Third Culture Worship

Vaughn Thompson Jr. is a worship leader/singer/songwriter and the Worship Pastor of Cathedral of Faith, a multi-cultural, multi-site, 7,000 member church in San Jose, CA. Vaughn is a graduate of Lee University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry. He has also received his Masters’ in Theology with an emphasis in Worship and the Arts from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. With this educational background Vaughn has developed a passion to teach and train others in Worship. A vital part of his ministry and focus is not simply leading worship, but also teaching and equipping others to do the same. This year Vaughn has begun teaching and helped develop the School of Worship (SOW) at his home church, Cathedral of Faith. This School of Worship was created to help young leaders develop a sound Biblical Theology of worship and the musical skills to assist them in leading congregational worship. SOW was also developed as an effort to assist Cathedral of Faith in its vision of reaching the Bay area. Vaughn also travels with his wife Irene Marin Thompson, who is an accomplished worship leader in her own right, and together they have formed Third Culture Worship (TCW).

What is Third Culture Worship?

Third Culture Worship (TCW) is a worship ministry that aspires to be a camp of worship leaders, teachers, songwriters, and artists that finds their purpose to be not just “doing worship” for people, but also in teaching, training, and equipping others to grow in their own journey of leading worship in their own communities.
TCW is dedicated to creating resources; music, teachings, seminars and conferences that help people across the globe connect with God in worship. Just as Third Culture cannot be defined by any one culture, so it is with their music. TCW incorporates musical elements from other genres and cultures to create a worship experience that many can identify with. In doing so, TCW desires to create an awareness of Third Culture people in ministry who will inspire other Third Culture people to step up and contribute to the global picture of what God is doing in the earth, as we all follow the lead of the ultimate Third Culture Kid, Jesus!

My Third Culture Experience

Third Culture people are those who are raised in the midst of multiple cultures and often engage in a lifelong search for a sense of identity, belonging, and “home”. They cannot be defined by any one culture, therefore they naturally integrate elements of their surrounding culture(s) into their birth culture(s) thus creating a unique “Third Culture.” What begins, as a survival method actually becomes a way of life.

This has been true of my own journey, especially as someone born to a Korean mother and a Caucasian father and having lived in various ethnocentric neighborhoods as a Third culture kid. I never fully identified with any one culture and spent most of my youth feeling confused and at times resentful of my mixed heritage. It was a painful journey but one that has led me to find that my true identity is in God and not culture. What I once saw as destructive pain, I now see was divine purpose.

It is my belief that the Third Culture phenomenon can also depict the common struggle we all share in the pursuit of identity. We are not defined simply by our nationality, language or skin color but our ultimate identity is spiritual for we have all been created in God’s image. Everyone experiences “Third Culture” in the sense that we are in, but not of this world. And no one on earth navigated this tension better than Jesus. Jesus was born the Son of man, yet He was still the Son of God. He was a human, yet remained deity. He recognized and embraced His Jewish culture, yet He lived and loved in such a way that transcended every culture, every boundary, and every dividing line to bridge the gap between God and humanity. He engaged every culture in order to embrace every person. “He lived with the mindset and the will to love and serve every culture, even in the midst of pain and discomfort.” (Dave Gibbons Newsong pastor and author) Because of how He lived, “Now we are no longer foreigners but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household.” (Ephesians 2:11-22) Jesus IS the ultimate picture of Third Culture!

The Third Culture Worship Project

The Third Culture Worship Project is an eclectic mix of musical fusion that will lead the listener to heartfelt worship experience. While musically diverse and cross-cultural, the heart of this project is for congregational worship. “These songs were written for congregations and from congregational experiences. As a worship pastor, my heart is to see the song of the congregation come forth and the Glory of God appear…not my gifts and talents on display (2 Chron. 5). My desire is that these songs could maybe be a tool for some worship leaders out there; just like other worship leaders songs have been a tool and a blessing to me as a worship leader.”

The New Re-Mastered and extended Version of the Third Culture Worship project will be released on Itunes in June of 2011 with an extra track featuring the legendary Gospel voice of Keith Staten (formally of Commissioned) along with Gospel newcomer Claude Deuce. It will be available here and on Itunes.