practical ways for some African churches, particularly those which are highly dependent on western hymns, to develop their own worship practices. It is also a valuable contribution to the growing field of ethnomusicology, particularly in the African context.
Saint Paul, Minnesota