PoW: The Heart of Creativity (or the visual arts in worship)

This is the third installment of my Philosophy of Worship:

When I first started leading worship in High School, the ‘worship experience’ meant turning the lights low so that people could feel free to worship. Over the past eleven years this has changed. Blogs and books are being written about multi-sensory worship experiences, normally called gatherings instead of services. Dan Kimball explains his worship team like this, “The palette metaphor describes a group of people who oversee specific areas of creativity (music, fine arts, spoken word, teaching, prayer stations, etc.) Each of the Palette Team members represents a “color” who together “paint” a worship gathering . . .”[1] Kimball views his worship gatherings as an art to themselves. The team does not just do music in a creative way, they are creative in the way their space is set up, they are creative in their lighting, with their visuals, how and where they pray and how the message is delivered each week.

Using visual arts as worship is nothing new as, “In every age the visual arts have offered a means of enticing the viewer beyond the temporal here and now to a larger experience of an eternal world of grace. Art is the bridge between the tangible mundane and the intangible realm of the spiritual.”[2] On the album A Collision (or 3+4=7) David Crowder*Band begins the finale of the album with an interview between David Crowder and an interviewer named Andy. During the course of this interview they reference a poem called “The Lark Ascending”. The point made by this poem is that “art rises filling the heavens and pulls us with it.”[3]

Despite this idea that art pulls us up with it as part of our worship we need to remember that it is still manmade. The art itself should not become the worship or the focus of worship. Too often the art, and specifically a song, becomes what is worshiped and not God. “ . . . the elements for worship are inadequate very much like the atom depiction, but this is what we have, it helps us carry the idea.”[4] When we acknowledge this inadequacy we can never confuse the elements of worship for the thing being worshiped.

“Glorifying God means not exchanging ‘the glory of the immortal God’ for the lie of idolatry.”[5] Idolatry is what happens when song or art become the focus of worship. This is not to say that we should not be creative. If we believe we are children of God, then we are creative just as God is creative, and that needs to be expressed. The heart of the creative person in worship is focused on God and not on what is being created. Her heart of worship allows her to be creative in a God honoring way.

[1] Dan Kimball and Lilly Lewin, Sacred Space: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Multisensory Worship Experiences for Youth Ministry (Soul Shaper), Pap/Cdr ed. (n.p.: Zondervan/Youth Specialties, 2008), 27.


[2] Geoffrey Wainwright and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, eds., The Oxford History of Christian Worship, 1st ptg. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2005), 718.

[3] David Crowder*Band, A Collision or (3 4=7) (n.p.: Six Step Records, 2005), Electronic Format.


[4] Ibid


[5] David Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2002), 170.



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