THE ESSENTIAL NEED FOR ARTISTIC EXPRESSION
Artistic expression, as observed in the biblical record, is essential to life and Christian ministry — especially the worship ministries of the church. This is because artistic expression is the key context wherein humans touch the transcendent realities of life and faith.
Artistic and imaginative expressions — the metaphors, symbols, rituals, memorials, ceremonies, liturgies — form the amniotic fluid in which life and community grow and mature. Art is a part of who we are. And it isn’t something people can choose to omit from their lives. Artistic expressions are more than a form of human communication. They are the substance of how we live and grow in the context of both human-to-human and human-to-God-to-human relationships.
In order to see how important God-designed human expression is to the flourishing of both human relationships and in the worship of God, church leaders and worship practitioners need to maintain this critical biblical view of “imaginative human expression.”
Daily Habits of a Disciple
The Gospels articulate four foundational habits the LORD Jesus Himself practiced that He advocated for the first disciples:
- Daily companionship and worship walks with God (where prayer and conversation with God are frequent);
- Daily meeting God in His Scriptures (the Word);
- Daily connecting with supportive relationships (fellowship) with fellow believers; and,
- Daily serving others on God’s behalf (serving).
These four habitual practices seem to be foundational for all believers, regardless of their unique and customized assignments. Therefore, it should go without saying: especially for those who God assigns to lead His congregations in the important and central activities of gathered congregational worship, that they should set their sights on developing these life-long habits to a deep and central level in their own lives.
Worship leadership must be discipled. But to do this, those who disciple worship leaders need to understand:
1) The role of discipleship in life and ministry
2) The cognitive understanding of the basic ingredients of discipleship.
If worship is central to all of life because God is supreme, then it clearly follows that discipling those who lead Christ’s body into worship should be strategic and a high priority. But, it seems evident that few worship leaders are ever intentionally discipled.
Discipleship is the process of investing your life in the lives of others on God’s behalf. This definition specifically comes out of two key New Testament passages related to the term disciple; one spoken by Jesus and the other written by the apostle Paul. In Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) we read, And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Then, in 2 Timothy 2:1-3 (ESV), the Apostle Paul articulates the mandate for discipleship in a clear, authoritative manner: You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
In these verses we see that Jesus called people to follow him, to obey him, and to reproduce others who would do the same. And the disciples responded to this call by indeed following. This is the same response we must have today.