5 Reasons We Need Art in Worship
Submitted by Jennifer Power
Lately, I have participated in a number of discussions on utilizing art in worship and have come to the conclusion art should be incorporated for a number of reasons. Here are 5 reasons we need art in worship:
1. God is the ultimate artist, and we are created in His image. When we engage our creativity, we are utilizing an aspect of ourselves which reflects God Himself. He could have made us all exactly the same; He could have made the whole world functional but dull with every area of the world looking exactly like the others, but He created the world with beauty and wonder and awe and spectacle. Now, like all aspects of our humanity, our creativity has been damaged by sin, but when we bring our creativity under the hand of God and ask Him to use it for His glory, it becomes a tangible way for us to participate in the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Although I was once fearful of the book of Job, over the years I have come to love its wisdom and beauty. I love when God breaks into the conversation beginning in Job 38 and begins talking with Job about the wonders of His creation come into being by His own hand. God’s creativity is truly a marvel to behold, and it is such a gift to be invited to be a creative reflection of His glory.
2. Art helps people of different learning styles connect with God. There are many who do not learn well by sitting and listening to a person speak. We are beginning to understand in school settings that we must not limit children’s learning to us speaking and them listening. There are many children (and adults) who simply do not learn well in this manner.
Art creates opportunities for varied learning. Music, poetry, preaching, and personal sharing connects to auditory learners. Physical artwork, photography, drama, dance, and sign connects to visual learners. Those who learn by doing can take active roles in preparing and carrying out art in worship services and through artistic elements which invite worshipers out of their seats to come participate in live art which is completed during the actual service. Many people learn through not just one style of learning but through many, and art is an excellent way to begin helping worshipers learn and engage with God in multi-faceted ways which can lead to greater retention and life transformation.
3. Art helps us express our worship to God when words do not suffice. Music certainly helps us express our worship to God, but there are other artistic means of worship as well. A painting, photograph, or a dance can sometimes speak that which we struggle to put into words. Art can speak to us in on an emotional level and help us relate to one another in our pain and struggles.
4. Art invites vulnerability which leads to stronger community. Meaningful art requires a great deal of vulnerability on the part of the artist and often invites those who experience the work to enter into that vulnerability. Strong community is difficult to accomplish when vulnerability is absent. Tightly knit communities must enter into one another’s struggles and into the broken realities of actual life in order to be meaningful. Art can be an effective way to invite each other into vulnerability.
5. Art allows people with different types of gifts to contribute to corporate worship. So often, corporate worship expressions are limited to gifted speakers and musicians, yet there are so many people with creative gifts and talents which are often underutilized in worship services. The best Christian communities are collaborative with everyone being bought in and contributing their best gifts. When we seek out gifted artists among us and invite them to bring their creativity into worship, the whole congregation is benefited.
These are just a sampling of the many reasons we need art in the Church of Jesus Christ. If you are interested in more information on this topic, check out the YouTube series Why The Church Needs Art (I have included part one below). If you have an artistic gift you believe would benefit the church, consider bringing it to the attention of your leadership and offering to utilize it in a worship setting. If you are a St. Paul’s worshiper or are in the Decatur area, consider signing up your kids (3 years-6th grade) for our Fall Wednesday night children’s class which will focus on utilizing creativity for the glory of God, and you can find more information in the links below.
Next Wednesday, September 9th, Fall F3 begins. If you have never been a part of our F3 (Family-Faith-Formation) evenings, I encourage you to consider joining us this Fall. You can bring your whole family as there are study and fellowship opportunities for all ages, and dinner is provided (a freewill offering is taken). During this 11 week session, the children (3 years – 6th grade) will be exploring the Bible and their creativity through a class put together by our SHiNe team called Utilizing Your Creativity for the Glory of God. Click here for more information about this class and other SHiNe children’s opportunities this fall. Click here to sign up or for more information on Fall F3 here at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
For more information about art in worship, check out The Creative Church Handbook by J. Scott McElroy