While the Israelites wander through Egypt, God begins to give them some of the clearest and most specific instructions they’ll receive in their history. Not only do they receive the law, but they receive instructions for worship, centered around the tabernacle. One of the most interesting elements about the Tabernacle to me is how hands-on the development was. Unlike the ten commandments, which were carved by the finger of God, the tabernacle was designed by God but ultimately left to the artists of Israel. Consider what God says in regards to the ark:
See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. (Exod 31:2-5)
I have to wonder if, in our worship times, we have a place for the Bezalels of our day to serve. Miriam, with her songwriting and tambourine playing wouldn’t have any trouble settling into a modern day worship team. But for the artists, the photographers, the playwrights and the comedians, it can sometimes be harder to find a place to make themselves useful. I’d like to suggest three areas you can look for artists to serve in your church.
Does your church put on any plays in a year? Most churches do at least one (usually starring the children and at Christmas time). But why not more? And why not the adults? Are there writers in your church? Get them to try their hand at script writing. Artists? Paint some backdrops. And why stop at plays? With musicians, churches have found hundreds of opportunities to perform for believers, play for unbelievers and be mentored in the process. Why not incorporate a non-musical performance into a weeknight outreach event? Some skits, a poem-reading. Why not use the gifts in your congregation to build fellowship outside of the Sunday service? A stand-up comedy show, a magic act followed by someone sharing of the gospel? Use performances as a way to get the artists involved.
Let’s think about how we present events in our churches. How do you tell the kids of your town about kid’s club or the men about your men’s breakfast? Do you give out bulletins at the door on Sunday? Do you have a sign out front? Powerpoint slides? If so, who designs these? Generally, it’s the office staff. Why not put up a sign-up sheet for congregation members willing to create and design? You may be amazed who is gifted with graphic design. Maybe make one Sunday a month a morning where you can gather a group of volunteers to come up with a fresh bulletin design. By creating venues for those with visual artistic skills to use and hone their skills, we are also providing them with an opportunity to share the gospel. Their gifts not only honour God but make the Good News more accessible to those outside the church.
Make a list of all the places in your church you use pictures. From the art on the walls to the backgrounds for your song slides. Do you have any photographers in your church? Artists? Why not showcase the gifts God has given your congregation? I once paid for some hooks to be hung in one hallway, designated as our ‘gallery’ and invited anyone to submit their art to be hung there. At first we weren’t sure if anyone was going to bring in anything, but after the first few were submitted, it was like the floodgates had opened. We set up a rotation so that every month new things appeared on the wall. It was incredible how quickly we started to see paintings inspired by sermons or by specific verses. It was like a whole different kind of Bible study plastered on the wall. And why stop at one wall? And why stop at one wall?
It can be hard to be a Bezalel in a church culture so clearly built for Miriams. Finding ways and inviting artists to be involved can be tricky but rewarding. God has created all varieties of people who express themselves in all varieties of ways. See how many places you can find for members of your congregation to get involved!