Posted by Craig Borlase on 17 November 2014

Depending on who you ask, there are anything from 24 million to 70 million Christians in India. Whatever the real number, one thing is perfectly clear: the sound of Christian worship in India is getting ever louder. In this feature we speak to songwriter, worship leader and Mumbai resident Sheldon Bangera.

WeAreWorship: Most people in the west would be surprised to know that there are so many Christians where you live. What can you tell us about the worship life of the Indian church?

Sheldon Bangera: The church in India is so varied: there are people who gather in shacks to worship and others in cities who have great equipment and facilities. But as a nation - a pagan nation - all people have a genuine hunger to worship, and so our challenge is to show God as the true, living god, the one who died for them.

WAW: What aspects of western worship has the church in India absorbed?
SB: Just as Hollywood has impacted Bollywood, likewise, the western Church has impacted the Indian church. You will find a lot of western influence in Indian church music. So in the cities we sing Hillsong, Matt Redman and Graham Kendrick songs and we have lots of bands leading worship together. But in the villages things might be different - they’re pretty much unexposed to the west and have their own songwriters inspired by God.

WAW: I know it’s a massive question, but what do you think the west can learn about worship from the Indian church?
SB: The west has a lot to take from India, in the sense that Indian people are very simple. If you visit the villages you’ll find people that are honest and simple in their worship with a pure heart. If you’re leading worship then all hands will be in the air: they’re so hungry for God. The west would do well to restore some of this attitude.

WAW: What about being a minority in a Hindu country - as well as the poverty: do those factors make a big influence on the way you worship?
SB: There’s a challenge for us to bring a message that will help people - to know that Jesus can deliver them from these things. But the real personal challenge for me is to be true to the gospel - to not miss the fact that Jesus is enough, that we are to worship him for who he is, not for what he can give us.

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