At The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville, the music classroom is alive...but not just with the traditional sounds of music. Students enrolled in MU 401, Use of the Arts in Worship, are learning different ways to lead worship services in their communities. The class, which is taught by BCF Professor Lisa Kinchen, looks at worship within the visual arts of painting, sculpture, sign language, praise dance, digital media, drama/biblical storytelling, and prayer. Students are challenged to develop a theology of arts in worship and gain skill in using the mediums that are studied.
Visual art forms have been used in worship since the Old Testament. As time and society have progressed, so have the visual arts used in worship. Worship "art forms" have evolved from examples such as: symbols on walls and caves, hieroglyphics, tapestries, paintings and sculptures, to banners, lights, video, and streaming live on the web. Using visual arts in worship services provides an open door and broader way to both witness and interact with members and prospects.
According to Kinchen, the attention span of the current generation is short, to say the least. The use of visual arts is a way to connect/capture attention while at the same time sharing the gospel. Opponents of using visual arts in worship will say that incorporating things like lights and praise dancing in services is used to "entertain" congregations. Students in MU 401 will learn this is not the case. Worship leaders use methods like these to help a congregation worship with their whole being and respond to God with prayer, praise, and participation.
During the class, students have had "hands on" opportunities to use different visual arts by creating their own paintings and sculptures. "The population today is constantly looking for new, imaginative visions of life and reality," stated Kinchen. "People are searching to see, feel, and understand the world around them. By incorporating visual arts into our worship services, we, as worship leaders, can provide a way for congregations to see, feel, and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way and on a level, they've not seen before."
For more information about the use of the arts in worship or the music program at The Baptist College of Florida, please call 800-328-2660 extension 427.