Chapter 5 – How Worship Builds Bridges


In this chapter, the authors share a story about a “concert of prayer” event in downtown Chicago. More than 1,200 people gathered. Eleven different denominations were represented as well as various races, including African American, Caucasian, Latino, Native American, Asian, and many others. This group held two things in common: “a commitment to the lordship of Christ and a dedication to reach the city with the gospel.” (59)

In order to prevent divisions and misunderstandings from occurring, it was made perfectly clear that worshipers would focus on the things they held in common and not on controversial doctrinal issues.” (60) The prayer service moved many!

When we focus our attention and affection on the God of all creation—the One who made all ethnic groups, tribes and nations and who pours out His presence wherever people are gathered together in His name—all boundaries and distinctions that keep us separated from each other are worn down, and authentic community and reconciliation result . . . worship is the power that opens us up to the possibility of reconciliation. It fosters an atmosphere of openness, vulnerability, and humility . . .” (62)

By dying and rising, the incarnate Son of God put to death all ethnic, racial, religious and national self-worship. No race or ethnicity, nation or religious group can claim any special status. At the cross, the basis of all self-worship and pride was destroyed.” (64)

Ethnocentrism and racism are forms of idolatry in which we make ourselves the center of our affection and admiration. But when we worship, our focus, attention and affection are redirected to God, away from ourselves. In worship no person or group can boast; instead we recognize that we are all the same, and we are humbled.” (65)


Once again, I am reminded that if I choose to get my heart in the “right” place and truly worship my Lord and Savior, His Spirit will take care of the rest.

While I haven’t had many opportunities to worship in a multi-ethnic setting, I have experienced an “atmosphere of openness, vulnerability, and humility” during a worship service. We all have people and situations that frustrate and anger us in life. In fact, I find that sometimes I “vilify” someone who has angered me. Satan tempts me to assume that the person is an all-around bad person. Instead of recognizing and accepting that no one is perfect, including me, I choose to see only the negative in that person. But, when I truly worship alongside that person, I begin to once again see them as a child of God, not a villain. My shortcomings also become clearer to me and my judgmental attitude fades away.

What a blessing that God provides us daily with opportunities to worship him! What a blessing that He sends His Spirit to soften our hearts! What a blessing that He has made each of us uniquely! What a blessing that our differences provide a more complete picture of our Lord!

McNeil, Brenda Salter, and Rick Richardson. The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009.