Investing in Artists at The Crossing

The Old Testament tells us that God highly values artists. When God told Moses to build a tabernacle for worship, skilled artists were an important gift of God for the task. In fact, these artists are the first people the Bible ever mentions as being “filled with the Spirit of God.”

Exodus 35:30–36:2 ESV
Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer. Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.” And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.

God took this artwork of the tabernacle very seriously. He wanted artists who were “filled with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship.” And notice how it says that God is ultimately the one who put the skill in the artists’ minds and stirred their hearts to pursue their art. We should stop and take notice of this.

God values the importance of artists because God himself is an artist…

Psalms 19:1 ESV
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

So God uses his own artwork to declare his glory—to show us something deeper and greater about him than mere words could tell.

Isaiah 40:25–28 TNIV
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

God used his own artwork to make an impression. He didn’t just say, “Here are five reasons why you should trust me.” Instead, he said, “Come outside for a minute and look up. Wow! Do you see that? Now, how does my artwork make you feel? What kind of impression does it make on your heart? What do you see about me now that you did not see before?” God used his artwork to make the invisible visible. God used his artwork to help the mortal feel the eternal.

That’s always what good art does—it shows us and makes us feel what mere words cannot. And just as God used skilled artists to build his tabernacle, so too he wants to use good artists today to build his spiritual dwelling—his church—a community in which God dwells by his Holy Spirit. God wants to use artists in his church to help do the work of building his church.

Because God himself is an artist, good art causes the community of God to flourish. We are created in his image, so we too create art. Good art always inspires the heart upward. And churches where art is flourishing are communities where God’s image is flourishing.

So we need artists who understand the gospel—artists who know how to show people the gospel in a deeper way than mere words can tell. We need artists who feel the Gospel so they could help the church feel the gospel more in their hearts and souls through their art.

That’s why a good, healthy church will always be a church that seeks to invest in its own artists. Artists ought to be central to any church body because they are able to help people’s souls see and feel and experience the unseen truths of the Gospel. They help people to lift up their eyes and see God–feel God–in a more beautiful, sublime, exalted, and glorious way.

One particular group of artists the church must always be investing in is its musical artists–the vocalists and musicians in the church community. Our worship team is not just for the purpose of playing instruments and leading singing on Sunday mornings. They are our valued artists in whom we are investing. We want them to grow in skill, to be filled with God’s Spirit, to gain greater knowledge and understanding of the Gospel and what it means to worship God truly, and we want them to continue to grow in their creative expression of these realities.

One way that we are investing in our musical artists has been our recent efforts at recording. You may or may not be aware, but our worship team has been writing/creating some of their own worship songs that we have been singing on Sunday mornings. And we’ve recently begun the process of capturing those songs on recording–instruments played and vocals sung by our own artists on our worship team. And it has been a rewarding process for them on many levels.

One surprising level of reward has been the benefit we’ve received from the guy who is engineering, recording and producing our album–David Wilton (pictured left). He works near Boulder, Colorado, but recently spent a week here in Columbia working with David Cover (one of our worship directors) to record our musicians and vocalists for the album.

What I’ve appreciated about David Wilton is how he oozes his own walk with God. While he is quite successful at what he does (he produced Page CXVI’s albums, for example), he is also noticeably humble and kind and loves Christ. He is a good example of an artist who is “filled with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship.” The Church needs more artists like him.

And what I appreciated about him in particular was when each musician and vocalist recorded, he was able to bring them to a point more in their own heart and soul where they felt the truths of the song they were playing or singing. Several of the musicians and vocalists said to me later how their recording session was a very spiritual experience for them in their worship of God.

Of course, this has always been something our worship directors (Scott and David) have worked to instill in our musicians and singers. But somehow this whole recording process has served to hit that truth home on an even more substantial level. It has been a way for us as a church to invest in helping our musical artists not just grow in their artistic excellence, but to also grow in their spiritual maturity–becoming more Christ-like. Which, of course, will make them better artists.

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