A LARGER-THAN-NORMAL-UNDERSTANDING OF WORSHIP LEADERSHIP
Dr. Byron Spradlin
I believe that worship leadership should have a larger-than-normally-understood meaning. First, the label worship leadership includes three groups of people . . .
- Worship-leader practitioners
- Volunteer church leaders
The reality is that so often the non-artistic leadership of the church has the most to say about the worship of the church. Whether they recognize it or not, each of these leadership groups—pastors and volunteer church leaders, as well as the specific worship leader practitioners—are leading and shaping the worship lives of North American Christians.
It’s now time for the attitudes and practices of those comprising each of these groups of leaders to change its attitude toward the arts if the North American Church is going to increase its effectiveness in moving worship back toward its rightful, central, place in the life of the Church and its people. And remember, it’s these three groups who must initiate intentional efforts to prioritize the task of discipling the next generation’s worshipers and worship leaders.
OUR IMAGINATIVE HUMAN EXPRESSION
Dr. Byron Spradlin
I believe that imaginative human expression is an accurate description of the phenomenon of the creative and imaginative activities that people often call art. The Modernist concept of art is generally the default definition people have: “Art is the activities and objects of abstract contemplation.” This definition is neither correct (in the context of reality) nor helpful (concerning why God designed imaginative abilities, activities, contexts, environments, or artifacts).
God designed artistic expressions, contexts, and activities (like rituals, liturgies, pageants, ceremonies, memorials, and such) so that finite human beings and human communities can interact with transcendent realities, starting with the worship of the Creator God. But today in our churches, with the normal views held about artistic expression and artistic specialists, art and artists are generally either written off or not considered in the first place.
This reality is both a shame and a mistake. We need to reshape the church’s thinking habits about creative expression, art, and artists—especially as these things relate to the life of the Church and its worship. The concept of imaginative human expression actually underscores the important role of our God-designed imaginal intelligence.
Byron & Pam Spradlin
Faithing, a term I’ve coined, attempts to join two dynamics that must be mysteriously combined in order for faith to actually exist:
- Dynamic 1: The intellectual assent of the objective truth that God does exist and undergirds all life and living, not to mention any particular movement of the believer.
- Dynamic 2: The in-the-moment-trust and implementation-in-the-actual-moment of life where the believer is “having faith.”
An example would be the moment when Peter steps out of the boat and actually walks on water. Peter, in that instant, was faithing. It’s getting at what both Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6 are saying: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen . . . And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:1 & 6, ESV).
Faithing, then, is the in-the-moment mystery of actually trusting in God and His sustaining power. It’s that “transactional” “mysterious” reality that’s more than “having” faith; it’s “implementing” faith, actively, actually, and authentically.
WHAT IS AN ARTISTIC KINGDOM SERVANT?
Byron & Pam
The designation artistic Kingdom servant attempts to underscore and draw together the biblical revelation that artistically endowed people hold specific and important roles within the Kingdom purposes and plans of God. Also, they are given by God certain stewardships through their artistic capacities for which they are responsible to carry out.
Both the artistic person—the one who often sees no place for their capacities, passions, and abilities in the service of God’s Church—and Church leaders—who most often either see no place for the artistic specialist in the work of the Church and its mission or fear that these “artists” will actually be hurtful to the purposes of the Church—will see the role of the artist as strategically designed and assigned by God for His Kingdom purposes.
Jesus, though He never affirmed breaking the Laws of God, always affirmed an inner heart-focus and expression in intimacy of relationship with God. Worship, as Jesus modeled and declared (e.g. John 4:19-24 ), is a way of life, a relationship, a life-walk wherein we live out the purpose for which God created us and intended from the beginning—to companion with Him in constant worship of Him. The artistic kingdom servant, then, is someone who must be in an intimate, never-ceasing, companionship with God.