An Artist's Place in Church
Have you ever felt undervalued by the church because of your gifts?
As a worship leader, it isn’t rare for the church to value or affirm my gifting. I enjoy leading on and off stage a group or congregation of people in worshipping God through praise and worship music. Worship music is expected to be heard at the church. It’s not a “special element” in a service; rather, it’s a big part of the service to many churches.
Yet, so many friends of mine have incredible gifts that are not “ordinary” or traditional for churches to embrace. So how can they cultivate and use their gifts to edify the church when there is rarely space for that?
Please, hear me out! I am not tearing down the church because we, in fact, are the Church. If the church is the people, when we challenge “the church,” we are really challenging ourselves. Two questions I am pressed to ask are these:
How can “the Church” better serve artists? How can artists serve the church with their gifts?
WHAT TYPES OF ARTISTS ARE OUT THERE?
- Prophetic Painters
- Craftsmen / Craftswomen
- Sketch / Drawing Artists
- Classical (or Cultural) Music
- Spoken Word
- Flag Dancing
- Hip Hop Artists
- Actors / Actresses
- Creative Writers
These are just a few of the vast variety…
As we open up this discussion of an artist’s place in the church, there are a few tips I’d like to share for both church leaders and artists in this process. As part of a church staff, I would like to encourage other leaders in how we can help to shift the culture from undervaluing artists to valuing them for how they reflect God’s creativity. As well, there are tips I’ve seen work for some of my creatives out there. My prayer is that these words will encourage the Church to work together to truly look like the body of Christ, valuing each part and how we all glorify God in different ways.
HOW SHOULD CHURCH LEADERS RESPOND?
- Give time to cultivating a space for artists to encourage, equip, and empower each other. This can take place, for example, in a bi-monthly artistry night meet up where creatives can share their art and engage meaningfully with the Word of God through creative expression.
- Make the church aware of these giftings through building a culture of Creative Worship, not just musical worship. On your church’s website, Youtube channel, or social media you can post videos and photos of what the creatives in your church are doing. As well, share these moments from the pulpit. Be a culture creator from the front.
- Ask the Holy Spirit for direction as you plan your services. Include spiritually mature creatives in the process. Ask how the artists in your community feel loved and valued. Maybe the dancers or painters in your church can use their gift during your time of musical worship. You may be able to include a creative writer in your sermon. It’s possible a DJ in your church feels valued by having a space to teach others through workshops. You’ll only know how to move forward with creatives if you ask.
HOW SHOULD ARTISTS RESPOND?
- Give lots of grace. Extend grace to church members and leaders who may have unintentionally made you feel less than or undervalued because of your gifting. Get to a healthy place of healing and unity so that God can use you mightily in any way He so chooses.
- Practice and cultivate your gift. Church leaders and pastors want to be able to trust that there is quality in what you are sharing. As they spend weeks and countless hours preparing messages and set lists in excellence, they want to know you will also be committed to a spirit of excellence in your gifting.
- Stay connected to other artists and creatives in the process. Don’t allow your fire to go out because you aren’t creating. God has given you something beautiful, so continue to seek out other creatives who will encourage you in your gifting. Create the community you wish existed.
- Make God’s Word top priority as you create. Be sure to seek Him when you are using your gifting. Ask how it blesses Him and the body of believers! Be committed to how He wants to use your gifts.
I pray this encourages and empowers you in some way to value and protect creativity in the church! It is so needed, especially in this next generation. Young leaders are rising up that are not okay with just going through the church motions. Let’s be encouragers of the creative ways God can express His character and Word to us!