Thursday, April 24, 2008

Building The Artistic Community In The Church

I recently got this from a friend of mine Chris Taylor down Texas way. It is one of the best things on worship I have read in a long time. You can check out Chris’s MySpace page by clicking here. It will be interesting to get your thoughts and comments from the article, especially if you are involved in worship, enjoy worship, or are a musician of any sort. I don’t normally post blogs or articles from other people that should say something about the quality of this one. Enjoy! Also special thanks to Chris for granting permission to repost this.

From Chris Taylor

Building the Artistic Community in the Church

I have a strong, unshakable belief that genuine musicians and singers and artists should dream up the kind of church they want to be a part of. I believe that these "dreamers" should be dreaming up the future in the songs we sing, the sounds we hear and the art we see and feel. Psalm 96:1 ~ Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth

So often, the "Local Church" falls behind the times in the style or presentation of music and artistic...if any at all) and we settle for less than excellent in many areas of our worship. At the least, we are guilty of not recognizing modern forms of communication, musically and otherwise. Psalm 98:1 ~ [A psalm.] Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

My dream as a church music director or worship leader is that I can go outside the box of the traditional "worship team" format. I want to combine faith and doubt on the same stage. I want to see a church strong enough to embrace musicians and artists who are seekers, doubters and people struggling to believe in a God who loves them unconditionally. I would love to see them side by side with strong believers and passionate God-Chasers. Psalm 149:1 ~ Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.

As a church, I hope we would want these kinds of people fill the seats on Sunday. I know we want them to eventually start becoming followers of Christ, tithing and integrating their families into the church. But are we willing to give them a safe place to use their gifts and talents and skills to create a tapestry of artistic expression that is unique, passionate and honest before God? Psalm 139 ~ Give God the biggest part of your life… because He knows every part of your life

It’s my belief to reveal all aspects of the human condition in the church’s artistic expression of our faith – or our lack of faith at times. Ultimately, God is glorified and his praise will resound. But rarely do we find a church bold enough to ask the questions about our journey toward faith as we are about praising our Savior for the good work He’s done in our lives. John 4:23 ~ Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

Imagine a place… a community of artists working side by side; hand in hand to present the Good News of the Gospel meets the State of the Human Condition through music, drama, visual art and any other kind of communication we can dream up! Imagine a place where believers don’t judge people who doubt, questions lead to answers and God’s strength abounds in our weakness. Isaiah 42:10 [ Song of Praise to the Lord ] Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.

So many of San Antonio’s great musicians are playing their music in venues all over town. Most of them are playing in bars, clubs and coffee houses – trying to get their "soul music" or music from their soul – heard by others who can relate. Is anyone from the church listening? Is anyone from the church willing to hear their soul music, their own journey through life? How can the church reach out to these musicians where they are?

I believe one way to reach them is to develop the kind of relationship where there is mutual love and respect for each other’s musical expression. If these "secular" musicians accept our invitation to share their gifts in the Local Church, how amazing is it that they would say, "Yes" and give their time and energy to the Church Community? Under the leadership of the Church Worship Leader – they could be an effective tool in presenting the thoughts of many people in the community who have always felt that church is no place for people with questions – rather people who have already found the answers. John 4:23 Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.

'…we cannot imagine that the church gathers for worship on Sunday morning if by this we mean that we then engage in something that we have not been engaging in the rest of the week.’

D.A. Carson, in D.A. Carson (ed.), Worship by the Book

(Zondervan, 2002), 24.

Isaiah 58:6-8

I’ll tell you what it REALLY means to worship the Lord:
Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.
Free those who are abused.
Share your food with everyone who is hungry.
Share your home with the poor and homeless.
Give clothes to those in need.
Don’t turn away your relatives.
Then your light will shine like the dawning sun
And you will be quickly healed…
Your honesty will protect you as you advance…
And the glory of the Lord will defend you from behind

It is then - and only then - we as the church will have the desired effect on the community around us.

I looked for various worship songs to fit Chris's words here. I don't know if this is the best one, but it is a pretty good one. If you see the video below, just double click on it. Otherwise, just click on the link.

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