Rory Noland has written a book that I’ve heard a lot about called “The Heart of the Artist“.  While I don’t necessarily consider myself a really artsy or creative type, I do think that there is an artistic element to a time of worship and that as creatures created in the image of an infinitely creative God, there is something deep within us all that desires to create. We just create in different ways.

Besides the obvious example in writing worship songs, I often see creativity in how the flow of a worship set and how the entire worship service goes together. When everything fits together, a worship service is a beautiful harmony of congregational participation, song selection, Scripture reading, sermon, giving, fellowship, prayer, and ministry. All to the glory of God. It’s a marvelous thing to see the Holy Spirit bringing together your efforts of creativity, along with His perfect love, and mixing the seemingly different elements together into one smooth flowing river of purpose and meaning. Honestly, for me as a worship leader, being present when God takes my feeble efforts and ties them with others and creates a glorious time of worship and revels truth to us; there is nothing more satisfying or confirming than that. I love it!

Check out what Rory has to say about the “worshiping artist”, taken from Chuck Fromm’s blog.

I adopted the term “worshiping artist” partly because the label “Christian artist” has proven inadequate if not altogether confusing when discussing Christians in the arts. I agree that the term should be inclusive so as to include both professionals and amateurs, those who serve inside the church as well as outside. However, I do suggest we limit the term to those who have artistic gifts. All human beings have a capacity for creativity because we’re made in the image of a divinely creative God, but that doesn’t mean we’re all artistic. The Old Testament refers to the artists as “skillful ones” (Exodus 28:3 and 36:1-2). So an artist is someone who has an artistic skill and, therefore, does something artistic whether it be music, dance, drama, poetry, prose, video, film, audio, etc. If you do anything artistic, you’re an artist, even if you don’t consider yourself particularly “artsy”… And it doesn’t matter whether one is gifted prodigiously or nominally. In the parable of the talents, one is given five talents, another three, and yet another just one. The point is we are called to steward whatever gifts and abilities God has bestowed upon us.

I also like the emphasis on worship that the term “worshiping artist” carries. As you are well aware, we all worship something or someone. The danger for many artists is that we tend to worship our art, our latest work, and/or ourselves. The worshiping artist, therefore, is someone who does his or her art as a deliberate act of worship to the Triune God. As you eloquently put it, the worshiping artist is uniquely gifted and stirred up to do God’s work. You are also right on to suggest that servanthood plays a vital role in the discussion. The worshiping artist is intent on serving the Lord, the congregation/audience, and finally, his or her art. So the questions every worshiping artist needs to ask include:

  1. What has God gifted me to do?
  2. How can I do it skillfully, with excellence? (Or, how can I continue to grow in my skills?)
  3. Who is my audience?
  4. How can I better serve my audience/congregation?
  5. How can I glorify God in the process?

So those are some thoughts off the top my little sunburned head. I’m very excited about you devoting an issue of Worship Leader to this topic. I think it’s long overdue among Christian leaders today…