Ego and the arts have had a terrible entanglement for as long as both have existed. Artistic ventures are man-made creations, and the best of those creations come from deep within the artist. Therefore, art possesses and expresses the soul of its creator. We all judge art at one level or another, so artists develop an ego to protect their creative souls against such judgments; otherwise, they would stop creating.

In worship, the artist must think differently. We do not use art in worship to express the soul of the artist; it is a tool of the Spirit to express the truth of our God. The worship artist cannot expect to own his or her work. It belongs to the Spirit who uses it to reach inside the one who receives it in worship. If my work as an artist inspires, I must remember that the Spirit breathed life into it. It is the work of the Spirit, and I cannot take credit for it.

I try to model this to all who offer arts in any form in worship at First Church. It is an offering; it cannot be perfect because we are not perfect, but it must be our first fruits.

We know people respond to the work we do. They tell us then—the good and the bad! But we also know there are many stories about the impact a song, visual image, or hymn had on someone personally which we will never hear. That is good! It is not our business to keep a tally of the work of the Spirit. It is our business to simply be utilized by the Spirit.

We must guard against the applause of the congregation, the passionate response someone shares after services, and even the criticisms we hear as becoming our reason for making art. We offer our art because we love God and because God has commissioned us to serve Him in this way.

Worship artists must submit themselves humbly to God, and that is a constant battle.
As soon as we become aware of our humility, we have lost it! We must remember that it is the greatest privilege given to us by God to serve Him and the Church with tools of such beauty.

C.S. Lewis paraphrased cultural theorist Denis de Rougemont when he spoke about the problem of the arts becoming an idol, saying, “Art ceases to be a demon only when it ceases to be a god.” The arts are a tool entrusted to us but used by God. Let us never worship the art nor the artist, but only the true Master Creator.

by Jeff Faux, Director of Sacred Arts