God the Father engineered the existence of the earth; He formed every living thing from His imagination and even stretched out the heavens himself! While on the earth, Jesus taught in parables, walked on water, wrote in the dirt and even used Roman coins as a teaching aid. The point is this:
WE SERVE A CREATIVE GOD!
What’s more, we’re made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27)!
That means that as image bearers of the ultimate creator, we have the overwhelming privilege of possessing our own portion of His immense creativity.
When we create, we are reflecting a personality trait of God!
SO, WHY USE THE CREATIVE ARTS IN THE CHURCH?
There’s no escaping it – the creative arts have attracted a bit of a bad reputation over the last decade or so in some church circles. Production levels have gone through the roof and the spectacles are incredible, but we have probably all seen examples of churches where it seems more about the performance than the genuine worship of the Lord of Lords at times. Having said that, I believe there are three crucial purposes to the creative arts in a church setting:
1. An act of worship to God
2. A support in the development of our faith
3. A powerful evangelistic tool.
1. AN ACT OF WORSHIP TO GOD.
We’re instructed to sing throughout Scripture. It’s certainly a powerful form of worship…(Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19, Mary sings in worship to God (Luke 1), Paul and Silas worship through song in prison (Acts 16), even Jesus sings a hymn after the Last Supper (Matthew 26). but singing alone misses the full expression of worship that God intended for us.
Singing alone misses the full expression of worship that God intended for us
There are two Greek words that are translated as “worship” in the New Testament:
“Proskuneo” – it basically means a sense of “awe and reverence”. Imagine of that deep feeling of respect you would feel if the Queen or President entered the room, but infinitely magnified. (Eg. of use – John 4:24)
“Latreuo” – “priestly service”. For example, when we talk about worship through tithing or serving at the church, that’s latreuo worship (Eg. of use – Romans 12:1).
In my opinion, I think that one of the reasons that singing in worship has become such a large part of Sunday church services is because we sing to God (an act of priestly service to God), and at the same time are moved by theologically rich lyrics that lead us to a sense of awe and reverence of God. Both proskuneo and latreuo worship.
When we use any of the gifts that God has given us to serve the Lord and His people, it becomes an act of worship! We can serve God in our creativity (latreuo worship) – the output of which (music, arts and crafts, video, architecture, etc.) can move people to awe and reverence of God (proskuneo worship).
2. A SUPPORT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR FAITH.
It’s amazing how we’re moved by the music or visual arts. You only have to watch “The Passion” to be blown away by the truth of the Gospel once more! There’s a reason we have the phrase “a picture paints a thousand words”.
Creative arts can draw on the senses in a profound way to help people meditate on the truth of Scripture. For some reason, the Holy Spirit doesn’t always illuminate Scriptures to us from the pages of the Bible alone (although, of course, He could at any moment). Sometimes we have a hard time understanding the depth and reality of what we’re reading.
To be clear: Scripture is never the issue – the issue is our flawed ability to comprehend it!
Creative arts can draw on the senses in a profound way to help people meditate on the truth of Scripture.
Through the arts, we can help people visual the immensity of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross or begin to understand (slightly better) the enormity of our Creator. John Piper put it this way:
“We need to find artistic ways to awaken in people affections that will glorify God”
In other words, when used with the proper motivations, the use of creative arts should point believers towards a deeper relationship with God and a deeper understanding of the Bible.
3. A POWERFUL EVANGELISTIC TOOL.
Remember, Jesus didn’t just teach from scrolls when he ministered. He used a number of different methods to communicate the same truth to the people He encountered.
For me personally, as a 19-year-old atheist, I was drawn to church by the great music. I was impressed that people would go to such lengths to worship their God. I was broken by a drama called the “Everything Skit”. These creative expressions help me understand the gravity of the truth that I had avoided reading in the Bible.
My story isn’t original. The creative arts have phenomenal ability to connect people with the truth of Scripture in exciting and often powerful ways! Excitingly, as well as being a form of worship, the creative arts are a means by which we can live out the Great Commission, planting seeds of truth into the lives of the lost and drawing alongside them as God causes those seeds to grow. I can’t think of anything much more exciting than that!