June 17, 2009 / Efrem Smith

Beloved Worship and the Arts

Wow, I can’t believe it been over a week since I posted a blog. That’s way too long and I’ll work to make sure that doesn’t happen again 🙂 I was blessed and humbled to be able to speak last week at Willow Creek’s Arts and Worship Conference. I spoke on the title, The Wonder of Beloved Worship. Using 1 John 3 as my main text, I shared about, a leading worship from the identity of the beloved verses the broken.

As I prepared for this message, I reflected a lot on art, worship, identity, and transformation. Before I accepted a call into ministry, I had dreams of becoming an actor and a singer. I was in a performing arts program in high school and majored in theater in college at Saint John’s University in Central Minnesota. It was during my senior year in college that I sensed a call into ministry, which led to my going to Luther Seminary to receive a Master of Arts degree in Theology.

Today as a pastor, I still feel that I’m an artist. I use comedy, story-telling, and singing in my preaching. As an African-American, I’ve been raised that preaching is an art form as influenced by the Black Church tradition. Leading a multicultural congregation that desires to engage culture for Kingdom purposes, has allowed me to connect my passion as an artist with one for theology as well. I believe that it is important for the church to equip and empower artists within the experience of corporate worship. One of the ways we do this at Sanctuary Covenant Church is through a monthly Hip Hop worship experience. I’m excited about spoken-word artist, break-dancers, rappers, and deejays being apart of a church worship experience. 

Many artists outside of the church are using their gifts out of brokenness. There is a great opportunity through the church to also equip artists through Christian formation to use their gifts out of the identity of being God’s beloved. Beloved worship is about artists using their gifts as an extension and expression of God’s love that lives might be transformed. Worship in this way can be a liberating and Kingdom advancing movement.