Thoughts On Vietnamese Worship

What did I think of the Vietnamese Church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For my missions class, I am allowed to do the class with a mentor and my pastor has agreed to be my mentor seeing as he has a PhD in Missiology. One assignment he has given me is to visit different churches and see how they do worship services. Fortunately, New Orleans is a city that is highly diverse so that makes this simple. Yesterday, I decided to go to a Vietnamese Church.

Keep in mind with each of these when I write about them that I am only talking about one church, but I am talking about how I experienced that. I am not saying that all the churches are like this. Unfortunately, needing to visit several different churches, some hasty generalization is likely to be inevitable.

I pulled into the parking lot surprised in some ways to see so many cars there. It’s interesting knowing that there are enough Vietnamese people that are Southern Baptist in the area. (That is the denomination of the church I visited) Though the service had started, I was greeted at the door by someone who spoke English. I do not know if this is how everyone is greeted or if I was spoken to in English because I am clearly white.

The layout of the church was traditional and I was indicated a spot on the pew where I could sit and given a bulletin with a little explanation of where we were in the service. I found some of it was in English and some of it was in Vietnamese. English parts of the bulletin included the pastors name and the names of the hymns that were sung, even though those hymns were sung in Vietnamese.

The Scripture verses were also put up in Vietnamese on a screen above the pastor. I could not tell what the verses were just by looking, but I did gather an idea of what the verses were since the references were pretty easy to make out. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the sermon which I could not understand a word of.

The pastor I gathered was a humorous fellow as several times in the sermon, he would say something and the audience would laugh. At some points, I noticed some people would turn to each other and say something about what was said. I wondered if this might be something that happens more in these services than in your typical Western American services.

I noticed most people seemed to dress nicely for the event, though there was one girl I saw wearing a T-shirt. I don’t remember any children making any noise during the service. Some people wanted to speak to me after the service. Some didn’t.

It’s definitely unique to be the minority ethnically in a location. I definitely was different from everyone else, but that’s okay. What’s really important is that these are still my brothers and sisters in Christ. I suspect one day Babel will be undone entirely and we will all speak one language together before the throne of God. I have no speculation on how or what that might be just in case you’re wondering.

Next Monday, I plan to report on a different church that I visit.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


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