Thoughts for Artists in the Church

August 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

For a number of years I was part of an excellent conference – the re:Create Conference in Nashville. You can read all about what re:create is about HERE (and if you’ve never been, I would recommend it to you if you are involved in the arts or are a church leader). It is an outstanding, paradigm-shifting experience.

In 2010, author Stephen Mansfield was one of our keynote speakers and he gave the following insights for worship leaders/worship pastors/arts pastors/artists in the church, especially as it pertains to working with your senior leader. They were great words then, when I was still an arts pastor. And they resonate even more, now that I am a senior pastor:


Most senior pastors are insecure people. I know I am. They are insecure because they are human. Many also do not know what to do with the power artists represent.

What Artists Need to Know

1. Artists want to world to understand them.
According to Mansfield: “Ain’t gonna happen.” Instead, artists need to learn to be who they are in the face of being misunderstood – that’s how God designed it. Oh, and by the way… everyone feels misunderstood. The temptation for the artist is to go and start a church for everyone like themselves. That merely creates spiritual constipation. Constipation comes from the Latin, “constipis,” which means “to stand so close to one another that no one moves.” And that’s a bad thing.

2. The goal of the artist should not be to “get from” the senior pastor, but to “journey with him/her.
Instead of being a taker, the artist should build into the life of the senior leader – be a pastor to them.

3. The artist needs to pull in the same direction as the pastor.
The “worship/music” event cannot be separate from what God is doing in the culture of the church or in response to it. The artist should focus on “moving the ball down the field” with the senior pastor.

4. Question: What is the culture on the worship/arts team encouraging to grow?
Complaining, negativity, oversensitivity, grumbling, and immaturity breeds negative, oversensitive, back-biting complainers. Is that really what you want to do with your ministry?

5. The artist should see his need to be a moral example as equal to that of the senior leader.
In other words, expect as much from yourself as from your senior leader (more, if necessary). Do not expect something from your pastor that you are unwilling to do.

6. Remember: You cannot just love the art. You must love the people.
If you are in the worship /arts ministry for the sake of the art, please… do us all a favor: find a different job. At the end of the day, ministry is about helping as many people as possible become totally committed to Jesus. If that’s not your thing, cool. Just go get a job somewhere else and leave the church to people who care about people.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Be a part of the discussion by leaving a comment.

Pat Callahan

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I'm a picker. I'm a grinner. I'm a lover. And I'm a sinner. I make my music in the sun.

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