Discipling the Eyes Through Art in Worship
Discipling the Eyes Through Art in Worship

What if we saw the arts in worship as part of discipleship? What if we saw the arts as essential, rather than optional, to the Spirit's work of forming us in the image of Christ when we gather as a corporate body? What if a carefully crafted work of visual art enabled a congregation to see its mission in a radically new light? What if art in worship could yield a substantively formative experience?

These are the types of questions we were asking several years ago when I was a pastor at Hope Chapel in Austin, Texas. We invited Laura Jennings, one of our members, to exhibit art she had created while pursuing her master's degree at the University of North Texas. Our church, broadly situated in the stream of evangelical Pentecostalism, had "sent" her off three years earlier, and now she returned with a fresh body of work. And while it was designed for her Master of Fine Arts, we felt it would serve our context too.

When her art first appeared in the sanctuary, I explained to the congregation that, as with all the visual art that hung there, Laura's work was not here merely to ornament our space (though it did that). It was here to help us to see the gospel afresh, and as it did so, we hoped it would inspire us to live out the gospel afresh. Just as Jesus repeatedly directed his disciples to notice things that society ignored, so Laura's work accentuated groups we frequently overlooked: the Dalits of India and victims of war violence.

But it was more than the subject matter that challenged us. It was the style, more abstract than literal. The work did not yield its meaning easily. Some folks saw only strange figural shapes in vibrant colors. Some perhaps saw nothing but a token of decoration to the sanctuary. Some, though, took ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueNontraditional Believers Recover Christian Community
Nontraditional Believers Recover Christian Community Subscriber Access Only
Renewal in the post-war Balkans comes from outside the God box.
RecommendedCover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Cover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel ChurchSubscriber Access Only
Some visitors claim to be healed. Others claim to receive direct words from God. Is it 'real'--or dangerous?
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Discipling the Eyes Through Art in Worship
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.