Gospel & Arts Perspective
All of creation reveals God’s love for humanity and beauty. He is the source of all that is good, beautiful and true. His Spirit and purpose permeate creation, which flows out of God’s perfect community, and continues to redeem our broken world, making all things one and new. Made in the image of God, all human beings possess the ability to create and /or experience art, although our fallen nature allows us to do so imperfectly. At the core, we're all connected through the same basic desires, needs, and hopes. Through creativity, we search to find meaning, constantly wrestling with dualities (earthly passions and heavenly longings), seeking fulfillment and purpose. In the gospel, God initiates and we respond to His goodness and beauty with new eyes; finding true identity and peace in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Gospel & Arts Practice
A continual dependence on the Gospel of Jesus is central for all creativity; with a growing understanding of His love and mercy becoming the impetus for all creativity. Throughout the creative process, His Spirit calls us to work in collaboration and community; following His example within the Trinity. As His grace is continually revealed, we respond with acts of beauty, truth and goodness. In corporate worship, art can be offered as illustrations in response to the Central Text; showcasing His redeeming love while exploring the wonder and beauty of Christ. In addition, attributes of His beauty can be shared through artistic outreach with the surrounding community and beyond; moved to love Him and others above all else (even creativity).
- Because He permeates all of life, we seek to offer creative windows that point to His all-encompassing presence and goodness.
- Because He is creative by nature and we are created in His image, art connects with the very essence of our being and will be incorporated into all we do.
- Because He is the Creator and we His (fallen but in renewal) creation, our creativity will always be less than His and always in response (to His Word, Spirit, and/or Creation.
- Because all humans are connected through the same core longings and desires, there is no such thing as Christian or secular art. It is simply art created by humans wrestling with concepts of beauty, truth and goodness; ultimately found in the person and work of Christ.
- Because we're earthly creatures longing for the divine, our creativity is most complete when it seeks to express ongoing tension and dualities (ie. hope & pain, light & darkness, word & image, faith & works, earthly & divine passions, etc…) yet strives to offer third-way possibilities found in the Gospel.
- Because we are called “to be in the world but not of it,” we seek to be fully engaged with culture while finding rest and hope in the beauty and truths of the Gospel.
- Because an understanding of the Gospel is foundational in all our creativity, we strive to encourage all artists towards some type of ongoing community & discipleship.
- Because our identity is in Christ, we seek to throw off fear or self-glory and instead create in collaboration and community in shared service with others.
- Because we are called to a life of faith led by the Spirit, we strive for an organic process in creativity; forming ideas and plans yet holding loosely when necessary and always listening.
- Because we desire to remain connected to cultural themes and wrestlings, we strive to offer artistic expressions in worship that are corporate and accessible to all walks of life; while illustrating the relevancy of the Gospel.
- Because worship services are corporate (younger & elder brothers) we strive to prayerfully consider all artistic risks and the negative impacts that may result.
- Because we strive to follow the Regulative principal in worship: All forms in a service are prayerfully designed to flow from God’s commanded elements (preaching, praise, prayer, sacraments) and thematically serve the central text of the day. Vertical (to God) and horizontal (as one Body) participation always considered, and any art offered as illustrative, supportive and simply one piece of the whole; with the person and work of Christ central throughout.
- Because we believe true revelation is given through the Spirit, we strive to offer excellence with creativity but trust the Spirit to give new eyes rather than artistic manipulation or excessive production.
- Because we desire to lead the congregation and surrounding culture to Gospel practices and missional living, we strive to offer communications that engage through beauty, story, and the larger compelling metanarrative of the Gospel.
- Because we believe the people are the church (and not the building), we call our facility Grace Centre and use it for church activities as well as community art events (art exhibits, plays, concerts, etc...) seeking to remove man made walls while prayerfully considering the use and impact of all art forms offered.
- Because we desire to reach the community and beyond, outreach events are designed to tear down walls and build bridges, connecting people from all walks of life, while offering windows of beauty and truth found in the Gospel.
- Because we trust the Spirit to draw and reveal, we strive to not offer overtly evangelistic methods (such as tracks, altar calls, excessive manipulation) with any artistic events or community gatherings.
- Because we believe the Gospel is central, the success of this ministry will not be measured by creativity alone but rather our an understanding of His love and finished work and the impetus to extend this good news with others through acts of beauty, truth, and goodness.
Much of the dissatisfaction and controversies over worship styles would be resolved if we continually remembered that worship is first and foremost about God and for Him and not us. Worship must have a vertical direction and intent or it ceases to be worship and slips into a form of spiritual consumerism.
At Grace that vertical direction is also reflected in how we worship. God challenges us not to start with what we like but with what He desires. Imagine if you had a birthday party or baby shower where it was obvious the event had very little to do with what pleases you but more to do with the egos of those who arranged it or participated in it. Corporate worship is about celebrating and honoring God through the expressions He most loves. Those can be broadly generalized from the Bible as praise, prayer and preaching. Through praise and prayer we communicate with God, and He has chosen to communicate with us through Scripture and the teaching of it. So worship is a relational dialogue.
For this reason, Grace Church also places a high value on preaching or teaching. We need to hear from God as much as having him hear from us. To protect the integrity of God's Word, we are committed to expository preaching over topical. Expository preaching simply teaches through books of the Bible as they were written. This allows God's word to better control the subject matter and better enables people to judge whether they are hearing the truth. Folks who worship regularly with us find that their knowledge and enjoyment of Scripture grows as does their faith.
Grace's preaching ministry seeks to help people discover the Good News of Christ throughout Scripture, and to deliver it with humility, transparency, clarity, depth and practicality. Normally we have a community of interpretation, feedback and creativity as a small group of our preachers work through the same passage. All of our preachers see themselves as needing the teaching of the Bible and the mercy of Jesus and much as everyone else.
There are two personal benefits we hope worshipers will discover. One is the encouragement to our souls that comes with being in community with others as we sing and pray and respond to God's Word. The other is the way worship draws us out of our self-preoccupation and worries as it connects us to the God we serve and also trust.
Grace artists gather together in regular rotation to explore the gospel through creativity and service in the weekly worship services. Through artistic support, we seek to come along all aspects of each service while engaging word & image, heart & mind, individual & collective, believers & unbelievers, old & new.
Artistic support includes music, readings, illustrations, stage design, tech, communications, and gallery.
Grace artists also come together in regularly scheduled teams to create specific works in response to upcoming texts and themes. Working 1-3 weeks out, teams brainstorm and create art for potential use in worship services, as well as certain publication to the web, and distribution through social media and Grace website.
Artistic response includes music specials, theatre, films, testimonies, slideshows, mixed media, and visual arts.
Grace artists are encouraged to continually explore and grow deeper in the gospel through community, discipleship, and care. Involvement includes:[list class="circle green"]
- Response art teams
- Discussion groups
- Book studies
- Leader courses
Grace Communications and the Worship & Arts page on our website provide weekly updates for getting involved.
Grace artists are encouraged to reach out and connect with the local community through artistic bridges that contain aspects of the gospel (such as beauty, truth, goodness, etc...)
- Holiday Services (Christmas & Easter).
- Community Arts (bands, theatre, galleries, etc...)
- Annual Juried Shows & Competitions
- Mini Events
- Attend a Sunday class
- Observe or join an artists team.
- Join a discussion group or book study
- Attend a workshop.
- Help with an event.
- Connect with Worship & Arts Director to learn more - Craig Lotz