What do you think of when you hear the term creative worship? I’ve heard of some churches that have done some pretty crazy things in their worship service—swinging from the balcony, having the pastor dress up as a cartoon character, running laps around the pews while preaching, or waving one’s jacket around for emphasis. Bear in mind that creative worship does not mean crazy worship. Usually, histrionics like these serve to distract from worship. The goal of creative worship is to focus upon God.
Keep the Goal the Goal
The goal of creative worship is not just to have a creative worship service. Not to be redundant, but the goal of creative worship is to focus on God. That answers the “why” of creative worship. If we are not focusing on God, worship is not taking place. It’s also important to understand the “how” of creative worship. Since the goal is focusing on God, what does creative worship actually look like? What does creative worship accomplish?
Creative Worship Engages the Worshippers
Creativity in worship should serve to involve the worshippers. Creativity reflects the character of God. Thus, creativity is an enhancement to worship and even a requirement of worship. Here is how creative worship should engage the worshippers.
Creative Worship Engages the Worshipper’s Senses
Creativity characterized the oeuvre of Israelite worship. Exodus 25 informs us that the worship site itself involved a rainbow of colored cloth, a medley of textures, fragrant incense, priceless metals, and an array of candles for light. The Israelite worship experience involved the sense of sight, smell, touch, and hearing.
Creative Worship Engages the Worshipper’s Minds and Hearts
Creative worship, as a sensory experience, empowers its internal impact. Exodus 25:2 tells us that worshipful giving involved “every man whose heart moves him.” In the New Testament, we read that “spiritual worship” means that you must “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). According to Hebrews 12:28, worship involves the internal spirit of “reverence and awe,” regardless of the external accoutrements of worship.
Creative Worship Engages the Worshipper’s Emotions
All throughout the Bible, worship and emotions are integrally connected. God never disparages emotions. In fact, the Bible is full of references to God’s emotions. Creative worship involves the worshipper’s emotions—joy in singing (Ps. 100:1), cheerfulness in giving (2 Cor. 9:7), awe in exaltation (Heb. 12:28), and gratitude for God’s character (Ps. 26:7), among others.
Creative Worship Engages the Worshipper’s Actions
True worship does not begin and end with just emotional involvement or a sensory experience. Creative worship affects actions. Romans 12:1-2 makes it plain that worship means action: “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Holy living, acceptable behavior, nonconformity to the world, and mind renewal are part of the package of real worship. Creative worship results in life change—a change in mind and in actions.
Keep in mind that creativity isn’t just about using a cool intro video, or having smoke and lights during the music. Creativity—engaging the worshippers entire person—is at the core of worship. It doesn’t take a lot of money or a new church building. It simply takes intentional involvement of the whole person. Jesus taught that we worship in spirit and in truth, making the point that it doesn’t matter where we are or what our surroundings are (John 4:24). Jesus also explained that worshipping wasn’t about being in a church building, but involved simple gathering of believers (Matthew 18:20). Creative worship, engaging the worshippers, is all about focusing on God.