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Tuesday, May 13

Interupting normal blogging programming.....
The article below is from heartofworship.com & addresses some concerns that the worship leaders in my commuinty have been voicing. So the article is below...and feel free to use my SHOUTOUT system to discuss.

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The Creative Edge
David Ruis

HOW: David, you have a reputation for being on the 'creative edge' in worship. We've seen you lead worship on keyboards, on guitar, with rave tracks, and with all sorts of ethnic instruments - even once leading with Sonic Flood at a Worship Together conference. Is this just the way you're 'programmed' personality wise, or is it a conscious decision to stay creative?

DR: It's always weird when you hear how others perceive you! Most times I don't feel like I'm on the edge of anything at all - except maybe the edge of insanity ... just kidding! I guess it would be a mixture of personality and a desire to capture sounds and rhythms that express where I'm at. I do tend to be adventuresome by nature and I'm sure that that bleeds through in the expression of my worship. I love to be stretched as well. Quite honestly I feel that the whole "loop technology" was made for me. I feel the most comfortable in this environment, and it's like I've been waiting for this my whole creative journey. I do want to stay creative, but don't feel that I am motivated by a "need" to be culturally relevant. I think that if I'm being honest in my expression, that will ring true and have more impact than if I'm just trying to sound like something "cool".

HOW: Which particular scriptures inspire you in your pursuit of creativity?

DR: There are several scriptures that set my compass as it were. Romans 1 moves me - the reality that God's handiwork is enough evidence of Him for people to discover His reality in creation is amazing to me. I long to reflect that in all that I create. Isaiah 55 and 56 have really impacted me as well. Revelation 3:14 stirs me too. It is Jesus' letter to the church in Laodicea. He describes Himself as the ruler (the original language is "source") of God's creation and from that vantage point despises "luke-warmness" ... I think that is very profound! Another Revelation passage that is great is chapter 4 - describing the panorama of sound, color and light that is a part of the worship experience of heaven - amazing! I am also challenged by 1 Kings 4: 29-34. Here we find a description of Solomon's reign, and in this place of true kingdom blessing creativity is explosive. Solomon writes over a thousand songs, and the content of his teaching and music encompasses a breadth of knowledge and expression including plant life and animals! Worship out of the box...

HOW: Are there any particular themes you're pursuing right now in worship, or any particular strands of expression, creatively speaking?

DR: A constant theme for me is the journey to understand the correlation between mercy/justice and the integrity of the expression of worship before God. I am also intrigued by the biblical link between worship and intercession and the stirring to prayer internationally.

Again, the whole 'loop technology' and especially the euro-dance vibe seems to really unlock something for a significant amount of people. Such freedom and intimacy seems to be released as I explore this "sound". It facilitates scripture reading and prayer in an amazing way, and inspires the visual side of artistic expression in worship as well - everything from video technology to painting and dance. I also find that it creates room for a fresh expression of all kinds of liturgy as well - and I love that! It seems to make space for the "old and the new" to meet together. As Matthew 13:52 says - "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old".

HOW: Where do you draw the line between being pastoral and being creative? In other words, if a worship leader has a particularly crazy way of expressing themselves, but others may find it hard to join in, where should they draw the line?

DR: This is a huge question. Let me first of all say that each community must find what is at the core of its corporate expression of worship. This varies in different liturgical settings, as well as the philosophy of "why" the gathering is happening (eg. Is it primarily evangelistic? Is it primarily for the families? etc.). Once this is discovered it?s then important to discern what kinds of risks can be taken in that environment. If risks are taken creatively, they need to be linked to the overall philosophy and theology of worship that community, or they won't make sense. Pastoring is about leading a community on a journey of discovering God together, not just running meetings. The Sunday meeting is more than just a time unto itself, and worship becomes part of that community's "faith language" and expression to God through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the times of joy and discouragement, the times of clarity and struggle etc.

HOW: Is there a strong link between creativity and the prophetic?

DR: Definitions become critical at this point. I think creativity is a natural part of any believer's journey. It may express itself differently in different people and communities, but it is there. Also - it seems biblically that you can't stop the song. If you're filled with the Spirit you sing (Eph. 5), if the word of Christ dwells in you you sing (Col. 3) - it's just part of the dynamic. Coupled with that - the whole nature of worship and prayer is prophetic. We speak, God listens and responds in various ways ... the exchange is intimate and "now" and out of that place creativity flows. Also, if creativity happens in this kind of setting, art is not just for the sake of art - it is part of the exchange between God and His people - awesome!

HOW: Some would say that the church often seems to be playing 'catch up' with the world in creative things. Would you agree, and if so is there a way out of this pattern?

DR: I'm not sure if I fully agree with this observation. I think it is more a matter of the Church awakening to its mandate to be the protector and patron of the arts. In my studies I have discovered that a huge percentage of people on the "cutting edge" of artistic expression (everything from animation, to dance, to music, to film etc.) have had their roots in the church, or are Jewish! That is stunning to me. I think more has come from the church than she realizes. We have just been poor at facilitating and challenging creativity. This happens for all sorts of reasons - everything from bad theology to lack of understanding of the arts and their place.

In the church we need to learn how to release everyone, without penalizing (and being threatened) by the "gifted".

HOW: In the past you've pastored a church with a lot of artists and musicians in it. Were there any things you did especially to cater for the 'creative types'?

DR: I wouldn't say that we catered to the artist - but we tried to create a community atmosphere where it was OK to take risks creatively, and a safe enough environment where we didn't have to "hit a home run" every Sunday (or public gathering). It was safe and OK to step out. This took a lot of teaching and awareness however, explaining why there was someone painting during the worship for example - so that it wouldn't be a distraction, but it had a context. Communication definitely is a huge key. The atmosphere of adventure and risk is so important. We'll let people "try" praying for the sick, or "try" methods of evangelism, but when it comes to worship, we rarely teach let alone give room for risk taking. I don't get it ...

HOW: What are you dreaming for right now?

DR: I am dreaming for communities of faith to go on a "journey" together, instead of just pulling off good meetings. Then, out of the sense of pilgrimage (Psalm 84) expressing a worship that?s anchored to the history of faith, as well as unlocking creativity, sounds and rhythms to express the "now" and future of the journey as we walk out our obedience to Christ. I am dreaming that at the centre of this expression there would be freedom from favoritism and an embracing of the poor and broken that releases a fragrance before heaven ( James 2).

2003-04-12
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