Podcast Episode #162: Leading Multicultural Worship with Kristina Kislyanka

Kristina Kislyanka joins the podcast to discuss leading worship in her multilingual Slavic church community, leaving a legacy to younger musicians, and engaging the heart in our work.

Not only is Kristina a worship leader at her church, she also happens to be the Marketing Guru at Worship Artistry, which is definitely a win-win. Here are some notes from our conversation.

On separating our culture from a Biblical one

We have to ask ourselves if what we are doing is because it’s the right thing to do or just the thing we’ve always done. Can we change? Is our culture able to move forward while being respectful of what has brought us here

On how the multicultural congregation affects the music

All my setlists are in English and Russian. We’ll go back in forth in the same song. It can be confusing at first but once you get used to it, it works. I do have to think about the simplicity of a song when I’m leading it multilingually. The lyrics can’t be too complicated or I’ll lose people and they won’t know what’s going on. I don’t always go to the latest and greatest, I have to look at what my church responds to and work with that. We can sing songs that are 15 years old and that means the congregation knows it and can sing it wholeheartedly.

On the draw for non-Slavic members joining the church

I’m surprised that people who aren’t Russian stay but a response I get from newcomers is that they feel the Spirit of God despite the language barrier; the words are powerful. It’s like listening to a prayer you don’t understand but recognize. The Spirit of God transcends the language barrier.

On the size of the worship team in relation to the size of the church

Our team is large because we’ve got people who have grown up worshipping. It’s what they love and it's what drew them in in the first place. We care less about your musical ability and more about your passion. We know if you play with one of our teams and you’re passionate you’ll get better and if you’re not, you’ll eventually find another way to serve. It’s a natural way to find people that love to lead worship. When I was 13 I was encouraged by my worship pastor to join. Was I good? No! I was scared but he invited me and so I joined. Now I do the same thing.

On carrying the pressure of leading a congregation

I've stopped putting the pressure of a successful worship set on myself, it doesn't rely on me! Yes, I choose the setlist and lead the team, but everyone in the room is worshipping together. My responsibility is to worship.

On working at Worship Artistry

We have the same heart of worship. I get to invest my whole life into worship, not the industry, but into the training of people and bringing them back to the real reason we worship. I'd rather have musicians who love the Lord and are becoming better musicians than just great musicians, and Worship Artistry's mission is the same. 

 On choosing worship songs that engage the congregation

My go-to setlist-building technique is to follow a newer song with something that everyone knows. Everyone sings louder, the atmosphere changes! We don't need to feel the pressure to play songs from start to finish. It's okay to skip a verse or just sing the chorus and bridge. Repeating these parts of a song helps the congregation memorize them, even without lyrics on a screen. Don't be afraid to piece choruses and bridges of songs to make better songs. 

Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.

Podcast Episode #162: Leading Multicultural Worship with Kristina Kislyanka

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