Josh Klinkenberg on Kiwi worship
How important do you think it is for churches in New Zealand to be singing some kiwi songs and why?
I think it is extremely important that we as a church in NZ begin to sing our own songs. It's not because they are better than any other nations songs or anything like that. It's simply because the arts not only reflect culture, but also define it. There is a huge part of singing our own songs that actually calls us up to be who our Father destined us to be.
What is the significance of churches embracing the indigenous sound of their country?
The heritage and inheritance that we have in our indigenous people is amazing. They have so much kingdom understanding that is hidden in their culture that we in the church need. This transaction of receiving what our indigenous people have to offer is made possible through valuing and honouring them.
A very practical way that we can begin to do this is by embracing the beauty of their sound, dance, painting and other art forms. Seeing sounds and songs from indigenous cultures redeemed and valued in the Kingdom is the way we begin to see that entire culture and people group redeemed. When indigenous people hear their sounds they feel welcome.
The international disconnect that we see between the church and indigenous culture is this - not many indigenous people feel at home in a church service because the way we often run our church services is so opposite to indigenous culture. We have been expecting indigenous people to change their natural way of doing things and to just fit into our way of doing things. I think it's time we the church started to learn what it is like to get involved in their culture.
What does that look like for New Zealand?
It's amazing to see the ground NZ has made in this area over the last 5 to 10 years. We are light-years ahead of pretty much anywhere else in the world. It's important that we can see this while at the same time recognising that work still needs to be done. For us in NZ, I think this looks like the church getting out of herself even more. Reversing this mindset that our goal is to invite everyone to church, and beginning to live in a way where our goal is to get the love we carry out to every person in our community regardless of whether they want to come to our services or not. I believe that looks like us getting involved with our local marae. Being willing to sit at the feet of the Maori elders and learn of our history, discovering our turangawaewae.
Do you have any cool testimonies / encounters related to NZ churches and indigenous sounds / songs?
Yea we get to see people blown away by the power of indigenous sounds whenever I pull out my little Koauau or Putangitangi. I recently played at an event where we as a band went off into a spontaneous musical part in the song. I began to play my Putangitangi. Later after we had finished I had several Maori people come up to me and said that as soon as I started playing that sound they were taken into encounters with the Lord. So awesome!
Another cool time was a couple of years ago at our worship school. During one of the morning sessions the room erupted into a spontaneous time of worship that was carried mainly by indigenous songs and haka. Later in the school we found out that a number of people were healed as a haka was being released in the worship time.
My favourite thing to see when we release indigenous sounds in our worship is Maori people feeling a sense of value. I love seeing Maori people who have felt completely devalued by the church for so long, feel a sense of value and permission. Permission to be who they are without having to fit some other cultural mould.
For a small country, New Zealand has been quite influential in the international worship scene. Any thoughts on why that is?
Yes that's true. If the music industry has proven anything it's that people relate to simple, easy to remember songs. Kiwis seem to have a very natural gift at keeping things simple. We don’t like to overcomplicate things, and this shows in our songs. Unfortunately it's this same simplicity that we at times dislike or are ashamed of because we don’t think our songs sound like anyone else’s. My encouragement to Kiwi’s is, the world needs your songs and you were born to give the world a simple song to sing!
What advice would you give someone who is wanting to explore an indigenous sound further?
Jump in and do it. If there is one thing I have learnt its that indigenous people are waiting for those who will come and ask to learn from them. They are waiting for an invitation to share who they are and what they carry. Our Maori brothers and sisters are the most generous, loving, kind, funny, smart, and talented people. They love to share their life with those who they trust. So my advice is, connect with local Kaumatua and learn your local story. Build trust.
Releasing a sound is more than just the noise you can make, it is releasing a story. Your sound is your story. Get involved in the indigenous story in your community. Connect, value, and honour the Maori around you. Don’t try to change them, but instead let them change you. Pray in and buy instruments. Practice and use them in your worship times.
About Josh Klinkenberg
Josh lives in Tauranga with his wife Amberley and their four children. They have a heart to see people set free and living in the fullness of the relationship bought for us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Josh and Amberley love to lead worship, speak and teach. Training people in hearing Gods voice and the supernatural.