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We live in a day and age where worship generally takes one form in the minds of Christians in America:  Music for a half hour on Sunday mornings before the sermon (and maybe one reprise after the sermon).

As you know at The Borough, we thrive on innovation.  Simply put, worship does not need to be confined to this form.  Nor should it.

Now, I get it, most Christians would agree that “worship” is a dynamic lifestyle which includes every decision we make throughout the day to put God before ourselves.

Yes, that’s true.

art clayBut for this article, I want to focus on intentional, public, corporate worship.  Most of us can’t even think of what possibilities exist outside of the current model.

I came across the idea of a “resident artist” as I was studying church and culture.  There are some churches who do this.

Generally speaking, a resident artist is someone whom the church employs (actually pays) to teach about art and faith, teach artistic skills, and then use those artistic skills to edify the church.  Some churches call it Pastor of Art, Art Minister, Leader of Artistic Outreach, etc.

Whatever it’s called, it is very different from the common idea of worship leader, and this article explains the difference.

Most of us can't even think of what possibilities exist outside of the current model. #worship Click To Tweet

Music Only vs All Forms of Art

Worship leaders generally tend to work all week with their team to put on a high-quality music performance on Sunday.

Obviously, this is a very good thing.  I swear, I’m not trying to discount it at all.

But let’s also consider what other art forms could be beneficial to the church.  The resident artist may personally focus on form, whether music, visual art, drama, etc, but he or she is tasked to promote all kinds in the body.  They would be in charge of putting together a team of artists who can contribute their diverse artistic gifts to everyone.

This allows more people to participate, as there are more outlets for artistic expression.  Worship then becomes a much more robust offering to God, as the different expressions bring more opportunities for others to relate and participate.

Sunday vs Everyday

A worship leader’s focus is Sunday morning.  All the work done through the week is meant for Sunday morning (and for some, Wednesday nights as well).

But a resident artist has priorities all throughout the week.  You see, it is not only for the main meeting that they work for.  But also for separate, very diverse projects –

As examples, a worship guild (as explained below), community outreach, setting up galleries, recording music, writing and directing plays, publishing writings, and many more.

Worship Team vs Worship Guild

worship teamA worship team will rehearse throughout the week and provide an often amazing set of music for the congregation (again, I’m not saying this is somehow inadequate.  It’s a sweet offering to God, and one we see commonly in the Psalms).

But a worship guild offers that and more.

I spent more time explaining the concept of the Worship Guild in another article.  But in short, it is a group of artists who are tasked with equipping the church to worship more richly through diverse artistic skills.

They are the ones who teach why art is important to our faith.  They help others grow in their specific artistic skillset.  They perform/display their art in a corporate worship setting.

And they, as seen in the next section, interact with the community.

Performance vs Community Interaction

A worship team’s function is to perform music in a way that causes the congregation to engage in heartfelt worship of God.  I’ve heard this called “entering into worship”.

Again, the resident artist is tasked to do this, and more.

They must engage the church with art, as all the other points explain, but they must also engage the community with art as an outreach.

Some ideas are as follows:

  1. A community pottery class
  2. Setting up an Art in the Park event or other public galleries
  3. Free public concerts
  4. I know of a church which teaches art classes at the juvenile detention center.  This idea is just so good on so many levels.
  5. Community theatre

Volunteer vs Paid

artist drawingI know many churches out there pay their worship leader.  That’s good.  With this section, I’m just trying to say that if you would ever have a worship leader volunteer, you should never make a resident artist do his or her work pro bono.

Why not?  There are a few reasons why not.

First and foremost, we must communicate to the artists that their work as worship is worthwhile, and that it is so worthwhile, that we would use hard-earned money to pay for it.  It gives their work literal value, and shows them that their gifts are important.

Secondly, an artist has to make a living, too.  Simple as that.

Thirdly, it benefits the church to make worship more dynamic and robust (not to mention, it pleases God!).  If we pay our artists, then they will naturally be able to give more time to serving the church with their art.

It benefits the #church to make #worship more dynamic and robust. Click To Tweet

Resident Artists

So consider this new idea.  Consider how much better you can edify your church and serve the community with a resident artist.

Their gifts are valuable, and you will be able to engage people that you were never able to engage before.

And all this for the glory of Christ!


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