Bob Webber

Bob Webber

Here’s a  quote from one of my mentors, Bob Webber, as featured in this weekly post from The Institute for Worship Studies.

Worship is a means through which we can see, hear, smell, taste, feel, and come into contact with the infinite.

Therefore the arts can mediate the message of Christ and minister to me in the depth of my being. . . .

The future of the arts in worship, I believe, holds considerable promise for us in our continued discovery of worship as a verb.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 200.

So, 20 years later, does this promise still hold true?

Have the arts been more fully integrated in mediating the message of Christ “in the depth of your being”?

What’s been your experience?

Here’s two of mine. Truth is, it’s been a mixed bag (20 years is a long time.)

First. There was a season when the community I was part of had a wide variety of artistic expressions included in the worship experience. Sometimes it was inspired and executed well, other times it wasn’t so magnificent.

That all went away in recent years with a new leader whose vision was much more sensitive to appearances. Everything had to be hip, cool and perfect.  So the role of “the arts” as a part of the corporate worship experience greatly declined.

Sad but true. There’s more to the story, and a future still being written, but that’s one of my experiences.

Another. Not so long ago we attended a multi-media Tenebrae service that was high impact and really creative. A simple but deep mixture of sight, song and sound.

The arts were authentically released in a way that did “mediate the message of Christ and minister to me in the depth of my being.

One can still hope.

Communities that value the role of arts in worship, like Willow Creek Association and Sojourn, can encourage us to keep at it.

How about your context? Are the arts thriving in your worship community? What’s been your experience?