February 8, 2017
Songwriting & Creativity

A Three-Part Blog Series on Decolonizing the Worship Movement


By Malcolm Du Plessis



We have arrived to the last section of our “The Next Worship Movement” blog series. In this series, we began with a look at the current state of contemporary worship music. To read Part 1 of this blog series, click (here). In Part 2: “The Medium is the Message,” we explored the difference between colonization and discipleship and the effects of both on the contemporary worship movement. To read Part 2, click (here).

This final blog is a continuation of the discussion begun in Part 2. Malcolm Du Plessis (author) expounds on the topics of celebrity and production in our worship movement, concluding his discussion with one final appeal towards a more multicultural and participatory expression of worship.




. . . (2) Secondly, celebrity and brand leveraging are vogue and have taken us off course. The sadness is not that we have veered from the plot. The sadness is that we do not even know that this has happened. We are becoming a culture where leveraging opportunity is becoming the norm, including in the worship music arena.  

The kingdom is not about leveraging. It is the polar opposite. It’s about laying down our rights and our privileges. Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be leveraged, but he laid it all down — and that is what made him so attractive to us. It was not his power that made him so compelling. It was his humility.

Philippians 2:3-11. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Unfortunately, we live in a world where leveraging has become the norm, including in the church. May God be gracious to us!



(3) Thirdly, high-tech production and fashion are redefining discipleship. How you are “attained,” in the Christian life, determines the ingredients necessary for you to be “maintained.”

Statistics are not on our side at this point in history. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that a Christ follower, who came to faith in a production culture, will be able to endure the difficult seasons in his or her Christian walk without continued sensational presentations to keep them going. For the most part, the rules of production and discipleship are incompatible. The one requires that you die daily and that you live vulnerably. The other insists on 24/7 positivity and the appearance of success. Just like with show business, the ministry business can be driven by outward displays that are not necessarily accurate nor believable.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11. “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at (Fashion). We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us.”



Once again, imagining worship music through the lens of the cultures of the world has the potential to give us a huge, big, and helpful chiropractic adjustment.

I am hoping that these thoughts help give birth to a new vision for the decolonization of our contemporary worship movement.

As we near the end of this age, we are experiencing an increased hostility and mistrust between the cultures of this world. How amazing it would be if we were able to develop a prophetic worship culture in the church that included multitudinous cultures and languages. I saw how this fostered healing in my native South Africa. I am convinced it could make a huge impact globally.

Discussion Question:
Malcolm Du Plessis

Malcolm has straddled the worlds of prophetic Christianity and showbiz for over thirty years – ranging from church planter to record company exec; from songwriter to song publisher; from pioneer of multicultural, multilingual worship music that fused praise and protest in the apartheid era of his native South Africa to artist manager in that same context; from consulting ministries, movements, artists, songwriters, record labels and publishing companies in the Christian arena to helping develop top 40 songwriters in the mainstream. He continues to consult for a range of organizations, yet identifies primarily as an underground activist and as a father figure to a growing number of young leaders. One of his priorities is his relentless call for the decolonization of the worship movement and for doors of dignity to be unlocked for more communities and ethnicities to contribute toward the “common” hymnal." (Source:

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