It’s been a particularly hectic week for the Creative Arts Team at Fellowship. Advent is upon us, and along with churches around the world, our facility is being dressed up for Christmas. The result will be stunning to all, but unseen to most is the effort. Countless hours have been dedicated to splicing wires, cutting wood, and spray painting. It’s a huge effort by those involved—beauty comes at a cost. But is it worth the expense?
We have always cared about appearances. Even when the church met in rented facilities, we worked at shaping our worship environment. And when we finally moved into a dedicated space the sets became more dramatic. I am sure the body enjoys the effect, but I am not sure that they always understand the motivation. Let me start with the motivations that don’t explain efforts:
- We don’t do it to be impressive. Pride is in each of our hearts, but it does not explain this creative work. Hearing “gee whiz” is not the prize.
- We don’t do it to compete. Our desire is not to be compared with the best or elevated above the rest.
- We don’t do it to satisfy demand. With people being exposed to highly designed spaces their expectations are more exacting. We are not seeking to ‘pass muster’.
Why then do we commit the time and resources into building sets? Here are 4 reasons why we shape our environment:
- We want to honor God with our best. A professor once told me that shoddy holy was still shoddy. In other words, calling a weak effort ‘sacred’ doesn’t obscure its ambivalence towards God. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)
- We want to reflect His creative genius. God is a creator with an endless imagination and what He has made is a feast for the eyes. When the arts reflect His creative brilliance they are acts of worship.
- We want to involve the whole person. God made us to experience life through our senses—they are the avenues that fuel our thoughts and emotions. By including the arts in worship the whole person can participate.
- We want to say something. The truths of Scripture are life-giving and we want to convey them in every possible way. When Jesus calls himself the “light of the world”, surely we should use light to make His point. (John 8:12)
I know that we are not to equate the church building with Solomon’s Temple (bad theology!), but two principles do translate. The temple was built to be worthy of God and useful for His people. Likewise, our facility should speak of God to His people. Hopefully, our sets accomplish this goal.