Passion and Creativity

Last month, I was honored to be asked to lead a breakout session at ForgeCon'11. The topic I spoke on was "How to Build Passion and Creativity in a Small Worship Team With Limited Resources." That's a mouthful, but it speaks to the heart of a struggle that many small-church worship teams deal with: how to actually create when you have a lack of time, people, money and (let's face it) talent.

I'm not picking on large churches, but let's face it, the worship team in a church of 75-100 people is going to look very different from a church of 750-1000. Many times, a small church has exactly one paid staff member - the senior pastor. And sometimes not even that. Volunteer worship teams, by definition, need to earn their livings by some other means, so the time needed for rehearsals, events and training competes with work and family time. Many times small-team musicians are amateur- or hobby-level musicians at best, and there is little opportunity for improvement. Many times the volunteer worship leader has no time to investigate ways to improve or to get ideas for something different.

I have an acquaintance who was until recently a worship pastor in a large church near where I live. As I spoke to him about his situation one day, I realized he might as well have been talking particle physics to me, so different were the worlds we operated in. This pastor earned his living as a musician - teaching, doing session work, leading worship. He had seven - seven - full teams to manage. That's quite a depth chart. Most of his team members played for a month a couple of times a year, due to the fact there were multiple services. I know another church in New York City that does not even allow someone to audition for one of their worship teams unless that person earns their living as a musician. Crazy!

Judging by the attendance at my particular session, I'm thinking this topic merits discussion. I had a decent-sized group, given the "competition" in the same time slot, and the discussion was lively. The discussion also continued after the breakout, as various people in the group sought me out over the conference for advice with their particular situation.
So I am drafting two posts - one which will address passion, and one creativity. They will summarize the discussion based on my notes, since it seems there is some value in it.
I will leave this post, however, with a thought on biblical artistry.

And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. “And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.

“And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the LORD has commanded.”

- Exodus 35:30 - 36:1

God clearly calls the artist. But notice some things about this calling. God gave Bezalel "wisdom, understanding, knowledge and all manner of workmanship." How does this apply to worship arts? How about wisdom, to know that worship is a necessity, that it drives the life of the worshipper, that it is something that God is worthy of? Understanding of principles of worship, its biblical grounding, its place in the life of the church. Knowledge of the specifics - musical structure, themes, lyrics, technology. Craftsmanship - playing your instrument well, practicing, rehearsing, learning, striving.

Think about it.


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