God is beautiful and He blessed us with creativity and a sense of beauty. Art is the full expression of beauty through creativity, enabling the artist to speak to the human heart in a unique and effective way. God has gifted us with 5 senses and He gave us the ability to experience Him and His Kingdom through them.
Unfortunately, the body of Christ hasn’t always understood this tool. Artistic believers also need to understand that if they want their art to be incorporated and accepted in the church, their art needs to fit in and meet the needs of that specific church context.
I’m a big promoter of using art in our services since I believe in the potential and power that this tool can have.
Here are 10 tips for how to promote the use of art in worship times so it can be a tool in our services.
#1 Communicate a message
It often happens that as artists we tend to focus a lot on ourselves and on our feelings, forgetting that if we want to use art in worship we need to serve others. We can’t pretend that leaders will embrace our art if it does not bless others in a way that is relevant to the service.
Art is a powerful communicating tool, and we need to understand that church leaders are guiding a community. We can use any kind of artistic form in church, but we should fit it into a liturgy, or have a focus that is toward blessing others.
As artists, we all know that one of the beauties of art is that our message can leave space for interpretation without needing to “say/explain everything.” However, we need to be careful that there actually is a message and we don’t fall into the trap of being meaningless because we didn’t follow any kind of structure. Using art during a worship service has to communicate since we are aiming to bless others. People need to receive a message that is understandable.
#2 Create a liturgy
By liturgy, I don’t just mean a selection of songs, but the act of taking the audience on a journey. This could be done in one service, or in a series. It could be a great idea to talk with the pastor or the leaders to create a journey together. Many times pastors do a series of messages that spread out over a number of Sundays, not just a single service. Why not work side by side with them, reproducing their message in an artistic way? I have seen ballets in churches, and I really appreciated the power of it. I also love when a story is being told, like in a drama or a skit for example.
Another option is to combine different artistic expressions together in order to create a liturgy. The art during worship can be performed in a spontaneous and improvised way, but we must be careful to give a message that is in line with what God wants to communicate.
#3 Consider the audience
If there is one thing I have learned since I became a believer it is understanding context. Context is important for everything. We need to be aware of the people we are ministering to especially when using art in worship. We can’t pretend that people will receive our message if it is shared in a way that is incomprehensible for them.
#4 Move in submission
Just because we are on a stage performing doesn’t mean we are free from submitting to our leaders. Submission is an important part of leading worship, including the use of art in worship. We need to be sure that we are walking side by side with the leadership of our congregation.
Sometimes as artists we live in our artistic bubble. Then, when we are not immediately understood, we get offended since we are sensitive people. Instead, if we make sure that we are walking with our leaders, they will trust us and the communication will be much easier.
If by chance we aren’t understood and somehow our artistic expression gets restrained, we still need to follow and show respect. In the long term, if our leader sees that our heart is to serve, usually they will trust us and give us space. If this does not happen, I’m sure God will give us wisdom in the decision to make.
#5 Share a vision
Sharing a vision not only helps us to determine where we are going and why we are doing something, but also helps others to receive it and engage with what we are doing, especially when it comes to our leaders. The vision could be as simple as using art in worship with the desire to bless others.
Having a direction and a vision will help us answer questions like:
- Why do we have the desire for what we want to do?
- How do we want to put it into practice?
- Who is willing to follow us?
Having a plan is useful to understand what the obstacles will be and to create a strategy to reach our goals.
#6 Work as a team
If we are part of a body, we need to understand that we cannot be running this race on our own. I believe it’s important to find people who are willing to walk with us, even if they are not artists. The worship ministry is more than just the worship team — all artists, technicians, and people who support the vision are welcome.
This allows us to not only be more effective but also to move with much more power and authority. Psalm 133 says that where the brothers dwell together there is anointing.
#7 Be open to criticism
As artists, we tend to be very sensitive toward criticism, especially when it’s directed at our art. When using art in worship, we must not allow criticism to poison our ministry. This doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings, but at the same time, we need to be sure that we put our hearts on the cross and leave them there.
Being open to criticism allows us to grow and also to see things from a different perspective.
#8 Don’t be a protagonist
When using art in worship, we need to put aside our ego and know that Jesus has to be at the center. Trying to be the center of attention hinders the work of the Holy Spirit and can even lead to conflict in the worship team. Protagonism is a sign of spiritual immaturity and does not produce anything good.
Instead, being humble will allow God to move freely and will bring unity in the group.
#9 Serve others
As disciples of Jesus, whatever we do should be done with love to bless others. When we are talking about the use of art in worship, we need to remember what characteristics a worship leader should have. Keeping in mind that our purpose is to lead others into the presence of God,
- we need to move with a serving attitude
- we need to be transparent and show our vulnerability
- desire the best for the others
- we need to understand where we want to lead people
- we need to understand when it’s time to get out of the way so God can minister
- and so on…
#10 It’s not about me
I left this one for last to relieve some of the pressure that we often feel when we lead something. I’m happy to say that the result of our work doesn’t depend entirely on us.
We do our best, and God does the rest. It is God’s job, not ours, to touch people’s hearts.
The role of a worship leader is never to manipulate people’s emotions. We are ambassadors who invite people to a party with God. We are not the main guest. We are simply creating a place for the party to happen. Once the party starts we are also welcome to join in.
This is a big relief from the pressure we might feel.
Art in worship – Final thoughts
I’m a big supporter of the use of art in worship, as you probably have noticed from reading my articles, but I can’t stress enough the fact that we are serving people, whether we are painting, doing a ballet, or playing music. Whatever is done on a stage during a service has to serve others. I believe bringing beauty to a place is already a service in itself, especially if done with a servant’s heart.
I believe that it all goes back to the motivation of our hearts. No matter what we do, our heart motivation will always be the thing that allows our work to bless others. It is not so much the quality of our work (although I believe in excellence) that will bless others, but the heart behind it that makes it into a pleasing offering to the Lord.
Thanks for reading this article. Feel free to ask any questions and leave a comment below.
I wish you the best.
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