A Note To Pastors
As prophetic art grows in acceptance, there’re a couple of things that may help pastors with its incorporation in worship services. It would be a good idea to collaborate with your creatives before worship art begins to set out some general ground rules. For instance, painters should always use a drop sheet, how/where to clean up well, etc. A read through Chapter 7 of this book titled Live Painting Tips would be a good place to start to arrive at such a list. I recommend actually writing a list so everyone understands from the outset.
The Need for Skill
If you’ve read the section about the need for skills acquisition in Chapter 5, you’ll realize that I’m a big advocate of artists improving their abilities in order to create worthwhile art pieces, as opposed to expressions of personal worship. To understand the difference, read the first 3 chapters of this book about what prophetic art is, especially the definition of prophetic cartoons. To summarize though, personal worship art is akin to any member of the congregation singing their own personal worship songs. It's acceptable for them to make a joyful noise rather than music because not everyone can sing well.
Similarly, private worship art can deeply move the individual regardless of skill. Public worship art however, should push for a calibre of excellence. Just as you wouldn't allow anyone to perform on the music team without significant skills, skills in art need to be accrued before public airing. Otherwise it cheapens the whole field.
That doesn't mean that I'm trying to shut down art in worship. It does mean that pastors need to be aware of the standard of that art. Certainly, less well executed work can speak volumes to a soft heart. As an artist though, I'm very aware of the need to raise the standard of prophetic art.
Perhaps one way forward with this is to vet artists’ work before they’re allowed to paint publicly. If they’re not up to standard, encourage them to pursue skills. Encourage them to learn to draw and paint. Encourage them to practise at home.
If there is room, make a space available in a less public area than the front of the church until standards have improved. Just as pastors and worship leaders need to deal with people who want to play or sing on stage but don’t have the skills, beginner and underdeveloped artists also need time to develop.
Plea for Time
As worship art is gaining acceptance, it has usually been squeezed into the time allocated for praise and worship. his practise alone cheapens the ultimate result in many cases. Even the most accomplished artist is going to find the creation of a worthwhile piece of art a real stretch in 25-45 minutes. The resultant quality of the piece will be compromised because of the lack of time to complete it. Painting is not an instant thing the way music can be. It often takes time to develop.
Prophetic art should not be a ‘performance’ or entertainment, just as worship music should not be, unless that is the specific intention. However, without time to develop the image, the works are likely to remain amateur or be contrived as performance pieces rather than worship art. A solution is to allow the artists to paint for as long as possible, even throughout the sermon.
The way I lessen any distraction that I might cause doing that is to sit on a stool at the end of worship and unobtrusively go on with the work. I’ve had people tell me that they love to watch and that it in fact, helps them remember more. I can’t verify that, it is purely a very small anecdotal commentary but as so many people are visual learners, perhaps there is some truth in it.
Display and Sales
It’s a wonderful thing if the church community gets behind the artist and can actually display finished works for sale. Of course, this is where the need for careful curation comes in order to only display works of quality. If we are to gradually improve the standard of Christian/prophetic/ worship art, churches need to only display quality art and of course, that’s open to interpretation.
It will also require a change in attitudes to paying for quality art instead of the universal expectation that because it’s Christian it should be cheap or free! If artists are to sustain a professional practise, they need to be able to receive reasonable prices for their art. The common practise that it should be free or auctioned off with no proceeds to the artist maybe ok in the short term but not if a sustainable and ever-increasing standard of quality is to be obtained.
When artists don't get paid a decent price for their art, over time it can deeply affect their sense of self worth.
As well, this painting with God thing can seem very thankless at times so be kind to your painters and for that matter, all your creatives. Encourage them often. I know at times it seems like we are a very weird bunch, but that’s how Almighty God created us.