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Creativity and Worship

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Worship ministries are often filled with creative people. And those “creative types” can sometimes get a bad rap. Creativity is a wonderful, God-given gift that points to our being made in the image of God, the Creator - so give thanks for those “creative types”! And for those of us who use our creativity in the context of worship ministry, we must remember that creativity is the servant, not the master.

Creativity for creativity’s sake is always out of place in a worship service. We don’t want our creative elements to compete with or confuse the message of God's truth we are presenting. We want it to compliment and bring clarity. Creativity is the servant of the message.

Some Observations

I’d like to make some observations about creativity’s servant role by sharing “real-life” examples from three worship services I attended this year.

Example #1: The first was an instrumental arrangement of a worship song that I’ve rarely heard in the past 20 years. The accompanying graphic presentation was beautiful - rotating images of cathedrals and architectural detail from churches hundreds of years old. The images were stunning, but there were no words on the slides.

Because I knew the words to the song, I was able to think on the message and turn my heart to worship. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about those in the congregation who did not know the song. I thought of the unbelievers in the room who had never heard the words. For the fragment of the congregation who did know the song, it was an opportunity to engage in worship. But for the others, it may have been only a musical interlude creatively packaged with interesting images of old architecture.

Example #2: The second was an instrumental arrangement of a song I did not know. The accompanying slides had no words, just interchanging colorful patterns.

Color and patterns are often used to help tell a story - but without words, there was no story to follow. The music was beautiful, the slides were interesting, but what I engaged in was an appreciation of an aesthetic experience. I was a spectator.

Example #3: The third was an instrumental arrangement of a song I did not know. The accompanying slides had colorful textured backgrounds, but the focal point was the words of the song. The message was there - in the words - and the creative elements did not compete with it or confuse it.

God Can Use Anything

God can use anything to reach the hearts of His people - and to reach the hearts of the lost. Thankfully, He doesn’t need us to get everything right in order to draw people to Himself. But that doesn’t take us off the hook. Those who plan and facilitate worship services have a responsibility to think carefully through the creative elements presented. We have a responsibility to use our creativity to bring clarity and focus to the truth of God’s word. We also have a responsibility to ask the hard questions about our creative elements.

Are we bringing clarity - or are we confusing or competing with the message?

Are we presenting an opportunity for believers to engage their minds and enter into worship?

Are we making sure unbelievers are presented with a clear message?

So, my creative friends - create away! And remember your creativity must be a servant, not the master.

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