The scripture encourages us to make a “joyful noise.” I believe that artistic expression is another way to worship the Lord; paint a “joyful stoke” or make a “joyful splat.” I began to see art in this way after visiting the Stirring. Back in 2003, I meet a nice girl and asked her out. She was involved at the Stirring as one of the lead singers in the worship band. She invited me to come and hear her at the Stirring. I had not been going to church for some time. I had moved to Memphis in 1995 from Fort Smith, Arkansas (where I grew up), and never really connected to a church here. I attended off and on, but nothing stuck. I never felt at home, but then I went to a Stirring service. I was just floored. It was unlike any service I had ever been to. Concert lighting, loud music, candles, and ART!?!
I really felt as if I had come home. Never before had I been in a church that had made art so welcome and a part of the worship experience. Being an artist myself, I felt welcomed. I continued to attend the Stirring and it didn’t take long for me to volunteer as a guest artist. It was a very unique experience. The idea of painting on stage in front of about 200 people is intimidating to say the least. I kept imagining all those eyes looking over my shoulder while I work on a piece. It was scary especially since I don’t really my works in galleries and such. But I wanted to get involved. I found that once I got started on my painting, the audience just faded away. It was just me and the painting with the band playing in the background. I loved it. So this is worship! Sure there are sometimes when I get nervous up there. But usually I tap my foot and paint away.
After attending the Stirring for about a year, I joined Hope (the Stirring is apart of the Hope). Soon after, the artist coordinator Terri came to me. She was going to be moving about an hours drive away. It was going to be a hardship for her to continue to be the artist coordinator, and she asked me to talk the position. I said sure. I tended to always be there. The senior artist and gallery manager at the Stirring is a volunteer position. I would argue that it really could be a full time position to really do all that could be done in this ministry. Finding artist to paint at the service, connecting with other artists, reviewing and hanging art in the “gallery”, promoting openings, etc. My day job is Senior Artist (aka graphic designer) at a local health care organization's corporate communications dept. I am also apart of The Stirring’s Leadership Team (sort of a small group of all the volunteer coordinators and long time volunteers). We meet once a month to hear from our pastor about the up-coming sermons, events, etc. And you know, things that need improving, prayer requests from the team, praise, guidance, etc.
So that’s my story of how I ended up painting in church and worshiping through art. What’s your story?