21 April, 2008

Missionaries Help New Churches "Worship Properly" with Projectors

Since the beginning of modern missions Western missionaries have been helping newly converted indigenous peoples learn how to "worship properly." In the late 1800's through the early part of the 20th-century, missionaries took Western instruments and worship materials with them to the four corners of the earth. Since all of the primitive instruments of the pagans were base and vulgar, and too deeply tied to idolatry to be used in a godly way, missionaries often took pump-organs since they had never been used for any sinful purposes.

As time passed, missionaries learned to help the poor pagans "sing properly" teaching them that four-part hymns are the only proper mode of musical worship. Soon the evil practices of singing with drums, singing in odd meters, or using indigenous tonality were done away with as newly converted tribes-people were taught the finest translated works of Ira Sanky.

Eventually, some missionaries began to take pianos, the "holiest" of all instruments, because it had essentially no "evil baggage" at all, having never been used by ungodly people in ungodly ways to play ungodly music. Once on the field, they set about to teach the pagans that their flutes and drums and stringed instruments could not be used because of their "wicked connotations." But now, in this age of modern technology and travel, a new "essential instrument" has emerged on the scene helping converted pagans now "worship properly." That "instrument" is the projector.

Called by some simply as a "Power Point Projector" after Microsoft's popular Power Point presentation software, a projector can be hooked up to a computer, DVD player or even a television and then projected on a screen or wall to allow a large number of people to view something. The projector has become very popular over the last 15 years in many churches in America and the West for use during worship. The words to praise songs are projected up on the screen where everyone in a congregation can see them and sing.

"Ever time we come back to the States for a visit we buy more projectors" said Brent Howell, a missionary to rural parts of South America. "Many of these people we are trying to reach come from oral traditions, where they learn their songs by rote. Many who become believers keep on trying to do that, memorizing songs and teaching them to others. But it's important that these people really know how to worship properly, and that is done by having a projector hooked up to a computer so that everyone can see the words."

Others like Howell are taking the same position. Peter Leiken of New Awareness Missions spoke to TBNN about their latest efforts to raise money for projection screens in Asia.

"When we send out our missionaries now we always send them out with a new projector to take to the field," said Leiken. "Projectors have become so much smaller and more compact over the years that it's very easy to take even two or three. But what's most important here is helping these new church planting movements so that people can worship in right ways."

Also along with every projector NAM also supplies a solar cell so that the projector can be used in areas where electricity is not available.

"We are focusing over a million dollars on our projector ministry for 2008," said Leiken. "Our next focus is the projection screen itself. We're able to take it to some places already, but it's very difficult. That's our next most urgent need. Until then some our people will just have to keep projecting things onto walls, which isn't best, but it will have to do for now."


Anonymous said...

Way to go, O forward thinking missionaries!

I think the third wave in this grand venture should be be to raise another million dollars for replacement bulbs, then another wave of giving for fan replacements, then another million for software upgrades, and a final million for newer laptops.

Oh, one more million for training the natives how to use the equipment themselves (assuming they've become sufficiently civilized by then that the missionary feels no longer constrained of the Lord to be the only one authorized to trigger the PowerPoint).

Of course, flying key natives to the states for that training will be spendy, but well worth it given the value of this incomparable worship aide.

Drop whatever else you've been supporting in missions overseas and let these blessings rain!

Richard said...

This is a great idea!

However, the hymn in the picture looks to theologically deep. Remember, it's not about doctrine. We want to sing TO God...not proclaim anything about who He is or what He has done.

I was thinking, maybe something like this:

Yes, yes, yes, yes
Yes, yes, yes
Yes, yes, yes, yes
yes, yes, yes.

Sung to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me", it properly heralds the worthiness of God. Plus, it's not as theologically challenging as the other song.

Oh, make sure you put some drums and guitar into it. We don't really care for the lack of feeling that comes with acapella music.

Andrew Jones said...

related: if anyone has a old magic lantern used by missionaries last century, i would be happy to buy it.

Brian said...

"Since all of the primitive instruments of the pagans were base and vulgar, and too deeply tied to idolatry to be used in a godly way, missionaries often took pump-organs since they had never been used for any sinful purposes."

Ha,ha,ha, ha! That was worth the price of the post.

Jim Pemberton said...

The Western CCM movement meets the sore lack of good Christian ethnomusicology. Bittersweet.

Athelas said...

GReat stuff. They'll only get my projector when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers....