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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Story Through The Eyes

Written by: on September 16, 2016

imageC.S. Lewis writes that “My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others.” We often declare that faith is about seeing something before “seeing it” so the visual arts allows us to see the world in its entirety, even if it’s an “Imagined World.” In reading this book, we’ll quickly find that the author explores the relationship between the visual art and worship. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that our emotions, bodies and imaginations play a critical role in our worship of God but it’s the arts that guide our participation. Singing and worshiping the triune God makes it impossible to experience Him without our imagination.

image“It is possible that we might actually win the battle of words but lose the battle of images. And losing that battle could well cost us this generation” (21). It’s very cliché when we hear people say, “It’s the same Gospel but different methods.” Dyrness seems very concerned because while we believe the methods should change in how we do things, we often resolve to the old ways. How often have we heard or used the phrase, “back in my day?” Such phrase or thinking creates a wedge between the former and existing generations.

The purpose of this book also “bring questions of visual arts and theology into dialogue with worship.” Back in “your day” or “my day” (as we say), we would read scriptures and create imagery of Christ based on the readings. Now we’re able to create visuals to help the “new church” see and/or experience the full humanity of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi tells us to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

image“But what does it really mean to speak of worship that is biblical” (138). Worship doesn’t have to be carved with bible verses for it to be biblical and we don’t have to reduce our worship of God or spirituality to reach people. However, the visual arts help to bring the gospel to life. My church uses lots of visuals every weekend because we realize that everyone engages God differently. This book although not comprehensive, allows us to consider the totality of worship. The arts in worship invite us to respond by taking ownership of our imagination and engage God personally. While the arts may look beautiful to the eyes, it’s purpose is much greater. Think about the nativity scene at Christmas that tells the story of the birth of Jesus. Regardless of our denominational influences, that nativity scene helps us to see a swaddled child in a manger in the midst of animals and while there’s a mystery of the birth, we look forward to this imagery each year because it forms part of the foundation of our Christian faith.

imageThere’s no doubt of the unexamined carry-over from the Reformation as images in churches were destroyed because of its apparent association with the corruption of the ecclesial order. As a result, some Protestant Christians remain reluctant to use images in worship. Some sanctuaries showcase the image of a cross, the bible on an altar or pulpit…we never escape those images. Walk into a Roman Catholic Church and you’ll also see Jesus and the Virgin Mary framed on a wall. While we see restraints of some churches in using visuals in worship, it is evident that it’s a necessity because the media has trained our eyes to always need a visual to connect with the truth.


imageWhile our culture often use images to entice us as consumers, images are a great way to invite us to become Kingdom Builders. Images enhance the spoken word and is an opportunity to help people experience/engage God personally through imagination. God often speaks to us through visual metaphors so this works in harmony in our worship. Dyrness’s greatest credit is the we invited to consider the historical context for the questions we face regarding the visual arts in today’s worship. Yes, this book is not comprehensive but it’s a helpful tool to consider.

About the Author

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Garfield Harvey

Garfield O. Harvey devotes himself to studies in cultural intelligence (CQ), global leadership and cultural anthropology. During his doctoral studies at George Fox University, he developed CQ Worship to help ministry leaders manage the tension of leading corporate worship with cultural intelligence. His research on worship brings a fresh perspective that suggests corporate worship begins the moment a church engages a community.

8 responses to “The Story Through The Eyes”

  1. Pablo Morales says:

    Garfield,
    I loved your blog. It was a good reminder that we need to tailor our ministry to engage people differently, because not everybody connects with God in the same way. Reading your blog reminded me of the book The Artisan Soul. In it, Erwin McManus reminds us that we are all call to embrace creativity and imagination in our service to God. You may enjoy the book (https://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/006227029X/ref=sr_1_1?p=S002&keywords=erwin+mcmanus&ie=UTF8&qid=1473993130#reader_006227029X).

    Once again, thank you for a well-written blog.

    Pablo

  2. Hi Garfield. This is a keeper! I particularly love the sentence, “Images enhance the spoken word and is an opportunity to help people experience/engage God personally through imagination.” You know this probably more than any of us because you are a musician. Do you use images ever when you are playing your jams? The last few concerts I’ve been to had constant images on the screen while the band was playing. It was funny, I like the use of images in church because it enhances my worship experience, but I found the images at the concerts to be a distraction.

  3. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Garfield,

    Thank you for your statement, “One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that our emotions, bodies and imaginations play a critical role in our worship of God but it’s the arts that guide our participation. Singing and worshiping the triune God makes it impossible to experience Him without our imagination.”

    You wrote, “My church uses lots of visuals every weekend because we realize that everyone engages God differently.” How does this affect or guide your choices of music for worship?

  4. Claire Appiah says:

    Garfield thanks for your perspectives. In your blog you mentioned that your church uses lots of visuals every week because everybody engages God differently. You emphasized that “images enhance the spoken word and is an opportunity to help people experience/engage God personally through imagination.” I am curious as to what kind of visuals your church uses so abundantly and what determines what kinds of visuals are biblically acceptable?

  5. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Garfield:

    Being in the “arts”, do you see the tension in music as prevalent as the canvas/print? Dyrness gave us a good overview of the challenges.

    In your experience with the arts, what has been the most form of the arts outside of music?

    Phil

  6. Aaron Cole says:

    Garfield,

    When I read this book I thought of you! I was very interested in your thoughts and reflections. Great blog! You stated: “While our culture often use images to entice us as consumers, images are a great way to invite us to become Kingdom Builders.” I love how you flipped the script and turned a perceived negative into a postive.

  7. Garfield,

    Thank you for your summation of this book. I thought these words are so true. “It is possible that we might actually win the battle of words but lose the battle of images. And losing that battle could well cost us this generation” This generation that I am ministering to and that you are leading worship for use images more than they use words. How do you come up with all the creative ways to communicate with them. I love your art every time you blog.

    Kevin

  8. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Garfield for another great inspiring blog,

    I am inclined to agree with you on this statement, we must take “ownership of our imagination and engage God personally”, because worship through song can be one of the most powerful, moving ways in which a Christian responds to God. But we should give thought about the words we are singing.

    There are some songs theologically questionable, others are merely uncomfortable — and some sound like thinly disguised teenage crush songs. But all of them are really popular. In spite of it all, we must take ownership of what we do and the images we create.

    Your blogs are creative and fresh … Thanks for the inspiration! Rose Maria

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