This one’s tough for me. It’s something I don’t think ever gets resolved. As Andy Stanley puts it….”its a tension that must be managed.”
Have you ever noticed interviews on tv with actors or music artists? Usually, the person doing the interview brings up something that a critic has said either positively or negatively about their latest piece of work, and the actor usually mentions that they in some respect pay no attention to the critics whether good or bad. They are making their art for the sake of art, and they believe in what they have filmed or recorded to a level where the popular consensus doesn’t concern them. They have an intrinsic belief that they did the best they could on project and they don’t want someones critique to cast a shadow over their perception of the work they did.
At the other end of the Pendulum, there are business where the critique is the point. If people aren’t happy, then it wasn’t a success. If you are a restaurant owner, and no one likes your food, you will probably not have a successful business. If you open a clothing store and no one buys your clothes, well….you get the point.
There have been a handful of companies throughout the years that I believe managed this tension well. Two particular people come to mind…Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs. Ford was quoted as saying “you can have any color model-T you want as long as its black.” He created (either for personal reasons or business model reasons) a product that was what it was, and if people wanted a car, thats what they got. Steve Jobs upon his return to apple in ’97 looked at their product line which was ballooning upward of 40-plus product lines and wiped them all, and drew a 2×2 grid on the board…..Apple was going to make 4 products, thats it. And if people wanted an Apple Computer, they were going to buy one of those 4 products.
Now Here’s where the tension really starts to show itself…I work at a church. And there are as many opinions on “how” you do church as there are menu items on a Cheesecake Factory menu. Are we in the Art business? or the service business? Are we about catering to peoples wants, needs, and desires? Or are we presenting an art, the most beautiful love painting ever drawn….the gospel? These are the things that are hard to define for me. If we have the artist attitude, and do not care about the opinions/perception of people we can have a beautiful presentation that appeals to no one, and therefore no one hears the Good News. However, if all we do is appeal to the preferences of people and cater to their wishes and desires, we are not shepherding people, we’re looking to the people for the vision, not drawing the vision from God.
So is it Art? or is it service? Love to know your thoughts…….
“David appointed the following Levites to lead the people in worship before the Ark of the LORD by asking for his blessings and giving thanks and praise to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 1 Chronicles 16:4 NLT
Leading worship is service through art and your task is to shepherd. If you are truly serving then a correct missiology demands that you consider the culture and conform your methods accordingly. That can alter the expression of the artist but if the artist is truly creative then problem solved. However, in the church the artist’s desires must be subject to the King and not the whims of wandering sheep. In leading worship, whatever way the artist desires to express oneself, the end result must be people drawn to the throne of grace. Otherwise, it is just an empty exercise and wasted talent. I think you balance this well!
Adam it is both art and service. By nature you have the art of music, by choice you work at the church. You are serving through your art. In seeking to serve the Lord and spreading His Good News I would think when you go with your heart and creativity as provided to you by the Lord, He will use you. People who hear your work (art) have to prepare their own hearts for worship. If they don’t take away anything then it is their own fault for not seeking it out. We all have certain styles of worship and music that appeal to us at different times in our lives. It is the individuals responsibility to seek the Lord for worship and be obedient to His leadership. It is impossible to cater to everyone’s desires, wants and needs. I would go as far as to say it is fruitless to try. We only have to please one and that is the Lord. If we know we are giving our best to serve Him, then everything else will fall into place. God bless you.