Artists make beautiful things that help people respond to God and give Him glory. It’s an easy concept to grasp, and most of us have experienced music and other created things that have helped us worship God. The church needs true artists.
Great art happens when the artist is “in the moment” working in freedom—when they are not trying to impress anyone and have let go of their insecurities for a moment. Like when a child is happily scribbling on a piece of paper singing a random improvised song.
I consider myself to be an artist but I’m not trying to elevate myself with that title. Our culture seems to have a love/hate relationship with artists. We see them as a kind of mystical shaman floating above the rest of us (this is not what I am claiming about myself) and we also see them as dysfunctional and childish.
Artists are children that never let the creative part of themselves grow up. We just become more sophisticated with our scribbling and more intentional about our random songs. We still have to tap into that same place of joy and freedom if we are going to express a true response to the wonder and awesomeness of God.
This is difficult in the grown-up world of church work because we are tempted to squash “the child within” so we can act like an adult. We have responsibilities, assignments and deadlines—they don’t pay us to play with colorful blocks in a sandbox. We crave the approval of our pastor and church leaders and don’t want to be thought of as irresponsible or childish. We tell our creative inner child to sit still, mind his manners and stop acting like a baby. We squash him into submission and put him in perpetual “time out.”
We silence the part of ourselves that knows how to find joy in music, listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit, and follow our bliss to the creative places—the secret nooks and fantastic crannies—where adults don’t fit.
Our ideas become “safe” and “sterile,” inspiring no one, neither ourselves nor anyone else. Sunday morning worship becomes a performance, polluted with insecurity and self-doubt. We bury ourselves under the burden of perfectionistic striving. We worship God with one eye on our leaders, imagining their disapproval while hoping for their affirmation.
This is the way of burnout and death to our soul.
It’s time to release your child from detention. Time to go outside and throw the ball around, get some crayons, lay on your belly and draw a picture that shows the glory of God the Father seated on His Heavenly throne—with you sitting on His lap—because that’s where you belong.
We are worshipers that never let the childlike part of ourselves grow up.
It’s from this place that we will be happiest and most able to lead our congregation. When it is not about our need for affirmation from the people we are serving, or our need for significance and perfectionism. Our core identity is not who we are in our church job. It can be hard to remember but our first identity is that we are a beloved child of God.
Take a moment to let that sink in: God has called you to be His child and for you to call Him Father. Freedom in worship and creativity in art flow from the safety and truth of that reality. That is the gift of true worship arts in the church.
Come as a child.