We are a creative church filled with incredibly talented and artistic people who are passionate about creatively communicating the Gospel with the world. We pray, plan, plot, and put in place themes, stage designs, skits, songs, and sermons all designed with the idea of making the message portable, making it stick in people’s minds, all so that Jesus can be further glorified. And for having a very small budget and being very new to the whole task, we are doing a pretty good job of it all. I have always said if necessary, I will put on a purple suit with pink polka dots to reach someone for Jesus.
We recently launched a series called "Hooked", about temptation, habits, and hang ups. It has a fishing theme. There are fishing nets, a giant treble hook, goldfish swimming in bowls placed around the building, and some stellar chalkboard artwork that all communicate the "Hooked" theme. Since I am a fly fisherman, I thought it would be cool to kick off this series by presenting my sermon in my waders and fly vest, the perfect marriage of two of my loves, fly fishing and preaching. As I went into my office just behind the stage to put my waders on, I was hit in the gut with a question, “Kelly why are you doing all this? Is it just to look cool? Is it just to do something different? What is the point of all this?” I took time to ponder the question. I had no doubt it was prompted from the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t a rebuke, but a call to search and clarify the direction of my heart.
From time to time we as pastors, worship leaders, or Christians in general, who are all called to live lives that are pleasing unto the Lord, need to step back and take a long hard look at whether or not our lives are being lived in such a way as to glorify God. We can pursue building large churches, successful careers and big events, but if we are doing them only for our own edification, they lose their meaning and power. And all the while we tell ourselves we are doing this for Jesus.
Chuck Colson once wrote that:
We humans, you see, have an infinite capacity for self-rationalization.
There is an epidemic of celebrity pastors and worship leaders in the church today. Not all have national notoriety; some are set up as celebrities in their own congregations. While it is appropriate to respect and honor those who lead, anytime we focus the attention on ourselves more than on Jesus we are tempting people to make us into idols we were never meant to be. Humility and Christian leadership go hand in hand. Mark Driscoll recently wrote that:
God’s plan A is humility, God’s plan B is humiliation….to be proud is to pick a fight with God.
Which echoes Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
As I sat listening to our church sing “It is well with my soul.” I immediately humbled myself and repented of any self glorification that might have been present and asked God to use this art, this get up, and this message for Him and His glory. I prayed that at the end of the day what people would remember would be how Christ was lifted up, not how I preached in waders. Tears flooded my eyes as I felt the presence of God in that room. I still put on the waders to preach the message, but they were only a vehicle to open a heart to what I might say about Jesus. We had a young man receive Christ that morning. To God be the glory.
I recently heard that the number one thing people are looking for in worship is creativity. I am all for it, as long as the object of our worship doesn’t become our creative efforts. (Jonathan Malm wrote a great blog on the God of Art that you can read here.)
We were made to worship God, not to be worshipped or to worship created things. As we pursue the worship of God through any creative expression, may He remain the aim of our hearts. May He be lifted above all else in our lives so that others might see the Truth and lift this same God up in their lives.