Artistic gifts in the church are a treasure. By that I mean that individuals in the church who have artistic gifts make great contributions to the cause of Christ.
1 Corinthians 14:26 says:
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
What this passage (as well as others) shows is that every single person in the church has gifts, and they are supposed to be used “so that the church may be built up”. Not only that, but the Corinthians passage is part of the larger context of chapters 11-14, which are about the actual meetings of the church.
In other words, spiritual gifts aren’t just supposed to be used in mentoring relationships or out in the community. The very meetings themselves must have everyone contributing.
But what we have today is very different. Today, only the pastor and worship leader (and maybe a small handful of other leaders) use their gifts during the church meetings.
But how do we apply this when our church structure is so very different with a singing-then-lecture format? It doesn’t leave much room for others to contribute.Every person in the #church has gifts to be used so that the church may be built up. Click To Tweet
A Special Sharing Time
As some of you may know from past articles, my church meets in homes. And our structure is very different.
Rather than having 30 or so minutes of singing as worship at the beginning, we have a “sharing time” of worship.
All people are encouraged to prepare something throughout the week, so that during the first part of our meetings, they can share it.
So that they can use their gifts.
So if someone has a gift of teaching, even if they are not the senior pastor, they spend 10 minutes bringing that teaching to the church to help edify the body. There is always a leader present, just in case some correction is in order… but I’ll be honest, we’ve never had to frankly correct anyone. When given a chance, our people can really step up.
If someone has a gift of encouragement, they take a few minutes to lift other people up.
If someone has special skills in music, yes, they will play songs for us, either as a performance or as a group singing piece.
Go down the list of gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, and if any of those gifts or other specialized skills are represented in any given church of ours, you better believe that they are used during the meetings to edify the body.
And it is all as worship to God.
An Artistic Form of Worship
As stated above, music is represented at our churches. In fact, almost all churches utilize music in some way.
But music is not the only artistic skill to be used to edify the body.
At our meetings, we have plenty of different kinds of art represented.
Visual artists share their paintings. Dancers bring a dance performance. Dramatists bring a prepared skit (or even sometimes involve the rest of the church in a kind of interactive theater). I have personally shared some of my poetry. We even utilize technology in respect to art.
Almost always, the artistic piece is accompanied either by an explanation or a discussion about how it is supposed to edify the church. Why it is worship. What its significance is in terms of faith and art.#Music is not the only artistic skill to be used to edify the body. #worship Click To Tweet
An Artistic Partnership
But the connection between the church and art does not stop at the special “sharing time”.
Our future goal is to bring on actual artists in residence. Click here for an in-depth look at this concept.
In short, a resident artist program is the mutually beneficial partnership between the artist and the church. The church financially cares for the person. And the artist is able to make a living, while focusing on and producing works of art which can be used to benefit the church.
If a goal of the church is to worship God and be the pillar and support of the truth, then this is a worthwhile investment for everyone involved.
An Artistic Community
Forming a worship guild is very innovative, and so biblical. This is another concept worth an entire post/series. Click here for a past article.
I’ve seen it modeled in CityChurch Ames-Des Moines. And it is a beautiful thing!
So instead of having a normal worship team, which prepares for a single performance on Sunday morning (which wouldn’t work for us, as we meet in scattered churches throughout the city), we would have a worship guild.
The first, and primary difference, is that the worship guild includes all kinds of artists, not just musicians.
They’d meet outside of the church gatherings with 4 purposes:
- To perform/present works of art for each other to spur on creativity for their own performances/presentations at the churches.
- To train others in the churches in specific artistic disciplines.
- To teach on the connection between faith and art (whose lessons can also be used in the “sharing time”).
- To hold classes open to the wider community in the city for training in art. This is done as a service.
So I’ll ask again what the title of this article asks:
Is your church using all its artistic gifts?
I hope I’ve provided you with enough ideas for you to be innovative in your own context. Apply the principles of Scripture in a way which doesn’t neglect the ancient commands for every member to participate. But also do it in a way which is new and fresh.
After all, it is worship to God. And we want it to come truly from the heart. That is what God desires.
Also published on Medium.