Diverse Worship: African-American, Caribbean & Hispanic Perspectives
Pedrito U. Maynard-Reid;
IVP, 259 pages, $15.99

You know a conflict has dragged on too long when it generates inside jokes: "What's the difference between a liturgiologist and a terrorist? Answer: You can negotiate with a terrorist." For those of us who haven't heard of "liturgiologists"—and even for those who have—Pedrito Maynard-Reid's Diverse Worship is a handy introduction to the field, and a friendly plea for American evangelicals to broaden their liturgical practices.

Congregations already feud about using hymns or praise choruses, or organs or guitars. But with census figures showing an explosion in the Latino and immigrant populations, evangelistically minded churches need to become even more open to new worship styles. Maynard-Reid's book may be a helpful tool for developing such openness as it examines worship not only as church tradition but as "holistic ministry."

Maynard-Reid was born in Jamaica, taught for years in Puerto Rico, and is professor of biblical studies and missiology at Walla Walla College in Washington. Drawing on his diverse background, he offers fascinating historical details on worship and its theological underpinnings in black, Latino, and Caribbean Christian cultures.

The tension felt by the various cultures between their native music and the pervasive influence of European styles is a recurring theme: "Many Caribbean worshipers struggle with the use of reggae and calypso in the liturgy because of their strong associations with what is termed 'the world.'. … Yet it is the African-based musical idioms that express the daily social and deep spiritual concerns and feelings of the people." A balanced approach that honors both indigenous expression and Christianity's European heritage is an ideal goal, the author suggests.

In this occasionally pedantic but informative survey, Maynard-Reid stresses that he did not set out to write another "implement in the liturgical wars." He has, however, given us an olive branch for understanding and a wake-up call to prepare for an increasingly multiethnic American church.

Related Elsewhere

Diverse Worship can be ordered at ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.

Intervarsity Press offers a bit more information about the book.

Pedrito U. Maynard-Reid's site at Walla Walla College has more information about the author, including his curriculum vitae.

Past Christianity Today articles about "worship wars" include:

Whatever Happened to God? | One of evangelicalism's most respected theologians says most worship is clubby and convivial rather than adoring and expectant. (Feb. 1, 2001)

Cease-Fire in the Worship Wars | A dispatch from the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts. (Feb. 8, 2000)

Yancey: Would Jesus Worship Here? | Across the world, God moves in mysterious ways. (Feb. 7, 2000)

The Profits of Praise | The praise and worship music industry has changed the way the church sings. (July 12, 1999)

The Triumph of the Praise Songs | How guitars beat out the organ in the worship wars. (July 12, 1999)

We Are What We Sing | Our classic hymns reveal evangelicalism at its best.

Native Christians Reclaim Worship (Oct. 26, 1998)

Are Evangelicals Missing God at Church? | Why so many are rediscovering worship in other traditions. (Oct. 6,1997)

The Changing Sound of Music | In worship, choruses are beating-out traditional hymns; but the organ plays on. (Oct. 6, 1997)

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